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Peanut-Shaped Exercise Balls May Shorten Women's Labor Stages

Jen Fenter at Banner Health

The Short of It

A new study in the "Journal of Perinatal Education" suggests that the use of a simple peanut-shaped exercise ball may speed up women's labors by almost two hours. Yes, you read that correctly: two hours!

The Lowdown

In the trial, laboring women were given a peanut ball after having an epidural. As compared to women who didn't have the peanut ball, the first group experienced a shorter first stage of labor by about 29 minutes and a shorter second stage by about 11 minutes.

That may not sound very long on the face of it, but as every laboring woman knows, each minute can feel like a lifetime.

Christina Tussey, MSN, RN, CNS, and Emily Botsios RNC, BSN, lead authors of the study and clinical nurses at Banner Health, told Parenting.com:

"The peanut ball is a low-risk, low-cost nursing intervention that promotes positive labor outcomes and has shown to shorten the length of labor. Of U.S. women who require a primary cesarean surgery, more than 90 percent will have a subsequent repeat cesarean. Women utilizing the peanut ball during labor had a statistically lower rate of needing a cesarean section for delivery, thus reducing the risks associated with the primary cesarean surgery and implications for subsequent pregnancies."

So why does it work? The ball seems to optimize conditions for laboring women by increasing the pelvic diameter and allowing more space for the fetus to descend into the birth canal.

No risks to mother or baby were noted in the use of the ball.

The Upshot

Tussey and Botsios say based on the success of the trial, they have implemented the use of the peanut ball in all their labor and birth units system wide.

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