There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re pregnant. Apps can help. You can note your baby’s kick counts, connect with others who are expecting, or store your belly selfies. Some apps give you daily or weekly updates on how you and your baby are changing. And when you go into labor, don’t forget to use the contraction timer.
If you want to know which apps to try, ask your health care provider. In fact, your hospital or doctor’s office may use their own or partner with an app. Mhealth, or mobile health, can help you through your pregnancy. But keep in mind that your smartphone can’t replace your doctor.
Read on to find out how apps may help before and during your pregnancy.
Track Your Cycle
It’s easier to get pregnant if you know when you ovulate. That’s when your ovary releases an egg. Fertility apps can give you an idea when this might happen. But you should choose one that uses more than just your menstrual cycle length as a gauge.
Some apps ask about changes in your cervical mucus. That’s discharge that gets watery after you ovulate. It may look like raw egg whites. You may also want to chart your basal body temperature. You’d take this first thing in the morning. It’s usually a little higher right after you ovulate.
Find Out Your Due Date
You’ll need to know the first day of your last period. Estimated due date apps -- and your doctor -- use this date to gauge when you might deliver. But to get a better estimate and to know for sure, you’ll need an ultrasound. That’s a machine that uses sound waves to take a picture of your baby.
Count Your Baby’s Kicks
You may feel your baby move around 20 weeks into your pregnancy. By 28 weeks, this pattern should become more regular. Apps can help you track your baby’s activity. Your doctor may call it fetal movement counting or fetal kick counts.
Monitor Health Conditions
Some medical issues can raise your chances of going into labor early. That includes preeclampsia, or newly diagnosed high blood pressure during pregnancy. Some apps let doctors keep an eye on your levels virtually. That’s called telehealth. Research shows this kind of tracking at a distance can give you good care with fewer trips to the doctor.
Here’s how it works: Your doctor gives you an FDA-approved device to check your blood pressure at home. This connects to an app on your phone. The data goes straight to your health care provider. If your reading is abnormal, you’ll get a text alert to check for certain symptoms. If you have them, you can head to the hospital for more tests.
Follow Your Baby’s Growth
Apps can’t see inside your body. But they can give you an idea about how your baby is changing. Some show your little one’s development as an interactive 3D model. If your app has a photos section, you can store images you take of your ultrasounds. These can be good to have on hand if you have to change doctors.
Keep Up With Doctor Visits
It can be hard to remember all your prenatal tests. Many pregnancy apps give you a place to store your past and future appointments. You can also log your symptoms.
Your hospital or doctor’s office may use an app to send health reminders, including when you need to:
- Screen for diabetes
- Get a flu shot or other vaccines
Check if Meds Are Safe
You should ask your health care provider before you take any drugs while you’re pregnant. That includes dietary supplements. But some apps can give you an idea what to watch out for. Just search or scan the barcode of the medicine you want to learn about. If the app flags them as unsafe, bring it up with your doctor.
Prenatal workout apps help you stay active at each stage of your pregnancy. You can work up a sweat at home or at the gym. But you should always check with your doctor about what activity is safe for your pregnancy. They may want you to skip your boxing class. But it may be OK to swim, run, or lift weights.
Regular exercise may help:
- Manage your weight
- Lift your mood
- Lower the chances of gestational diabetes
- Ease back pain and constipation
- Keep you fit after pregnancy
Time Your Contractions
Apps make it easy to track your first signs of labor. With a built-in contraction timer, you just press a button to record the length of each one and how many you have per hour. This takes the guesswork out of how far along you are. You can give this info to your doctor when you get to the hospital.
Apps for Others
Depending on which app you use, you may be able to add people to your account. They’ll get all of your health updates and see your daily entries. But certain apps are designed specifically for those who aren’t pregnant.
Your friend or partner who’s not carrying a baby can also download the same app you use. They can create a different account but with your due date. The app will give them pregnancy updates by month and let them count down along with you.
What Apps Can’t Give You
The exact day you ovulate. An app can only guess when you’re fertile. That’s because your menstrual cycle isn’t always the same number of days. That means your ovulation day may change each month. Your doctor may want you to use an ovulation kit. Those are tests that find an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH). You’ll have an LH surge right before you ovulate.
A reliable heartbeat. It’s normal to want to listen in on your little one. It can be comforting to hear their heart pumping. But apps aren’t a good way to do this. You should trust only a trained professional to check your baby’s heartbeat.