Banner Health is promoting the innovative use of "peanut balls'' to help our mothers in labor have easier and faster deliveries.
Peanut balls are peanut-shaped vinyl exercise balls that help relax and open the pelvis of maternity patients who have received epidural anesthesia.
By using peanut balls, a mother-to-be may have a shorter first and second stage labor and a lower chance of getting a C-section, according to research conducted at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.
The use of peanut balls was pioneered at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center and has been rolled out to other Banner facilities. The Banner Good Samaritan trial included 200 pregnant women who were carrying a term baby and who had an epidural.
Banner Good Samaritan maternity staff investigated the use of peanut balls because research shows that while epidurals may reduce pain, they prolong labor by an average of 40 to 90 minutes and increase the risk of lengthening second stage labor (pushing) to more than two hours. In addition, epidurals are associated with higher numbers of births by cesarean section and more instrument-assisted vaginal deliveries, including the use of a vacuum or forceps.
Research also shows that varying a mother’s position and separating her legs during labor widens pelvic diameter. Doing so helps ease fetal rotation and/or descent while reducing some of the pain of prolonged labor.
Women with peanut balls placed between their legs experienced increased pelvic diameter and, in turn, had more room for the fetus to descend.