What can you do with a birthing ball?

Ah – the ubiquitous birthing ball, seen everywhere from gyms to birth educator’s homes. We’ve had one (sometimes two) in our house for years. We used them initially for pregnancy and labor but now they’re used either as toys or seats. They’re useful before pregnancy, during and well after too!

The birthing ball exists under a bunch of different names. They can be called exercise ball, yoga ball, Swiss ball, pregnancy ball, Pilates ball, gym ball, and more. They’re all the same thing, just marketed a little bit differently. If you’re on the lookout for one, don’t worry about what it’s called and just get one that gets good reviews.

So what exactly is a birthing ball for?

Relief , comfort & relaxation. They can help relieve pelvic discomfort & pressure by opening the pelvis and balancing the ligaments, tendons & muscles.

They can relieve lower back pain too. She can sit on it (on a non-slip surface), which will distribute her weight evenly on her hips and align her spine. She can also lean on it on ‘all fours’, letting it support her upper body and taking stress off her back. Both of those exercises, shown in the video below, are great for relieving non-pregnancy back aches too 😉

Just sitting, leaning on, bouncing on, rocking on them or doing figure eights can be relaxing too. It’s good to have options, when the pregnant mama’s having trouble getting comfortable.

Encouraging optimal fetal positioning. Ideally, the baby should be head down, facing mom’s back. This allows the baby’s chin to be tucked into her chest, letting the smallest part of her head come out first. Sitting & rocking on a birth ball can help this happen. The open pelvis, balanced ligaments etc and evenly distributed weight can help the baby settle into an optimal position.

Inducing labor. This is like the next level of optimal fetal positioning. When the baby is ready to be born, the same exercises that help it get into the right position can help it move lower into the birth canal, put pressure on the cervix – and kickstart labor.

Here are a few exercises that are good for both encouraging fetal positioning and inducing labor naturally:

You know what else can induce labor? Sex. So when the time is right, get busy! (Sorry, dad jokes are inevitable at this point…)

Relief, comfort & relaxation during labor. Yep – all the same exercises are super-useful during labor too. They can be more comfortable than a chair. Rhythmic rocking and swaying can help her get through contractions. Sitting or leaning on them exposes her back for massages from you. They can be leaned on for support during contractions OR when pushing the baby out.

You should be sold on birthing balls at this point. If they could only cook and put the baby down for a nap, they’d be the most perfect thing ever.

birthing ball

Choosing the birthing ball size

Guess what? The taller she is, the bigger ball she needs:

  • 55 cm ball if she’s under 5’4″
  • 65 cm ball if she’s between 5’4″ – 5’10″
  • 75 cm ball if she’s over 5’10”

Obviously if you’re going to use it too and there’s a big discrepancy between your heights, you’ll need your own ball.

IMPORTANT: When she sits on the birthing ball, her hips need to be higher than her knees. If her hips are lower than her knees then the ball is too small. This is important because it prevents the spine from extending, making it rounded . This can cause a backache AND prevent the baby from moving into an optimal position. So make sure the ball is the right size!

You can get the perfect one here (referral link) and be sure to get a pump if it doesn’t come with one.

The peanut ball

One last thing – there’s a variant of the birthing ball that comes in a peanut shaped. Surprisingly, it’s called a peanut ball. It has a few different uses than the typical birthing ball. It can be straddled  for better balance, put under the knees to raise the legs, used like a body pillow, and more. Trish really wanted one back in the day but they were hard to find. Nowadays, they’re freely available online, she recommends checking them out.

birth ball
Kids love birthing balls, once you have one you’ll never get rid of it.

Know a Rock Star Dad? We need photos of their awesomeness!

Rock Star Dads needs photos of Rock Star Dads!

Do you know a dad who’s awesome? We want to spread the love and share pix of awesome dads! Dads are important people. We want to raise awareness of awesome dad-ness and inspire other dads, dads to be and partners too!

We’re looking for all kinds of photos to share because dads can be awesome in so many ways. From babywearing to parenting teens and everything in-between, we’re looking for pix. If you have a picture that you feel captures a special moment with your rock star partners and your kid(s), we’d love to share it!

The photos we’re looking for need to include dads with their partners and/or kids, doing kick-ass dad things like:

  • Babywearing
  • Being silly
  • Birth coaching
  • Comforting
  • Cuddling
  • Multitasking & dadhacks (stuff like a babywearing dad pushing another kid in a stroller while walking two dogs)
  • Playing
  • Having fun

Dadhood is diverse and comes in all shapes and sizes. We’d like nothing more than to share the love and, if you want, tag you in social media.

Ready to share a pic?

Click here to review our release form and submit your photo. Thanks – you rock!

 

 

So you’re having a baby – now what?

So you’re having a baby. Statistics show that 72.3% of the the time, the news begins with the the words Guess what? (OK – I’m kidding but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true.)

This news can be exciting, relieving, stressful, joyous, surprising, or intimidating. Or it could be a combination of all those feelings (often summed up by the word Whoa).

The first time I found out that she was pregnant, we’d been trying for 1 1/2 years. It became a bit stressful and I learned way more about how to get pregnant than I ever thought I would. When I finally got the news, it was a relief.

You’re having a baby – now what do you do?

Once you’ve found out, what can you do? Besides wait, take childbirth education classes and catering to her needs? Here are 4 things we recommend based on our past experiences.

Embrace change

Things are going to change – there’s no question about that. You can run but you hiding is not advised. You could avoid the change. You could put things off. You could be all half-assed about it (like a certain someone[link] I know). But as Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda,

having a baby
Yes, I just quoted a cartoon. It’s a damn good one too!

Accept the change. Open those arms wide and embrace it. Welcome it. Because having a baby means you’re about to embark on a hell of an adventure. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself. You’ll learn how strong both of you are. And you’re going to watch your kids grow and change, which is amazing.

Take charge

Change is going to happen anyway so grab it by the horns. Educate yourself, about pregnancy, labor, childbirth and parenting. Knowledge is power. Or as the old GI Joe cartoon said it, Knowing is half the battle. There’s so much good information online these days – even reading up just 15 minutes a day is plenty. The more you know, the more helpful you can be to her.

Do more around the house. Clean more. Cook more. If you don’t know how to cook, start learning immediately (Google one pot meals for some easy ideas). These are all things you’ll have to do once the baby’s here, so start now instead of scrambling later.

Try to figure out how to do things quickly and more efficiently – especially when it comes to meals. Learning how to do more in less time is important because life with a baby is busy, busy, busy.

Take care of her

She’s doing all the heavy-lifting. Her body is going through all the changes. She’s going to get backaches. And probably morning sickness (which isn’t limited to mornings). She’s going to endure labor and childbirth. She’s going to go through a lot.

Nourish her with healthy food (and expect that she might love something now and hate the smell of it next week). Keep her hydrated. Let her rest (a lot). Give her massages (and they’ll be critical during labor too so you can make her feel good and prep for the future).

Spend time together (enjoy the uninterrupted time ;)). Talk to her. Listen to her. Be prepared for ups & downs; do the best you can to listen and understand.

Take care of yourself

It’s hard to care for someone else if our own needs aren’t taken care of. Self-care is important; be sure not to neglect yourself. Eat well, get sleep, exercise. Engage in your hobby, read a book, take a walk, be social. Watch your favorite movie or tv show. Spend time with people who make you laugh and smile.

Give yourself what you need because it’s hard to give to others when you’re running on empty. Do something, no matter how small, for yourself every day. This is good preparation for life as a family too.

These are 4 good ways to get started. Can you think of any more?

Expectant father: feeling nervous before birth?

This time feels different.  We’re going to have four kids – yikes!  How will they get all the attention and care they need?  How will we carve out time for ourselves?  I feel a little like cat hanging from a tree branch – it’s a bit of an Oh Sh!t moment – even being an expectant father for the fourth time.

I am feeling nervous before birth – for the first time.  During the last three pregnancies I was pretty chill about things, with a We’re having (another) baby?  Cool! attitude.  But this time I’m surprised to feel nervous.  I suppose it’s the number of children and knowing how things change once a baby is part of our lives.  The first was the biggest adjustment, the second was realizing we couldn’t trade-off on child duty anymore while the third felt pretty normal since we were already used to spending/doing lots with the other two.

Our next baby has me nervous – and I  totally understand what a nervous expectant father feels.

I can make myself feel less nervous by thinking logically:

  • I’m not the first to feel this way – other dads have felt the same and gone on to enjoy fatherhood and become great dads.
  • We’re not the first to have a large family – others have survived and thrived.
  • I have to prepare and try my best, because my children deserve nothing less.
These thoughts and reminders don’t make my nervousness go away but do make me feel a bit better 🙂

Image credit

Surprise! An unexpected pregnancy

Editor’s note: This unexpected pregnancy post was written in 2011 and we’ve stopped at 4. Chaz, otoh, recently had his 7th!

Apparently when it comes to us & kids, 3 is not the magic number – #4 is on the way!  This was a surprise, our first unplanned & unexpected pregnancy.  The other 3 were all planned, though the TTC (trying to conceive) times varied from 1 1/2 years to 1 week to 1 day.

I really wasn’t sure at all that I wanted any more children; in fact, it took me a couple of days to get used to the idea it but I’m very happy now.  Our third is almost 2 and at that absolutely wonderful stage of toddlerhood where new words come out every day and pretty much everything she does is adorable.  When she was born I tried savoring the experience, knowing it might be our last but this time I know for sure that we will be done and I’m looking forward to enjoying every last bit of babyhood, toddlerhood and all the ‘hoods forthcoming.

Here’s the kicker: we actually started talking vasectomy the week before we found out. And it was serious talk too, not the maybe it would be a good idea talk. It was the we might be totally done and safe unprotected sex sounds like it would be hella fun talk. Then we proceeded to have unsafe unprotected sex and here we are today O.o

Unexpected pregnancy update: 2017

Our surprise ended up being an adorable little boy whom we just can’t imagine being without! I wonder if just discussing vasectomy was enough for him to be like Wait up, keep that knife away from dad’s nuts til I’m out!

I’ve had a vasectomy since though so we are done, for sure. And yes – unprotected sex is totally all that and more. We’ll be writing about vasectomies in a future post, be sure to come back or subscribe to our newsletter!

Welcome

Welcome, to all fathers-to-be, partners and pregnant mamas. We’ve had the idea to do this for years and finally forged ahead because it had to be done. We’re excited about helping fellow fathers, partners and fathers-to-be. We’ve got 9 (almost 10) kids between the two of us and we’ve been active participants in our children’s births. We’ve learned that each and every birth is a learning experience.

That’s one big reason why we created Rock Star Dads – so other dads can become better birth partners, better than we were that first time. Coaching your partner through birth is intimidating, but with help you will be able to be the person she needs you to be.

You know what’s another big part of Rock Star Dads? Helping dads after birth too. The transition from from just the two of us to just the three of us (or more, if you have twins or older children) may take 10 months, but after our first was born, it was like jumping into freezing cold water. You can mentally prepare yourself for the shock & cold but man – you still feel it!

We prepared for the change but it was still a huge change.

We know there are a lot of fathers-to-be out there who’ve thought to themselves about what kind of a dad they’d like to be. Our goal is to do everything we can to bring out the best in expectant dads & partners!