Can a peanut ball shorten labor?


I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about being in labor for days. That was me with my third. I labored for exactly 48 hours. Like, full on contractions, 2-3 minutes apart, for two. whole. days. It was… something! But what I’m writing to tell you about is how things finally turned the corner, and I was able to wrap my arms around my newest little squish. Trust me pregnant mamas, you’re going to want to have this one in your bag of tricks! If you’ve ever wondered, can a peanut ball shorten labor?, then read on!! 

I’m a big believer in laboring at home for as long as you can. It helps to be in your own environment, free to walk around, change positions, use the shower or tub (if your water hasn’t broken) and most importantly eat as you please. Usually once you get to the hospital, you can cue the IV, continuous fetal monitoring and epidural, which leaves you in pretty much once position: in bed, flat on your back. Or does it?

After laboring at home for nearly 43 hours, and after 2 cervical checks, I was still only at 4 cm, and had been stuck there for over 24 hours. With no signs of progressing any further anytime soon, I was tired! I decided to abandon ship on the hypnobabies birth I had my heart set on, and go into the hospital for an epidural.

Its true, as soon as I got there I was hooked up to the monitor, IV and epidural, but I was so ready this time! What I wasn’t expecting though, was the little trick my L&D nurse had in store or me:

The peanut ball.

Peanut balls for chilbirth weren’t a thing with my first two births- at least I didn’t know about them if they were! I hadn’t seen them used when I worked as a Birth Assistant at a birthing center either. So when I saw the funny shaped ball she had to offer, I was doubtful that it would change anything when my body had already been at it for so long. My sweet and stubborn little man was facing the wrong way, which is why he was descending into the birth canal at a snail’s pace.

I was familiar with the birth ball“, and had spent many of my 43 hours at home sitting and rocking on it, because that was one of the places I felt the most comfortable. A birth ball is a labor staple you are not going to want to be without, by the way. I even used it though out my third trimester of pregnancy to start to get baby to engage into the pelvis- which, if a certain baby had been facing the right way would have worked a whole lot better… No hard feelings, Brayden!

But how was this oddly shaped ball that the nurse had going to help? Especially if more than half of my body was now numb? I was ready to try anything, and she was, after all, the professional.

The peanut ball looks like two smaller birth balls joined together in the shape of, you guessed it, a peanut! To use the peanut ball during labor, you lay on your side and put the ball between your thighs. Having your legs open in this position while laying on your side does magic for opening your pelvis!

We had tried everything at home to try to get my sunny side up baby to turn to no avail. We tried using a rebozo, lift and tuck, crawling on my hands and knees, but he wouldn’t budge. And although those can all be useful techniques to get a posterior baby to turn, they just weren’t working for me. What did finally work, was the peanut ball.

After only 1 hour of using the peanut ball, I had gone from being stuck at 4 cm for over 24 hours, to being dilated to 7 cm!

I was fully dilated to 10 cm soon after that.

After my son was born, my doctor confirmed that he had finally turned into the right position, which is why my labor had progressed so quickly at the end.

demonstration of how to use the peanut ball between your thighs in the laying down position to shorten labor. Can a peanut ball shorten labor?

The peanut ball works by opening the pelvis, allowing the baby’s head to turn in to the optimal position and descend into the birth canal. This puts pressure on the cervix, causing it to dilate. While laying on your side, shifting your weight slightly down towards your belly, place the peanut ball between your thighs. You’ll want to bring your knees up so that you are in a squatting position, only laying down on your side. You should switch sides every half hour or so, with the help of your nurse if you have an epidural.

It is excellent for moms who’ve had an epidural, but is just as useful for those who haven’t!

Labor is hard work, and sometimes you want to lay down and rest, no matter where you are. Rather than having progress slow down, using the peanut ball keeps your pelvis in proper alignment to keep labor chugging forward.

I’m not the only one who’s found success using the peanut ball. Studies have been done with women who used a peanut ball during labor, and show that it:

Shortens the overall time in labor, shortens the pushing phase, and also reduces the c-section rate!

That’s huge!! You can also read hundreds of reviews on amazon from people who sing it’s praises for shortening their labor.

Since their effectiveness is becoming more widely known, more and more Labor and Delivery units are beginning to keep a couple of peanut balls available for patient use. I got lucky not only that my L&D had one to offer, but also that it wasn’t being used by another patient. If you want to be sure you will have access to one, highly suggest purchasing your own to use while laboring at home, and to also bring with you to the hospital.

Not to mention, if I had known about using a peanut ball before I had gone into the hospital, and used one at home, I could have shaved hours off my labor by getting my posterior baby into the correct position!

I haven’t personally seen peanut balls sold in stores, though I’m sure they are out there. To save yourself the headache of searching, they are of course available on amazon. There are different sized peanut balls available, but the consensus is that the 40 cm peanut ball is the best size to use to shorten labor. And just think, when your baby gets older, they’ll have a fun souvenir to play with!

Two young children sitting on a peanut ball to play. Can a peanut ball shorten labor?

Have you heard of a peanut ball? Will you try one for your labor? Leave a comment and let us know!

XO, Markelle