Peanut Balls For Labor

Written for Premier Birth Tools by Missy David, BS, CD(DONA), CYBET

If you hear the term “peanut ball,” you may be thinking of the delicious popcorn treat consisting of popped corn, dry roasted peanuts, melted marshmallows and creamy peanut butter. While these are a wonderful treat any time of the year, these aren’t the kind of peanut balls we’re talking about!

What is a Peanut Ball?

The peanut ball is an exercise or therapy ball that is shaped like a peanut: oblong shaped, larger on each end and slightly narrower in the middle. Peanut balls can be used for a variety of strength training or physical therapy needs as well as by laboring women.

4 Different Sizes of Peanut Balls. Starting with 40cm on the right, 50cm, 60cm, and 70cm in ascending order. Each ball has its own name.
4 Different Sizes of Peanut Balls

Peanut Ball as a Birth Tool

Peanut balls are the latest birth tool to hit the birthing world. Although they have been around awhile, they are really taking off this year (2014). Andrea Lythgoe, LCCE and doula, in her article for a recent Science and Sensibility article shares,

“The peanut ball is most commonly used when mom needs to remain in the bed, whether because of epidural use, complications, or simply because mom is exhausted” [i]. The peanut ball is placed between the laboring woman’s legs, opening the outlet to her pelvis while she relaxes. It can be used at a hospital or a home birth with or without an epidural. 

Research on the Peanut Ball

While there is not much research on the Peanut Ball’s use in childbirth, one study offers compelling suggestions that the use of the peanut ball may significantly reduce labor length. According to Tussy and Botsios, “The use of the PB during labor for patient with an epidural, as compared with standard nursing intervention, did significantly reduce the length of labor, without adverse neonatal outcomes” [ii] Premier Birth Tools has a FREE research document called: Evidence Based Research on Peanut Balls  

How the Peanut Ball is Used

Peanut Balls are typically used two ways primarily:

1. The laboring mother is in a semi reclined position, with one leg over the ball, and the other leg to the side of the ball. The doula, nurse, or other support person pushes the ball as close to the mother’s hips as is tolerable to her. Many feel this position promotes dilation and descent with a well-positioned baby.

2. While the mother is in a side-lying or semi-prone position, the peanut ball is used to lift the upper leg and open the pelvic outlet. Many feel this position helps rotate a baby in a less-favorable posterior position to a more favorable position for delivery.

There are now over 50 peanut ball positions. The New Book:  The Peanut Ball: Basic and Advanced Techniques for Use During Labor and Delivery It is an INSTRUCTIONAL guide on HOW to do the position. Prepare for a birth through the use of peanut balls, a proven tool used in labor and birth to decrease the Cesarean rate. In this comprehensive guide for nurses, physicians, doulas, midwives, childbirth educators, and expectant parents. Author, national speaker, nurse, doula, and childbirth educator, This book contains more than 50 basic and advanced positions to assist in labor and birth through more than 200 instructional images.

A picture  is worth more than words when trying to describe a position to a client. Position Charts help by showing pictures of peanut ball positions. This set of 5 Peanut Ball charts is a VISUAL guide to SHOW the client the position with pictures. Peanut Ball Bundle, Set of 5 Charts 

Learn More

At Premier Birth Tools we aim to provide you with the most relevant and easy to use tools to assist you in using the Peanut Ball in confidence with your clients. Contact us with any questions or testimonials on your use of the Peanut Ball for Labor. We have a FREE peanut ball packet called: Peanut Ball Nurse Packet


[i] Science and Sensibility, Peanut Balls for Labor – A Valuable Tool for Promoting Progress?
[ii] AHWONN Web Program – Decrease the Length of Labor with the Use of a Labor Ball with Patients That Receive An Epidural, June 2011