Aniball is suitable to use from the end of the 36th week of pregnancy. Exercise for approx. 15-30 minutes each session; however, this time is a guideline only, as each pregnant woman is unique and the time required for proper relaxation may differ. At the beginning of the exercise, take the position that suits you best; for example, lying down on your back with slightly raised knees, kneeling, lying on your side, standing or crouching. Childbirth in the position in which your body feels most comfortable is usually the safest.
Inserting the Balloon
Settle into your chosen position and give yourself a few moments to become calm and relaxed. During exercise, remind yourself to remain relaxed and avoid muscle tension or muscle spasms in your neck, arms, hands or buttocks. The ability to stay calm and relaxed (not only during the following exercise but also during labour) will have a significant positive impact on your birth experience. The silicone balloon can be inflated for 1-2 pumps to give it some resistance. It is also possible to insert the balloon completely deflated. To insert comfortably and safely, it is recommended to moisten the surface of the balloon using exclusively a water-based lubricant intended for internal use (see Safety Precautions for Use). Now take hold of the balloon behind the plastic neck and gently push the larger rounded part into the vagina. Once inserted, if the balloon does not cause any pain or unpleasant feeling, you can begin to inflate it. A pump with a valve at the end of the tubing is provided for inflation. During inflation, the volume of the balloon increases and the pressure inside the vagina increases with it. This pressure is caused by the inflation of the balloon against the vaginal wall, stretching the surrounding muscles. You will experience very similar pressure during your childbirth. How much inflation is needed is individual to your body. The first time you use Aniball, it should be to a maximum of five pumps, including the pumps you performed before insertion. Subsequently, as you become comfortable with Aniball, you can increase the number of pumps, but always with great care and always stop if you feel pain. Whenever the balloon seems too big or unpleasant, you can use the valve to release air and thus reduce its volume.
Remain in the position that you selected for the exercise.
1. Conscious Control Over the Movement of the Balloon
You will learn to control the balloon’s movements inside your vagina. This requires some conscious effort and focus on your body and it takes practice to feel confident. The balloon can, depending on the activity of your pelvic floor muscles, move within the vagina, either out or inwards. If the pelvic floor muscles are actively withdrawn, the balloon sits deeper, but if you manage to relax these muscles consciously, the balloon will have the opportunity to move closer to the vaginal entrance. Training the controlled movement out of the vagina will help to prepare for your upcoming delivery. You can now try these conscious movements. While exhaling, try to squeeze the balloon using your pelvic floor muscles and feel its movement (now it should be submerging deeper into the vagina). Then inhale and relax your muscles (feel the balloon moving out of the vagina). The important thing is to gain control over these movements and to realize that only pelvic muscles allow the balloon (as well as the baby) to move down the birth canal outwards. The aim of this exercise is not to expel the balloon fully out of the vagina yet. Repeat the entire exercise of pulling the balloon in and out ten times.
2. Expulsion of the Balloon
Relax again and gradually move on to the expulsion of the inserted balloon. Use what you have learned in the previous exercise. While inhaling, relax your pelvic floor muscles and feel the balloon coming out of the body without any forced pushing. The aim of the exercise is to expel the balloon using only your breathing (inhaling) and conscious relaxation of the pelvic muscles. When exhaling, simply try to keep the balloon in the same position as upon the inhaling phase, and do not draw it deeper into the vagina. With another inhale, release your pelvic floor and move the balloon one step lower. You are now consciously expelling the balloon until the perineum slightly stretches out and the balloon comes out of the vagina. The balloon should not slip out of the vagina too quickly; therefore, hold it by the plastic neck (just as you do during insertion). If the balloon slips out too fast, it indicates a loss of control and could lead to injury. Even your baby will be held during delivery, so feel free to hold Aniball. The pressure, which you consciously create throughout the expulsion, should only come from the pelvic floor area. Tensioning of the neck, shoulders and hands, as well as contracting the abdomen and contracting the buttocks, is not desirable and indicates an incorrect function of the pelvic floor during the expulsion. If your body automatically does this, don’t worry, it’s very good that you’ve started practising with Aniball to gently prepare for birth.
3. Expansion of the Balloon
You have started exercising after the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, and you are approaching the date of your delivery with each passing day. It is therefore advisable to gradually get used to expelling a larger circumference of the balloon. However, be careful! It is not beneficial to increase the size of the balloon if it causes pain or significant discomfort. Clinical data shows that for effective prevention of birth injuries, it is sufficient to reach a balloon circumference of 25 cm (approximately 10 pumps). We recommend not to go beyond this to avoid injuries!! If you are worried about the balloon being too large or you do not feel good about it and you are comfortable with the current smaller size, it is perfectly all right, and there is no need to force yourself into increasing balloon size. The most important thing is conscious control over the movements of the balloon inside the vagina and getting used to the birth canal for the child’s future passage. The same applies when the expulsion of a larger balloon causes great pain or even the possibility of injury to surrounding tissue. In this case, there is also no reason to force yourself into increasing balloon size. Follow the rule to always exercise with such a size that is tolerable and relatively pleasant both for your body and your mind. Never take on more than you can handle, do not expose your body to pain or injury. Do not compare yourself with other mums at the same stage of pregnancy. Each of us is unique and it’s important to listen to, and respect your body’s limitations. Remember that the hormones that are released within your body during childbirth will have a huge impact on your body’s responses – so not being able to practice with a larger balloon size during pregnancy does not mean you will struggle to deliver your baby. You may use the enclosed tape measure to keep track of the size of the balloon. But once again, numbers are not your goal! The goal is to be a healthy, calm and ready mother who can control the pelvic floor to encourage an easier passage for your baby with minimal injury to your own body.