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22nd Feb 2015

Labour in a nutshell: Nurse-led trial has new method for shortening labour

Peanut-shaped exercise ball shortens labour says new study: You'd be nuts not to give it a try

Sophie White

A study published in last month’s Journal of Perinatal Education suggests that the use of a simple peanut-shaped exercise ball may speed up women’s labours and will potentially reduce the incidence of caesarian sections. The trials were carried out on labouring women who had received an epidural and found that the ball reduced labour time through enabling the widening of the pelvis and improved positioning for foetal descent. Enjoy that mental image.

Research showed that, compared with women labouring without the peanut-ball, first stage labour was reduced by up to 29 minutes in some candidates and second stage labour was reduced by up to 11 minutes. For anyone who has not experienced labour these reductions may seem unremarkable but as every woman who has experienced it knows, when in throes of the miracle of birth minutes can feel like centuries.

Lead author of the nurse-led study, which was carried out at a Phoenix hospital, Christina Tussey said:

“The peanut ball is a low-risk, low-cost nursing intervention that promotes positive labor outcomes and reduces the duration of the delivery process. Women utilising the peanut ball during labor had a statistically lower rate of needing a cesarean section for delivery thus reducing the associated risks.”

Based on the success of the trial, the peanut-ball is now being used in all Phoenix labor and birth units. Let’s just pray that Ireland’s maternity units cotton on soon.