LivingThe use of the fitball or Pilates ball during...

The use of the fitball or Pilates ball during pregnancy: what benefits it brings and how to use it

The Swiss ball, also known as a fitball or Pilates ball, is an inflatable ball between 45 and 85 cm that has multiple uses in gyms, although perhaps one of the best known is the one given during pregnancy.

And it is that sitting on this ball in pregnancy not only favors body posture, helping to reduce back and lumbar pain, but certain exercises help to mobilize the pelvis, relieve the weight of the pelvic floor and even make it easier for the baby to rotate when not properly seated.

We talked about the many benefits of the Pilates ball in pregnancy and how to use it correctly .

How Using a Pilates Ball Benefits You During Pregnancy

Midwife Sara Cañamero, founder of Maternatal, explains that the simple fact of sitting on the ball already has great benefits , since “the posture adopted to maintain balance directly influences the tone of the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor. When sitting on the ball, the pregnant woman adopts a correct natural position, with her back straight and respecting the curvatures of the spine. “

“In addition, exercising on this ball improves the flexibility of the pregnant woman, favors joint mobility of the pelvis and hips -with the benefits that this implies for childbirth-, and helps prevent and treat certain typical discomforts of pregnancy” , adds the expert.

So, if we analyze it in detail, sitting and exercising on a fitball provides the following benefits:

  • Since it is an unstable surface, when you sit on the ball, your body will have to make a greater effort to achieve balance and maintain a correct posture, activating the muscles of the abdominal area and the back. These muscles have an essential function during pregnancy, so exercising them will allow you to have a better physical preparation to face the changes that occur in this stage.

  • The body naturally adopts an upright posture when sitting on this ball, respecting the natural curvature of the spine. Therefore, sitting on a fitball during pregnancy will not only help you prevent back and lumbar pain, but if you already suffer from it, it will relieve you significantly.

  • Sitting on the ball helps absorb the impact of your weight on the pelvic floor , reducing pressure on the pelvis and avoiding damage to the muscles in that area.

  • The subtle movements we perform on the Pilates ball help improve blood circulation.

  • Exercising on the ball also promotes concentration and breathing, two fundamental exercises to maintain control in the face of childbirth.

  • During labor, exercising on the Pilates ball helps to free the pelvis, keep it moving, and help the baby fit in, also relieving the pain of contractions. Postpartum, the ball can also continue to be used to aid in the recovery of the pelvic floor muscles.

What you must bear in mind before using it

Always consult with your doctor or midwife before using the fitball, so that they can tell you if it is recommended in your case, as well as those exercises and precautions that you should take into account.

As we said at the beginning, the fitball has different diameters although the most used are 55 cm, 65 cm and 75 cm. The first thing you should do is choose the size of the ball that best suits your height and weight .

To know this, once swollen and when you sit on it, your feet must be completely flat on the floor, the knees at the height of the hips or slightly lower, and your legs must be bent at an angle of 90 degrees.

According to the size guide that we can find in Dectahlon, this is the diameter of the ball that you should choose according to size and weight:

  • Size 1 (diameter 55 cm): if you are less than 1.60 m and weigh less than 85 kg.
  • Size 2 (diameter 65 cm): if you are between 1.60 m and 1.80 m and weigh less than 85 kg.
  • Size 3 (diameter 75 cm): if you are taller than 1.70 m and weigh more than 85 kg.

Likewise, you must control how much air is inside the ball and modify it as the pregnancy progresses. Keep in mind that if you inflate it too much and it is too hard, your pelvis may open less, but it will be easier for you to keep your back firm. On the contrary, if it is too soft you will have a greater range of hip movement but you will lose stability.

Thus, and always following the manufacturer’s instructions, adjust the air volume according to your needs and the state of pregnancy in which you are.

Finally, you must bear in mind that if you have never used a Pilates ball, its use should be progressive to become familiar with it, and always adapting to the stage of pregnancy in which you are.

Pilates ball uses and exercises

Exercising on a Pilates ball is beneficial at any time during pregnancy, but it may not be until the second trimester that you really start to notice its positive effects.

The exercises that we show you below can be done comfortably at home . In addition, most of them can be practiced while doing other activities such as watching television, talking on the phone, reading or even working in front of the computer.

  • Swap the chair you use to work in the office for a Pilates ball . Your body posture will improve and so will the strain on your back and lower back. Similarly, when you are at home try to be sitting on the ball instead of on the sofa or armchair.

  • Sitting on the ball and with your legs slightly spread to the width of your hips, mobilize the pelvis with gentle circular exercises that will help to open your hips. You can also tilt your pelvis back and forth, or draw the infinity symbol. Remember that your hips must move along with the ball , and little by little, give greater amplitude to achieve a greater opening of the pelvis.

  • Get into quadruped and drop your chest and head on the ball , swinging back and forth without ever losing contact with the ball. These exercises, in addition to being very relaxing, help you stretch your back, free the pelvis, help the baby to position itself if it is not in the correct position and facilitate dilation at the time of delivery.
  • An excellent exercise to relieve back pain is to lie on your back on the ball , with your legs and feet firmly on the ground. Rock back and forth very gently. You must be very careful when you do this exercise , especially if you are in a very advanced stage of pregnancy or you have not done it previously, as stability and balance are lost. Always do it under the supervision and help of another person.

Many hospitals have fitballs in their dilation rooms , as their use has been shown to lower the baby and help relieve pain from contractions by releasing pressure in the sacrum and lumbar region.

However, if the hospital where you are going to give birth does not have these types of items, ask about the convenience of taking a ball from home. Unless there are any contraindications in your case, it is likely that they will not prevent you from using the ball in the room during the dilation set.

Photos | iStock, Pexels (Gustavo Fring)

Acknowledgments | Sara Cañamero, midwife and founder of Maternatal

In Babies and More | 11 Exercise Routines To Do At Home If You Are Pregnant During Quarantine, The 13 Best Exercise Apps To Stay Fit During Pregnancy

How much weight did you gain in pregnancy? Why is this a question you...

The issue of weight gain in pregnancy is one that usually generates doubts and, sometimes, controversy. As we have already explained on other occasions, the number of kilos that a woman gains during this stage is different for each one, depending on the type of body, routine and diet.

These are the best hospitals in Spain to give birth: 2022 ranking

When we are in the final stretch of our pregnancy and we think about childbirth, it is normal to feel uncertainty and nervousness, especially if it is our first time. For many women, it is important to know well the hospital where they will give birth, and even to have good references that help them face the moment in a more relaxed and confident way.

I have realized that my mental burden as a mother did not begin after...

A few days ago I reflected on the way in which motherhood has changed my life. All of us who have been through this know that, although we do not all experience it in the same way (the mere fact of giving birth at term or not can make a huge difference), exhaustion and mental load is a common denominator that identify them all. But when does that mental load really start?

She discovers that she is pregnant thanks to her Apple Watch, is it the...

The Apple Watch, or any smart watch, has multiple functions that help us on a daily basis, and some of them are related to health, such as heart rate measurement, which also allows us to keep track of the last few days .

Baby movements during pregnancy: why it is important to count them and the best...

During pregnancy, it is important that we take into account certain things that help us know if everything is going as it should. Of course, the best way to do this is by going to prenatal appointments.