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How to use a birthing ball

If possible, it's a good idea to keep moving during labour.

Birthing balls (or birth balls) can help you stay active, ease labour pain and reduce the pain of contractions.

They can also help you get into a more upright position, helping bring your baby’s head further down into the pelvis.

What size birthing ball?

You need to get a birthing ball that is the right size for your height. As a general guide, if you are:

  • up to 1.73m (5ft 8in) in height - use a 65cm ball
  • taller than 1.73m (5ft 8in) in height - use a 75cm ball

Ideally, your knees should be about 10cm (4in) lower than your hips when you sit on it.

A birthing ball will take your weight, whatever your size. Good quality birthing balls are pressure-tested to support weights up to 300kg (about 47st).

Anti-burst material

Make sure that your birth ball is made from anti-burst material - this means if it gets a puncture, it deflates slowly, rather than pops.

How to use a birthing ball

Only use a birth ball in labour if you've practised during pregnancy and feel safe and comfortable using it. Here are some of the ways you can use it:


When you sit on a birth ball, plant your feet on the ground about shoulder-width apart.

It's best to be barefoot if you can, otherwise wear non-slip shoes or socks. You can then move from side to side, move in a circular or figure of 8 motion.

This is a good position for your birth partner to massage your lower back during contractions.


You can lean on the ball from a kneeling position. Your birth partner can rub your back in this position.


Similar to leaning on the ball, get into a kneeling position lifting your bottom up, then gently rock from side to side.

Standing and leaning

Place your ball on a higher surface like a table, then lean over the ball from a standing position.

Have a look at these tips on using a birth ball during pregnancy and labour on the Tommy's website.

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