A peanut ball. Never heard of it? Yeah, I hadn’t either, until a new research study concluded it could shorten labor times and decrease the risk of a Caesarean. Now, the peanut ball is my new favorite invention.
What is it?
First an apology to the ravenous pregnant woman in front of her computer screen: This has absolutely nothing to do with eating. Instead, the ball is peanut-shaped and used primarily for exercising. The study, published this winter in The Journal of Perinatal Education, found that women who used a peanut ball during labor were half as likely to undergo a C-section. Better yet, use of the ball significantly cut down on labor times – and even helped rotate malpositioned babies. Miracle ball? I think so.
Who benefits most?
You may have heard of women using a traditional, round exercise ball during labor. Expectant moms lean on, hunch over and even sit on them to help manage the pain of contractions. The peanut ball is much slimmer, as it’s meant to fit between the knees while lying in bed. This ball can be beneficial to any laboring woman, though it’s particularly useful to those confined to bed, either by epidural or doctor’s orders.
How does it work?
First, movement is key during labor. Walking, swaying and experimenting with different positions is crucial to promoting cervical dilation and encouraging baby to descend – both items that are essential components to delivery. Therefore, a mom who’s able to move around during labor will often have a shorter experience overall.
However, once a mom-to-be has received an epidural, she’s confined to the hospital bed, and her range of motion is pretty limited. That’s where this peanut ball really comes into play. Using this exercise ball – and experimenting with different positions – can help speed up childbirth by opening the cervix and bringing baby down. Most health care providers will be open to movement, provided there are no complications and they can easily monitor baby.
Two positions to try with the peanut ball are as follows: A semi-reclined expectant mom can try laying on her side with the ball between her knees. Or, she may sit up in bed with one leg over the ball, which is pressed closely to her body. Both of these positions can not only help speed up the process, but offer comfort and pain management too.
So, what do you think? Will you be adding the peanut ball to your pain management arsenal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!