When I was pregnant I thought I’d need a million different things to help me care for my baby–from cribs and co-sleepers to bouncy chairs and Bumbos–my Must Buy List was impressively long. I used all of that stuff a little bit (though, admittedly, there were some gadgets that I barely got out of the packaging before my daughter had outgrown them). But nothing (really, NOTHING!) has turned out to be as useful as my yoga ball (also known as exercise or stability balls). Yoga balls are inexpensive, fun, and, most important, versatile–seriously, they have a million different uses.
1. Back savers. When I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, there were two things that could ease my low back pain. One was a vibrating lumbar pillow that I used behind my desk and behind the wheel of my car every single day (kind of like this one). The other was squatting in the floor with my back leaded up against my yoga ball.
2. Inducing labor? I heard that bouncing on a yoga ball is a way to start contractions and ultimately induce labor. I’m pretty sure this is a crock of crap (it definitely did not work for me!), but I’m throwing it out there just in case.
3. Laboring at home. Once my labor started, my plan was to stay at home for as long as I possibly could so there would be fewer chances for interventions that I did not want at the hospital. Of course, I ended up rushing to the hospital positive I was going to have a baby any minute, then spent a good 8 more hours in a hospital bed before I finally got to meet my little one. In any case, for the early part of labor it was nice to have a yoga ball (“birthing ball“) to help me move into different positions to get as comfortable as possible.
4. Colic calmer. Until my baby was a good 9 or 10 months old there was really only one way to calm her down when she cried–cradling her in my arms while I bounced gently on my yoga ball. I was elated when she finally let me sit in a rocking chair with a nice, solid back to rock her to sleep instead of bouncing. But, honestly, bouncing on a ball was definitely better than, say, walking the halls with her strapped to me in her Moby Wrap.
5. Indoor playground equipment. When my little one had gained good control over her head, she giggled with delight when I put her on her belly on the ball and gently rolled her back and forth. Once she learned to stand on her own, the ball made for an excellent bongo drum!
6. It “tickles” my toddler. Now that my little one is 21 months old, we’ve been using the ball a lot again. One of her favorite things to do (again!) is to sit on my lap as I bounce up and down on the ball. When she was teeny tiny, my bouncing was to soothe her. Now, the bouncing is strictly for entertainment purposes. There’s nothing more gratifying than hearing your toddler laugh and say (in a voice that sounds so grown up it’s crazy!), “This is fun, Mommy! This is FUN!”
So there you have it.
If you’re a mommy-to-be who I love and adore in real life (as opposed to just online) and you get a yoga ball from me as a gift, please do NOT think for a second I’m interested in encouraging you to “lose the baby weight” after you give birth. Please don’t worry about that at all. You have your whole life to think about how you look in a bikini, but these precious moments with your little one will be over in the blink of an eye. Your body is amazing! It grew a person! I digress.
A yoga ball (exercise ball, stability ball, birthing ball, whatever you want to call it) was one of the best things I had as a new mama. If you’ve got one in your house already, I hope this post will give you some ideas about how to use it with your little one. If not… Buy one immediately! 🙂 Here’s a link to the the one I have.