This Viral Balloon 'Birth' Video Is the Most Accurate Portrayal of Labor Ever


Liz Chalmers/Facebook

Labor is a difficult thing to image until you've been through it. Sure, you can read a million books and take all the classes in the world. But it's hard to find anything that can accurately describe what labor is really like. That is, until now. Liz Chalmers, the owner of Seattle's Puget Sound Birth Center, put together a quickie labor tutorial using a balloon and a ping pong ball, and it's going viral because it's seriously the most accurate depiction of birth any of us has ever seen.

  • Chalmers recorded her genius birth reenactment for her niece Charlotte, who is studying to become a childbirth educator in New Zealand.

    In the video, she places a ping pong ball inside a slightly inflated pink balloon and squeezes it to perfectly simulate contractions and crowning. Chalmers notes she got the idea from a birth workshop called Stomp Out Boring Childbirth.

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  • First, Chalmers uses both hands to open the deflated balloon and drop the ball inside.

  • Next, she blows up the balloon slightly and lets the ball fall down to plug the hole.

    The ball, of course, is simulating the position of the baby's head as your body prepares for childbirth. The balloon is your uterus, and the end of the balloon represents the cervix. Do you see the genius unfolding here?

  • Chalmers gently squeezes the sides of the balloon to demonstrate a super common pregnancy phenomenon: Braxton-Hicks contractions.

    "If you just squeeze the sides of balloon like this, not much is happening here to the neck of the balloon, and it's not opening very much," she explains. "These are the Braxton-Hicks contractions that are just practice contractions that are more common towards the end of pregnancy, but they don't do all that much towards opening the cervix."

  • After the Braxton-Hicks demonstration, Chalmers moves her hands to the top of the balloon to simulate active labor.

    "Real contractions happen at the top of the uterus," she explains. "That's where the power of contractions happens. It's the muscle fibers on the top getting shorter and thicker, which squeeze the top and then pull up on the sides of the uterus."

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    She squeezes the top of the balloon over and over again to show how the ball drops lower and lower into the neck of the balloon as it stretches.

  • As she squeezes, you can see the "cervix" getting thinner and longer until finally ... POP!

    The ping pong ball "baby" shoots out and lets out a hearty first cry -- okay, fine, it doesn't. But in the name of labor simulations, we can pretend.

    Chalmers wrote on Facebook that she wasn't expecting her video to go viral, but boy, did it ever. It currently has over 2.3 million views! Obviously, watching a simple Facebook video can't completely prepare you for what birthing a human being will feel like. But knowing what's going on with your body helps you feel more calm, collected, and prepared while you're in the delivery room, and in a situation as intense as giving birth, understanding exactly what's happening to your body and knowing you can do it is half the battle.