By Charlotte Regen
This birthing instructor is here to show you can have a ball learning about labour.
Liz Chalmers shot a short video demonstrating the labour process for her niece, who is hoping to become a childbirth educator in New Zealand.
But since posting the video to Facebook, she has had over two million views as her lesson has proved popular all over the world.
She cleverly uses a balloon and ping pong ball to demonstrate how contractions work during pregnancy.
By squeezing the top of the balloon, she slowly forces the ping pong ball back down its neck, simulating how a baby moves down the cervix.
However, unlike in childbirth, the ball shoots out of the bottom of the balloon when it is ‘born’.
Liz, the co-owner of Puget Sound Midwives and Birth Center in Kirkland, Washington, learned the demonstration at a workshop and has since incorporated it into all of her classes.
She said: “I use a ping pong ball and balloon to demonstrate how the first stage of labour progresses.
“I used this exercise in birth classes for many years. When I heard that my niece was thinking of becoming a childbirth educator herself, I made this quick video to show her how to do it.
“I show how to get the ping pong ball into the balloon and how far to inflate it.
“Then I squeeze the balloon in the middle to simulate Braxton Hicks, or practice, contractions which don’t make much difference to the neck of the balloon or where the ping pong ball is.
“Then I show how, just like with real contractions, when the power of the contractions happens at the top, it lengthens the neck and eases the ball down.
“Only once the neck has shortened completely does it start opening much, just like in labour where we need the cervix to shorten before it can dilate.
“The last part of the exercise shows the ball shooting out of the balloon, more for entertainment than as any demonstration of the force with which babies emerge.
“When I watched it back I thought, ‘Oh, that came across really well,’ so instead of just sending it to my niece, I shared it on Facebook, hoping that others would be interested and reassured.
“It definitely helps people understand the labour process better. Explaining cervical shortening using words or pictures is nowhere near as effective as this exercise.
“It also helps people understand why patience in early labour is good. Let that cervix shorten before you expect rapid dilation to happen.
“There is one group who, it turns out, aren’t at all reassured, and that’s people who have a balloon phobia! I didn’t know that even existed until this video went viral.”