Pregnancy Exercise Ball Stretches

Using exercise ball pregnant

Pregnant woman sitting on yoga ball

The exercise ball is one of our most utilized & recommended tools for pregnancy. You can utilize this tool throughout pregnancy to stretch, relieve pain, & prep for labor!

Table of Contents

Picking an Exercise Ball

Good news….you don’t need anything fancy when it comes to finding an exercise ball for pregnancy. In fact, our favorite option is on Amazon for under $20. Whichever exercise ball you decide to go with, you will likely notice that it deflates over time. Just re-inflate whenever you notice your ball is a little low on air! 

When it comes to picking the size of your ball, there are a few things to keep in mind. When you sit on the ball, you want your hips and knees to rest at 90 degrees. Your knees should not be above your hips; if they are then your ball is too short.  

Here is a guide to follow when looking for an exercise ball [based on your

Exercise ball size guide

Why You Need A Ball During Pregnancy

We recommend exercise balls, or birthing balls, to EVERY pregnant women. Oddly, they can be very versatile tools if you let them be! Mostly, we utilize the ball in order to stretch specific areas and muscles in the body than play roles in common pain complaints, like sciatica, round ligament pain, and SPD. We will go into ALL our favorite exercise ball stretches in this blog!

Aside from stretching during pregnancy, you can also use your ball as a chair or sofa alternative! Swapping your desk chair out for an exercise ball throughout your day can help with low back pain, pelvic pain, pubic symphysis dysfunction, & even upper back pain.

Mama’s can continue to use your ball postpartum too. Using the ball to sit during nursing can help encourage better posture to combat back pain. The ball allows movement through the pelvis and requires more core stability. If your little one isn’t enjoying tummy time on the floor, use the ball. The roundness of the ball is soft/rounded & can be more comfortable for babies who don't like tummy time! 

When Should You Start Using A Ball

There is no need to wait! The BEST time to start using an exercise ball during pregnancy is the first trimester, but you can start whenever! Start getting used to sitting, bouncing, and moving on and with your ball. The more comfortable you are — the more you will use it!  

Pregnant woman using yoga ball

Pregnancy Exercise Ball Stretches

Like we’ve mentioned, we think EVERY women needs an exercise ball during their pregnancy. Many women think of an exercise ball as a birthing tool or to prep for labor. But the fact is, it’s great to use your ball throughout pregnancy — to help relieve pain, stretch through tight areas, & prep your pelvis for labor. In the video, you’ll notice that you can use the ball for both support & to increase mobility in certain positions. In this pregnancy ball stretching demo, we focus on the pregnancy ‘problem areas’. You’ll find stretches for all the most common pain conditions women face during the prenatal period! 

In this video:

    • How to Use Your Ball for Pelvic Mobility & Adaptability
    • Pregnancy Ball Stretches for Round Ligament Pain
    • Rib & Upper Back Stretches with the Ball
    • Pregnancy Ball Stretches for Tailbone & Low Back Pain

Using the Ball for Pelvic Mobility

Pelvic mobility is an important piece to many pregnancy pain conditions: pelvic pain, pelvic floor pain, pubic symphysis dysfunction, low back pain, & tailbone pain. 

The pelvis is comprised of 3 main bones: 2 pelvic wings [what we thing of as our hip bones], and the triangle shaped sacrum in the center. With every step we take, our pelvic bones and sacrum should be shifting in opposite directions—forward and back. With stressors — like extended periods of sitting & standing, exercising, pregnancy changes— our pelvis and sacrum can get ‘stuck’ in a certain position. This stickiness, or lack of mobility, causes pain and influences in the surrounding muscles. In the clinic, we use manual adjustments to help gap joints and increase mobility in the pelvis. BUT you can work on pelvic mobility at home using a pregnancy exercise ball! The video will walk you through the details, but the idea is simple… sit on your ball and move your pelvis around! 

Movement Patterns to Try…

    • Pelvic Tilts - forward & backward
    • Pelvic Tilts - side to side
    • Circles - go both ways!
    • Figure 8’s
    • CHALLENGE: Extend your arms outward from your shoulders and try to keep your upper body as still as possible. You can hold a yoga strap, broom stick, towel, etc. 

For Low Back Pain & Pregnancy Tailbone Pain 

Stretch with your ball to target low back and tailbone pain during pregnancy! Low back pain can start at any point, while tailbone pain is more common during the third trimester and postpartum. Regardless of when you are dealing with the pain, grab your ball and stretch it out

You can use your exercise ball to stretch both the front and back of your pelvis and improve your pregnancy pain symptoms. You can stretch your hip flexor using the ball for additional support. For the back side of the pelvis, we like to focus on the piriformis muscle and the sacrotuberous ligament in a modified child’s pose.

For Round Ligament Pain 

Your round ligaments are located in the lower right & left quadrants of your torso. Later in your pregnancy, you may notice sharp, sporadic pain in this area as the ligament stretches with the growth of your baby. Stretching the round ligament can help provide pain relief and reduce any tension in the uterus that may be affecting babe’s positioning.

You’ll be on your knees with your arms outstretched on the ball in front of you. The further out you let the ball roll your arms, the more you will be able to drop your torso to the floor, creating space in the painful areas. For round ligament pain, you may feel more comfortable with the ball closer under the arms, almost like your giving the ball a hug. 

For Pregnancy Rib & Diaphragm Pain

During pregnancy, there is a dramatic shift in the rib cage to make room for the growing babe in our uterus. This places extra stress on our diaphragm, our main breathing muscle, & the ribs. Typically there is a sharp pain on the back side that gets worse with inhales. Additionally, diaphragm tension can cause pain that wraps around the torso and even contribute to heartburn symptoms.

Although you can’t change how your rib cage adapts to pregnancy, you can stretch the surrounding muscles to help with pain! Lying over the ball stretches the front of the chest and counteracts the natural rounding of the upper body that occurs during pregnancy. Sometimes, this stretch can even create mobility in the rib joints on the back side. Targeting the diaphragm can look very similar to the round ligament stretching we mentioned earlier. You simply move your upper body to target the tight areas you feel! See our Upper Back Pregnancy Stretches if your craving more mobility here!

Stretching with ball pregnant

Labor Prep With The Ball

Exercise balls are a common tool that women use during labor to help with positioning and comfort techniques. However, you can be using your ball to prep for labor far before the third trimester! Having a mobile and adaptable pelvis during pregnancy can lead to better baby positioning and ‘easier’ labors. Pelvic mobility on the ball is the simpliest exercise to prep for labor with your ball! You can also explore belly sifting…

Belly sifting is one tool we use with mamas for labor and delivery preparation. Sifting can be done with any kind of scarf [ a flat sheet works well too]. The scarf is wrapped around the entire belly, while mom is laying across the ball, belly down and tailbone up. The partner then lifts up on the scarf and ‘sifts’ back and forth. This takes the pressure and weight mom is carrying off the low back! See the partner video for a demo of this technique.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: belly sifting is not a safe option for women with anterior placentas [placenta is in the front]. If this is you, try glute sifting!

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Visit our Amazon shop to find products we use and recommend for pregnancy, labor/delivery and postpartum!  

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