What is a peanut ball?

If you have been reading about birth positions or birth tools, there is a good chance you may have read about using a peanut ball during labor. As a birth ball fan girl, I am here to tell you they are 100% worth the hype that has been created around them. I love utilizing peanut balls during labor when supporting families as a birth doula or midwifery assistant because they help shorten labor, decrease chances of cesarean, and are incredibly helpful for those who choose to use an epidural! 

From my experience as an Oklahoma birth doula, I can tell you that most Central Oklahoma hospitals have birth balls for their birthing patients. Although, I am always sure to bring my own tools along with me to hospital births I am supporting. This is because there have been times where the labor and delivery floor was extremely busy and they ran out of birth balls  and didn’t have enough for every laboring parent. 

Also, sometimes the hopsital may or may not have the correct size ball in supply.  If you are a doula, I recommend at least having the different sized and shaped birth balls on hand in case your client needs them. It is always a fantastic idea to have a back up plan. 

3 Reasons why I love using peanut balls as birth tools

OKC Doula Jenni peanut ball

1. Peanut Balls Are Spectacularly Useful For Births With An Epidural

When someone is given an epidural, they are no longer able to walk or bear weight on their legs without support. This can make using labor positions & gravity to help baby descend difficult. Using a peanut ball to help a birthing person using an epidural results in a widened pelvic outlet. This widened pelvic outlet helps baby descend into the birth canal. The Gifford et al. (2000) study reported that lack of progress in labor was the reason for 68% of unplanned cesarean surgeries

2. Peanut Balls Help Shorten Labor Time

A 2015 study found that women who used the peanut ball versus those who did not demonstrated shorter first stage labor by 29 min and second stage labor by 11 min. “Position changes during first and second stages of labor may provide many benefits for the patient including pain relief, maximizing blood flow, decreasing length of labor, and enhancing satisfaction with their birth experience” (Priddis, Dahle, & Schmied, 2012). You can compare this to not being able to freely move and change positions or having to lay in a supine position causing increased labor times (Culter, 2012). Being able to move freely and change positions during your labor experience may decrease pain, encourage strong uterine contractions, and enable baby to properly descend into the birth canal. All of these of which decrease the chances of cesarean section (Zwelling, 2010).

3. Using A Peanut Ball Reduces A Birthing Person's Chance Of Cesarean

Cesarean surgery is often perceived as benign, but the surgery can place the woman at an increased risk of infection, hemorrhage, damage to abdominal and urinary tract organs, longer recovery, and complications from anesthesia (Tussey, C. M) The most common cause of cesarean is labor stalling or not progressing. Yet, utilizing birth ball and peanut balls during labor can encourage labor progression (Gau, Chang, Tian, & Lin, 2011; Johnston, 1997; Zwelling, 2010). This is because peanut balls and birth calls assist in “spinal flexion, increasing the uterospinal angle, and increasing the pelvic diameters to facilitate occiput posterior rotation (Zwelling, 2010), which results in a widened pelvic outlet. In general, exercise/birthing balls widen the pelvic inlet and outlet dimensions”.

Where can I get Peanut Balls?

If you are pregnant, I recommend asking your doula or midwife if they can bring their birth balls along with them to support you. That will save you a little bit of money from having to buy them yourself and your birth team should know how to properly support you with this awesome tool! 

If you are a birth worker (doula, midwife, etc) or you are a pregnant parent and would like to have your own peanut balls on hand, I reccomend purchasing your peanut balls from Premier Birth Tools.  Premier Birth Tools is a family owned business that sells peanut balls of all different sizes as well as helpful charts and resources. While you could possibly buy a Peanut ball from an online store like Amazon, the Premier peanut balls are rated for labor and birth whereas a peanut ball from Amazon may not be able to withstand the stress from active, intense use during labor. Furthermore, you are supporting a small business but purchasing from Premier!  I highly recommend purchasing the birth positional charts that give you visual representations on how to use peanut balls, birth balls, and birth positions to support labor. 

Mandy Irby & Peanut Balls

There is no way we can talk about peanut balls and not discuss Mandy Irby! Mandy Irby is a Labor and Delivery Nurse who is passionately working to teach other nurses and birth support persons how to properly utilize birth tools during labor.  I added one of her videos discussing peanut balls for you to continue to learn about how fantastic this tool is for various types of birth journeys!  For additional videos please click here.

OKC Birth Doula Jenni Jenkins

Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma City Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum doula and Child Birth Educator who serves her Central Oklahoma  community.   She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and began her journey as a student midwife with the Midwives College of Utah in 2022. 

Jenni is also the creator & facilitator of the Kaleidoscope OKC LGBTQ Family Support Group & the Nurture Oklahoma Live Interview Series.

To learn more about Jenni, please click here.