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Ever wondered what a birthing ball does and if it’s worth investing in one? A large inflatable ball that looks very similar to the ones you find at the gym, you can use a birthing ball to alleviate aches and pains associated with pregnancy and labour.
The best birthing balls are multifunctional and can be used long after your baby is born. While there are specific birthing balls available, most gym balls – also known as Swiss or yoga balls – are fine to use, but do check what size you need and that your chosen ball is safe to use during pregnancy and birth.
What are the benefits of a birthing ball?
When used during pregnancy, a birthing ball distributes your weight more evenly, easing back and pelvic pain, and helping you to sit more comfortably - this can be especially useful during the third trimester when it becomes harder to move around. Sitting on a ball can also give your core a workout and improve balance and posture.
Bouncing on a birthing ball helps to prepare your pelvis for labour and get your baby in the right position. It can also reduce the pain of contractions and help you get in a more upright position, which can shorten the length of your labour.
With so many different types of exercise balls around, we wanted to get to the bottom of which ones are best for aiding pregnancy and birth. We started by searching the Mumsnet forums to find out which balls Mumsnet users recommend and researched these products on other expert review sites too. We also consulted medical sources for up-to-date birthing ball advice.
Here are the eight best birthing balls that all offer the support and comfort you need during pregnancy, birth and beyond.
1. Best overall birthing ball: BABYGO Birthing Ball
Price: From £22.95 | Buy now from Amazon
“I got the BABYGO. I bought one the moment my hips and lower back started to hurt (which is 27 to 28 weeks) and now I am working from home again, I am using it instead of a chair. Love it. You can get it as early as you like.” Mc3209
“I got a BABYGO birthing ball which came with a booklet of exercises for using the ball during (and after) pregnancy.” AdventuresAwait
Strong, colourful and versatile, the BABYGO is one of the most popular birthing balls among Mumsnetters and comes highly recommended by midwives and obstetricians.
A handy 100-page booklet provides useful information about nutrition, labour and postpartum recovery, with more than 35 exercises you can do throughout each stage of your pregnancy - from simple sitting positions to gentle movements to help build up strength, relieve aches and pains, and get your baby in the right position.
Made from hypoallergenic PVC, the ball is five times stronger than standard gym balls – in fact, it can hold up to 1000kg - so you can have a peace of mind that you’re safely bouncing, whether it’s during labour or later with your baby.
- Comes with 100+ page pregnancy booklet
- Includes a pump and measuring tape to get the right height
- Five times stronger than gym balls
- Hypoallergenic PVC, free from phthalates and latex
- Anti-burst so it deflates safely when needed
- Can be a faff to pump up
- Some users found parts missing upon delivery
2. Best budget birthing ball: Opti 65cm Purple Gym Ball
Price: £8.49 | Buy now from Argos
“Have just ordered one from Argos - only £8 and comes with a pump! Can't go wrong. It's just an exercise ball.” Chichz
You don’t have to get a specific birthing ball to see you through - the Opti Gym Ball is just as effective for bouncing and sitting on during pregnancy and labour.
It’s not as strong as the likes of BABYGO Birthing Ball, but it can still hold up to 125kg and is available in three different sizes, although the 65cm and 75cm will be the most suitable for pregnancy and labour.
The ball has an anti-burst core, which means it goes down slowly if it starts to deflate, and a pump is included so you can top it up when needed. This is a decent all-round birthing and gym ball at a budget-friendly price.
- Versatile so can be used during pregnancy and for exercise
- Anti-burst so it slowly deflates
- Some users found the pump wasn’t very effective and let out air easily
- Not as strong as other birthing balls
3. Best value birthing ball: REEHUT Anti-Burst Core Exercise Ball
Price: From £11.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“Definitely good for all stages of pregnancy. Just make sure whichever one you buy states 'anti-burst.' You can get ones specifically called pregnancy ones but they're the same as Swiss or gym balls. Check your height as they come in different sizes.” CleverWittyUsername
The REEHUT Exercise Ball has an anti-burst core and is extra thick for holding around 500kg of weight. The honeycomb foam coating prevents it from rupturing easily if it comes into contact with any sharp items.
The free pump does mean you can inflate it and top it up if it loses air. Another handy feature is the high grip, non-slip surface so it doesn’t move around easily when you’re bouncing.
With three sizes and three colours available, you’ll find one that is right for you. It’s not a bad price either for a ball that can be used during pregnancy and beyond.
- Thick material and anti-burst core
- Can hold up 500kg
- Non-slip surface
- Free pump included
- Not as strong as birthing balls like the BABYGO
- Some users found it deflates easily
4. Best birthing ball for labour: Natural Birth and Fitness Birthing Ball
Price: From £17.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I got one quite early on. I'm 30 weeks now and have been sitting on it the past few weeks to watch TV and it's much more comfortable than the sofa.” 1990shopefulftm
The Natural Birth and Fitness Birthing Ball has everything you could need for exercising and relaxing during pregnancy. It’s stronger than standard gym balls and can be bought in sizes ranging from 55cm to 75cm.
A measuring tape and hand pump are included and an eight page booklet gives lots of helpful information about how to use the ball during pregnancy, including pre- and postnatal exercises, optimal foetal positioning diagrams, pelvic floor exercises, labour support and natural birth positions.
The non-slip material also helps keep the ball steady when you’re bouncing or exercising.
- Anti-burst birthing ball
- Non-slip material
- Made from non-toxic PVC
- Hand pump and measuring tape included
- Comes with instructions for all stages of pregnancy
- Pump is not the best quality
5. Best birthing ball for pregnancy and exercise: UMI Exercise Fitness Ball
Price: From £18.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I love mine. It’s so comfortable to sit on. I can’t sit for long at all on a chair or the couch - the ball has been a complete godsend.” snoopy18
The UMI by Amazon Exercise Ball has been designed so you can use it long after your baby is born. An exercise ball that’s suitable for use during pregnancy, it can help to build up strength, improve posture and relieve pregnancy aches and pains.
The anti-slip material and anti-burst core make it safe and sturdy for doing gentle exercises, yoga, aerobics, cardio workouts or relaxing, so it won’t gather dust once your baby arrives.
- Pump included
- Anti-slip material and anti-burst core
- Can be used for a range of exercises
- 200kg weight capacity
- Sizes 55cm to 75cm
- Some users have had issues with it deflating and needing to be topped up
- More expensive than other gym balls
6. Best birthing ball with anti-slip mat: Mind Body Future Exercise Ball
Price: From £23.97 | Buy now from Amazon
“An exercise ball is perfectly safe to sit on whenever. I use mine instead of an office chair at work and have done since my pelvis started to get a bit achy at the start of the second trimester.” BadAlice
Thanks to the anti-slip base ring, you can bounce as vigorously as you like on the Mind Body Future Exercise Ball as it won’t move around.
It’s more expensive than other birthing balls, but it’s been designed to suit all your needs - from yoga and physiotherapy to pregnancy and sitting at your desk. Made from heavy-duty hypoallergenic PVC, it’s said to be 40% thicker than other gym balls and can hold up to around 900kg in weight.
Three sizes of ball are available and there’s a measuring tape and foot pump to help you get it to the right size.
- Comes with anti-slip base ring to hold the ball in place
- Anti-burst core
- Can hold up to 900kg (approx.)
- Made from hypoallergenic PVC
- More expensive than other birthing balls
- Some users have complained that the foot pump isn’t good quality
7. Best heavy-duty birthing ball: Trideer Exercise Ball
Price: From £17.49 | Buy now from Amazon
“I got it [this one] from Amazon - pretty cheap. I just went for an exercise ball rather than a specific maternity one.” Jalu47
Made from thick, non-toxic PVC, the Trideer Exercise Ball has been made to withstand rigorous workouts, with non-slip lines running around the ball to keep it firmly in place.
Holding up to almost 1000kg in weight, it’s sturdy and durable too, whether you’re using it as an office chair, for HIIT workouts or for bouncing on during labour.
Be careful not to put it near any woodwork or painted walls though as it may leave a mark.
- Anti-burst for slow deflation
- Non-slip surface
- Can hold up to almost 1000kg
- Non-toxic PVC
- Some users found it didn’t inflate to the correct height
- Could damage woodwork or painted walls
8. Best birthing ball for strengthening your core: Core Balance Gym Ball
Price: From £12.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I've got one and it's way easier than sitting on the sofa, as I can't get up without help now! I got it around 25 weeks but have found it to be most useful the last few weeks (I'm 35 weeks) and plan to use one in labour too. They're highly recommended in my yoga and NCT classes as it means you’re not reclining back on the sofa, meaning baby has a better chance of getting in (and staying in) the right position rather than being laid back against gravity. They also help with posture, etc.” cardboard33
As our core muscles can suffer during pregnancy (some mums say they’re never the same again), bouncing on the Core Balance Gym Ball not only relieves back pain, but can help to build up strength in your core too. Even just sitting, lying or leaning on it engages your core and helps to improve your posture.
The Core Balance Gym Ball is an exercise ball that can be used during pregnancy and labour and there are four sizes available – 55cm and 85cm – which could be useful for women who find average birthing balls too big or too small.
A handy guide helps you work out which size is right for your needs and height. With a maximum load of 250kg in weight, it isn’t as strong as other birthing balls such as the BABYGO Birthing Ball and Mind Body Future Exercise Ball, but thanks to the tough PVC and anti-burst design it offers more than enough support.
- Comes with a pump, tape measure and spare plugs
- Tough PVC material and anti-burst design
- Four sizes catering for women that are smaller or taller than average
- Maximum weight load is less than other birthing balls
When should you start using a birthing ball in pregnancy?
A birthing ball is great for exercising and providing comfort at any stage of pregnancy. But from around 32 weeks, it’s ideal for doing gentle exercises which can ease aches, pains and anxiety. Bouncing on a birthing ball can also help to prepare your body for labour and get your baby in the right position.
If you’re concerned about whether you’re using your birthing ball correctly or it’s causing any discomfort, speak to your midwife or GP.
How long should I bounce on a birthing ball?
There’s no set time limit for this. During pregnancy, a birthing ball can be used as a replacement chair when a sofa or office chair is no longer comfortable.
When bouncing to induce labour, the longer you do it the more pressure you will put on the cervix. You could try bouncing, rocking and exercising for up to an hour or, if that’s too much, you could do it for shorter intervals of around 15 minutes at a time.
Make sure that you’re comfortable when using your birthing ball and that your back is in line with your hips. You should take rests whenever you need them.
What size birthing ball is best?
Birthing balls tend to be either 65cm or 75cm. If you decide to use a yoga or Swiss ball, these can be smaller so do check that it will be big enough when inflated for you to sit correctly. When you sit on a birthing ball, your knees should be about 10cm lower than your hips.
Generally, if you’re 5’8” or shorter, you need a 65cm ball. If you are 5’9” or taller, then a 75cm ball is best. You can also buy peanut-shaped balls which aren’t as high but can help you get in a squatting position for labour.
Birthing balls should have an anti-burst core which means they slowly deflate rather than pop suddenly. They are built to take a lot of weight, sometimes up to 1000kg, but they will lose air over time so keep a pump handy for topping up. Be careful not to over-inflate though as this can make the ball hard to use.
How to use a birthing ball
During pregnancy, sitting on a birthing ball can help to reduce aches and pains as well as provide a more comfortable place to sit when you’re working or relaxing.
Bouncing and rocking is also a good way of exercising as it works your tummy and back muscles, which helps you to build up strength. It’s also a great aid for exercising your pelvic floor muscles.
Best birthing ball exercises for pregnancy
Before doing any exercise on a birthing ball, make sure you have a clear area around you and that you are confident using the ball.
- In a sitting position, rock your pelvis from side to side, making sure to only move your waist and hips, not your shoulders.
- Slowly tilt your pelvis forwards and hold for a few seconds, then slowly rock your pelvis back into a slumped position.
- Gently rotate your pelvis in circles, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
- Finally, lean over your ball in a kneeling position - you may want a pillow under you so you feel comfortable - and rock your hips from side to side and forward and back.
If your baby is in a posterior (back-to-back) position, getting on your hands and knees and leaning forward over your ball can help to encourage your baby to move positions.
Try to get confident using the ball before going into labour. Practice positions and work out which ones you find most comfortable.
Best birth ball positions for labour
You can try using these techniques when you’re in the first stage of labour:
- Sit astride the ball and rock your pelvis from side to side or back and forth.
- Lean on your birthing ball from a kneeling position.
- Get into a hands-and-knees position by hugging your birthing ball and lift your bottom up from a kneeling position. You can then rock your pelvis from side to side.
- Leaning over your ball from a standing position, with the ball on the bed or another surface.
When it’s time to start pushing, get into the leaning or hands-and-knees position so it takes the pressure off your bottom and gives your baby lots of room to come out.
Even after your baby is born, a birthing ball has lots of uses. If you’re sore from birth, a ball may be more comfortable to sit on and it can be used for breastfeeding too. Babies also find the bouncing soothing. Just make sure you’re comfortable and confident on it before sitting down with your baby.
Once you’re healed and ready to start exercising again, a birthing ball can then be used as part of your fitness routine too.
What is the best birthing ball?
Strong, colourful, and versatile, the BABYGO Birthing Ball is the best birthing ball to buy right now. It comes with a handy 100-page booklet providing useful information about nutrition, labour and postpartum recovery, as well as 35 exercises for each stage of pregnancy.
Made from hypoallergenic PVC, the ball is five times stronger than some gym balls so you can safely exercise on it during pregnancy and beyond.
How we chose our recommendations
Most of our recommendations for birthing balls came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which birthing balls Mumsnetters really rated. We also researched various review sites to find out which birthing balls performed well across the board.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.