This Cool Peanut Ball Might Just Change Birth As We Know It
If you happen to search “peanut ball” on Instagram, you will see one of two things:
- Delicious peanut butter chocolate balls for desert or
- A curiously-shaped exercise ball
Unfortunately, the exercise ball is not a delicious dessert, but it may be even better, because it's a new tool designed to help women in labor.
The peanut ball, explains Certified Childbirth Educator Jade Rachael on her blog, is a tool designed to help widen the pelvic outlet to make it easier for the baby to descend down into the birth canal when a mother is stuck in bed. Even though studies prove that women do best while moving around during labor outside of bed, sometimes circumstances require them to be in the bed. If she has an epidural, for instance, or requires a special monitor on her baby, or is hooked up to medications such as Pitocin during her labor, she will be confined to her bed.
So who is the peanut ball helpful for? Basically any mom laboring in a bed, especially if she has an epidural.
A study done in 2015 found that women with epidurals who used a peanut ball had significantly shorter labors than women who did not use the peanut ball. They reduced their second stage of labor and therefore decreased the risk for a C-section due to a “stalled” labor.
Other sources have explained exactly why the peanut ball is such a cool resource for birth. Essentially, it works better than pillows, which can flatten, or a regular birthing ball, which is too large, to keep a woman's legs propped up properly. Birth is a complicated process and when you think about it, it's amazing that something so large can navigate such a small opening into the world. Which is why it's so important to keep baby's route as open and uncomplicated as possible.
The peanut ball helps keep the legs, and thus, the pelvic outlet open, allowing the baby to move down more easily. The ball comes in different sizes for mothers of varying heights or to use in different positions. Mothers can use the ball while side-laying or sitting up in a more reclined position and the different positions help depending on what position your baby is in as well.
If you're interested in using a peanut ball, ask your birthing facility if they carry one or if your midwife will supply one. Otherwise, you can pick one up fairly inexpensively online through retailers like Amazon.
Would you – or did you – use a peanut ball during labor?