What the Heck is a Peanut Ball?
You may know or have heard what a birth ball is, but do you know what a peanut ball is? (No, it’s not a delicious popcorn treat.) Most women have no clue when asked this question. I wasn’t familiar with them either until a few years ago when one of my birth doula clients wanted to use one during her labor. They are actually really beneficial to all pregnant mamas during labor, so I thought I would share this information with you!
What is a peanut ball?
A peanut ball is an exercise or therapy ball that is shaped like a peanut. It has an oblong shape, larger on each end, and slightly narrower in the middle. Peanut balls are being used for a variety of strength training and physical therapy needs as well as by laboring women. It is becoming more and more popular with pregnant women during childbirth. Here’s why…
How can I use it?
Peanut Balls are for every type of birth. The reason for that is they can be used at hospital births, birth center births, and home births. They can be used in many different positions, but are most commonly used for women who are in bed (or need to remain in bed) during labor. There are always points in labor when a woman wants to sit down or lie down in bed whether she has pain medication or not. She could be tired, she may feel more comfortable in bed, or she may want an epidural. These are all times when a peanut ball can be used! Here are the two typical ways that peanut balls are used during labor:
1. The laboring mother is in a semi-reclined position, with one leg over the ball, and the other leg to the side of the ball. The doula, nurse, or other support person pushes the ball as close to the mother’s hips as is tolerable to her. Many feel this position promotes dilation and descent with a well-positioned baby.
2. While the mother is in a side-lying or semi-prone position, the peanut ball is used to lift the upper leg and open the pelvic outlet. Many feel this position helps rotate a baby in a less-favorable posterior position to a more favorable position for delivery.
Both of these are great positions for women who have an epidural. I recommend using a peanut at every birth, but I especially recommend them to women who are wanting an epidural. This is something that you can do to help the progress of your labor and the descent of your baby in your pelvis.
There are 19 different positions that you can do with a peanut ball to help you during labor. Pretty amazing! Here are two peanut ball charts that show you pictures of those positions, as well as the name of each position. These charts are perfect for sharing with your doula, childbirth educator, midwife, care provider, or labor and delivery nurse. You may even teach them a thing or two!
If you are a more visual person like I am, here are some great videos that can help. They show you exactly how to use a peanut ball, and they explain how you can make sure you have the right size.
Having your baby outside of the hospital and curious what positions you can do with your peanut ball?
There are some great things that you can do with a peanut ball to help the progress of your labor when you are at home. If you’re having your baby at home or a birth center, this chart includes 10 different positions and information on which position to use when your baby is above the inlet, mid-pelvis, or the outlet. That will be so helpful if your baby is in an unfavorable position or is having a hard time getting lower in your pelvis.
What are the benefits?
During a recent study, they found three noticeable benefits in women who used a peanut ball during labor:
- Shorter labors – Women who used the peanut ball had an average of a 90-minute first stage of labor. They found that “the peanut ball during labor for patients with an epidural, as compared with standard nursing interventions, did significantly reduce the length of labor, without adverse neonatal outcomes.”
- Shorter pushing phase – These women who used a peanut ball pushed for an average of 23 fewer minutes than those who did not.
- Fewer C-Sections – The cesarean rate in the group of women who used peanut balls was also 13% less than those who did not. This is a major benefit as many hospitals are trying to reduce c-section rates, as c-section deliveries typically take longer to recover from and have more potential for complications. They also cost more, so there is a big potential to save money for both patients and hospitals.
These effects were especially pronounced in women who had an epidural. However, using a peanut ball would be effective in any woman who needed to lie down on her side during labor.
Where can I get one, and what size do I get?
Peanut balls come in 4 different sizes. Not every peanut ball is right for every mama. It’s not a “one size fits all” type of deal. To make sure that you have the right size, see the recommendations below:
- 40cm — Recommended for women who are under 5’3″
- 50cm — Recommended for women who are 5’3″ to 5’6″ (Most common size)
- 60cm — Recommended for women who are 5’7″ or taller or obese women
- 70cm — ONLY to sit on and straddle
As for purchasing a peanut ball…you could buy one from Amazon. However, make sure they are rated for pregnancy. Again, we recommend purchasing one that is specifically rated for pregnancy.
Did you use a peanut ball during labor? What was your experience like using one?