You must see this simple and super entertaining demo of what actually happens during delivery.

Sarah Klein
November 10, 2017

Childbirth educator Liz Chalmers just thought she was posting a helpful video for her niece, who was following in her footsteps and planning to teach labor classes too. Little did she know her Facebook video—in which she demonstrates childbirth using a pink balloon and a ping pong ball–would soon have millions of views.

It’s easy to see why so many viewers have been curious: If you’ve never given birth (heck, maybe even if you have!) you probably have a lot of questions about the miraculous yet mysterious process. Sure, you know something’s supposed to dilate…but what exactly? And when? And why?

Chalmers calmly (and dare we say, soothingly?) walks us through the entire show, from conception—by inserting the ping pong ball into the balloon—to the end of the third trimester, when the ping pong ball settles into the balloon's neck.

I put this together for my niece Charlotte who, to my absolute delight, is working toward becoming a childbirth educator in New Zealand :) (Edited to add...wow! This little video has gone much further than I ever expected. I've had several requests for a YouTube version, so I uploaded it there too. https://youtu.be/URyEZusnjBI)

Posted by Liz Chalmers on Thursday, October 26, 2017

It’s an exercise Chalmers, a co-owner of Puget Sound Birth Center in Washington, says she used in her classes after learning it herself at a workshop called Stomp Out Boring Childbirth Classes.

Once the balloon is inflated and the ping pong ball is comfortably nestled in, Chalmers simulates Braxton Hicks contractions to show that, even though they’re common toward the end of pregnancy, “they don’t do all that much to what’s happening to the cervix.”

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Then “labor” progresses: “Real contractions happen at the top of the uterus,” Chalmers says in the clip. “That’s where the power of contractions happen.” As she squeezes the top of the balloon to simulate contractions, you can see the neck of the balloon appearing to shrink. That mimics the way the cervix, the opening to the uterus, thins and shortens and then dilates in early labor.

Suddenly, before our very eyes, the baby—err, ping pong ball—is crowning! Just like in real labor, Chalmers says this is when women going through childbirth IRL start to get nervous. So she coaches her balloon-wielding students just like they were delivering: “It’s okay, just breathe, do it gently, you’re stretching beautifully, one more push and the baby will be here!”

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Out shoots the ping pong ball—safe to say no baby has ever been born at quite that velocity!—and “everybody laughs and has a blast with it,” Chalmers says in the video.

Her comforting tone and warm demeanor has clearly resonated. The Facebook post has over 2.5 million views and 25,000 shares. “This is brilliant!!!” wrote one commenter. “We loved this so much we did this activity with all our friends at our first baby shower!” another chimed in.

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The response has been more than Chalmers thought, considering she was just going to send this to her niece. She later edited her post to add the note: “Wow! This little video has gone much further than I ever expected.”

She even suggests walking through this process with big siblings-to-be if they’re curious about where babies come from. Brilliant indeed.