by Angela Chromik
Dar a Luz recently introduced a Peanut Ball to the staff and birthing mothers at the Atlantida Hospital in La Ceiba. Nicknamed the “cacahuete” (which is peanut in spanish), the common birth tool brought curiosity and smiles to the staff. The peanut ball is especially helpful within the hospital at La Ceiba.
The peanut ball is regularly used when a woman has had an epidural or is too exhausted to move around. In Honduras epidurals are not available in public hospitals, but a peanut ball provides a great support when a woman is on bedrest during labor.
The Peanut ball is a wonderful aide that assists women in feeling more comfortable in side lying position or lying semi reclined in bed. Used between the legs to open the pelvic outlet, the positioning has been known to help rotate posterior babies as well as promoting dilation and descent with well positioned babies. It is believed the increased pelvic diameter helps to ease fetal rotation and allows the baby more room to descend.
In one study by Tussey and Botsois (2011), the peanut ball helped to shorten the first stage of labour by an average of 90 minutes, and the second stage of labour by an average of 23 mins. The sample size of the study was small (200 randomized women) yet it showed great potential for positive affects of the peanut ball. The use of vacuum and forceps were lower in the peanut ball group and the rate of C-section was lower by 13%.
Using the peanut ball and birth balls in the hospital as a volunteer has helped demonstrate to the staff how easily they can contribute to the comfort of labouring mothers. Implementing these simple and effective comfort measures aside from the regular hospital care routines offers a gentle influence to a less hands on birth culture. Small, simple, gradual changes can make a big impact. A huge thanks to our friend Anna for her fund-raising work in December which helped to bring many supplies to Honduras including the peanut ball.