Staying On The Ball!
You may be one of the many pregnant women who use a birthing ball to exercise and strengthen your back. Unfortunately, most do not utilize the benefits of their birthing balls until they have gone into labor. Midwives recommend birthing balls to pregnant women because they encourage you to maintain good posture by balancing on them. By sitting on the ball you are forced to sit properly so that your back is well aligned and this relieves your back of pressure which is especially helpful later on in your pregnancy. Birthing balls are sometimes used to encourage your unborn baby to move into the correct position enabling you to be more comfortable during labor. You often see them in maternity wards. The exercise you can carry out on the ball whilst you are pregnant is often overlooked even by baby industry experts. They are also perfect for getting back in shape after the birth. Birthing balls are brilliant because they are unstable. Most other forms of exercise mean that you are working out on a mat directly on a hard floor, a bench or a firm piece of equipment. You have to rely on your core muscles to balance yourself on a birthing ball whilst the least amount of pressure is being put on your spine. The more you work these core muscles, the stronger they will become which means less back pain and injuries. During pregnancy, your sense of balance becomes even more important as your center of gravity is moving on a daily basis. If you are pregnant, before exercising on the ball, consult with your doctor as there are some contraindications to pregnancy exercise. Once your doctor has agreed you can go ahead with the exercise, your workout schedule should include core, pelvic floor, upper and lower body muscle training. Learning to trigger your transverse abdominis muscles (TVA) is required before beginning these exercises. These muscles are deep and make up part of your core and to maintain good posture, prevent injury and reduce or rid back pain you need to be able to control and strengthen them. You need to locate your TVA and to do this you need to lie on your back. Then put your fingertips inside your hip bones and cough. The muscles you feel spasm are part of your TVA. You must contract the TVA by taking a deep breath in, and then breathe out at the same time as pulling your belly button in towards your spine. In Pilates classes you will hear this being referred to as ‘navel to spine’. After practicing this exercise enough times so that you feel you have got the hang of it you can then try holding the TVA in for ten seconds while you continue to breathe. It can be a little difficult to begin with but with practice, you will be able to ‘fire and sustain’ your TVA anytime you exercise or lift your baby. Please be careful when you are purchasing your birthing ball that it is the ‘anti-burst’ variety. Cheap versions sometimes found in supermarkets can burst like balloons which could be disastrous during labor and pregnancy. An anti-burst birthing ball would just gently and slowly deflate if it were to be punctured. By Eirian Hallinan