"I loved my ball; it was so comfortable even just sitting on it and watching television," says mom of two Kim Smith of Cincinnati, Ohio. "It was almost the only comfortable place where I could sit, yet I was sitting properly with good posture. It was much better than slouching in a couch or chair."
A ball can also offer just the right support for practicing birth positions including supported squats and kneeling on all fours. And it's equally helpful for practicing the pelvic tilt, a key exercise for relaxing and opening up the pelvis.
Smith found the ball helpful during labor, too. "I sat on the ball and leaned over on the bed. It was very good at progressing my labor."
Choosing the Right Exercise Ball
Doing fitness ball activities effectively requires careful selection of a quality ball with the correct size. When selecting a ball, look for the following:
- Professional-quality, burst-resistant material that easily inflates. Some balls with deflate slowly if torn or punctured, giving you time to get off the ball safely.
- An easy-to-use inflatable pump and extra stoppers.
- The correct size ball for your body: If you're shorter than five feet three inches, you'll need a 55 cm ball; if you're taller than five feet three inches, look for a 65 cm ball.
Many fitness balls are sold with exercise videos. Be sure to look for a good pregnancy fitness routine to guide you through safe postures and exercises.