Outcomes of Exercise Training Following the Use of a Birthing Ball During Pregnancy and Delivery

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Fournier, D, Feeney, G, and Mathieu, M-E. Outcomes of exercise training following the use of a birthing ball during pregnancy and delivery. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1941–1947, 2017— Using a birthing ball (BB) is an exercise form that is growing in popularity. Improved delivery outcomes have been recently reported with as little a 6–8 hours of training per week; however, little is known regarding lower and higher training levels. The aim of this study was to document whether more time spent training with a BB resulted in improved delivery outcomes for the mother and the newborn. This quasi-experimental study was conducted with a sample of women who participated in 1 to 28 supervised exercise classes during pregnancy according to the Ballon Forme program offered in nonclinical settings (http://ballonforme.com), with the option of completing the supervised BB exercises performed at home. Thirty women who gave birth naturally were included in the study. Mean BB training time was 22.3 hours (SD = 16.6 hours). A greater BB training time was significantly associated with shorter labor duration (r = −0.408; p = 0.031) and specific stages of labor (stage 1 [dilatation/active stage] [r = −0.372; p = 0.043] and stage 2 [expulsion] [r = −0.415; p = 0.028]). Increased participation in BB supervised classes was more closely associated with quicker deliveries than those of home based BB exercises. No associations between training time and adverse effects of labor parameters or the baby's health were noted. Greater involvement in BB training seems to lead to quicker deliveries than lower levels of involvement; it also has the benefit of supervised practice.

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