When Liz Chalmers, owner at the Puget Sound Birth Center in Kirkland, Washington, and Renton, Washington, shot her now-viral Facebook video of labor simulation, she only intended it to reach an audience of one. The video was a teaching exercise for her niece Charlotte, who is becoming a childbirth educator in New Zealand. But because the clip was clearly so helpful to so many parents-to-be, it's been viewed more than 2.4 million times since it was posted on October 26.
In the clip, Chalmers uses a balloon and a ping-pong ball to illustrate how contractions work to help your baby enter the world. She says the simulation was originally presented during a workshop called “Stomp Out Boring Childbirth.”
Chalmers has experienced a bevy of emotions since the clip has made its rounds online. "I'm sad about all the reactions from people saying, 'Wow, this would have been so useful to know before I had my children. I understand why things happened the way they did,'" she tells Parents.com. "I'm thrilled by the reactions from the pre-parent folks saying, 'This makes me feel so much better about giving birth!' Amused by the reactions from those who think I'm a midwife or doula -- I'm neither -- who are aghast that my nails might be involved in someone's labor! Loved getting responses from people I haven't heard from in many years."
But the "very best reaction," according to Chalmers? "One of the other owners of the Puget Sound Birth Center, who is a midwife, was in an appointment with a client who said to her, 'Hey, I saw this video by a British woman with a pink balloon and it really helped me understand Braxton Hicks contractions.'" How funny!
Chalmers is also heartened by the fact that conversation on the internet about the video "makes the world feel small and friendly, at a time when maybe we need that!"
Ultimately, she hopes that moms- and dads-to-be see the video and feel more empowered going into labor and delivery. "The main thing I'd like parents to get from the video is that birth is an inherently simple process that you don't need to fear," Chalmers says. "I would love for people who haven't even experienced a contraction yet to have some confidence that they can do this hard-but-powerful work."