From getting pregnant to timing contractions during labor, there's an app for nearly every part of your pregnancy. There are even apps that can help you name your baby and take the perfect selfie of your growing bump.
"Overall, the explosion in pregnancy-related apps is great," says Alyssa Dweck, MD, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "They can empower women to take charge of their health, provide education, give you information about your own body, feel more connected to your baby, and offer reassurance during pregnancy."
These technologies can help you through the process. At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that apps are no replacement for your doctor's advice. If you want to know whether the app's worth it before you try, check with your doctor.
Track Your Cycles
The first step on the path to becoming a parent is, of course, getting pregnant. Fertility tracker apps prompt you to record important information about your menstrual cycle, like changes in your cervical mucus and basal body temperature. That way, you can track ovulation and figure out the days that you're most likely to get pregnant.
For instance, your cervical mucus becomes clear and slippery just before one of your ovaries releases an egg, called ovulation.
Your basal body temperature can also help figure out when you have the best chances of getting pregnant. It's the temperature reading you get when you first wake up in the morning. It rises slightly after ovulation.
Find Out When You’re Due
Congratulations! After seeing that positive sign on that pregnancy test, you're going to want to know when you'll get to hold your baby in your arms. Enter the first day of your last period into an estimated due date app, and it calculates when you can expect your bundle of joy. Some apps can also tell you when you likely conceived, how long you've been pregnant, and when you'll reach the end of your current trimester.
How Big Is the Baby?
Long before your belly expands or you feel that first flutter, your baby is busy growing and moving. Apps can help you track her development day by day. Some even create 3-D images so you can get a better idea of what your little one is up to.
"This information can also help you start to connect and bond with your baby," Dweck says.
Apps to Help You Get Fit
As long as you get your doctor's OK, there are benefits to staying active throughout your pregnancy, such as:
- Fewer backaches
- Lower risk of gestational diabetes
- Better mood
- Improved sleep
- Easier time getting back in shape after your baby is born.
If you aren't sure which exercises are safe and will feel best when you're pregnant, you can download prenatal fitness apps or follow online fitness programs for guided workouts. Many offer specific workouts and stretches for your current trimester, so the exercises change as your pregnancy progresses.
To be extra safe, ask your doctor to vet the app and make sure the exercises are safe and the docs on the app are legit. And never do any exercise that hurts.
Apps for Dads
While they can't feel every sweet kick, dads want to connect with the baby and support their partner, too. Special apps for fathers have a countdown to your baby's due date, daily tips, a hospital bag checklist, contraction timer, to-do list, and more.
Check Which Meds Are Safe
Got a headache? Heartburn? Scan the barcode of prescription or over-the-counter medications into an app to easily find out whether it's safe to take when you're expecting. Once your baby is born, you can also check what's OK if you're breastfeeding.
Time Your Contractions
It's go time! Or is it? These apps let you time how long each contraction lasts, how many you have per hour, and more.
You could easily use paper, pen, and a stopwatch, but an app stores all of this information in one place where you can easily access it when your doctor asks for it, says Nathaniel DeNicola, MD, digital and social media consultant with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Give These a Pass
At times, pregnancy can be nerve-wracking. An app that lets you listen to your baby's heartbeat may be tempting to try. It's best to resist, DeNicola says. Even trained doctors can have a hard time finding a baby's heartbeat, especially early on in a pregnancy, he says. So it can cause a lot of unnecessary worry if you try it at home.
Another technology to avoid: Nonmedical ultrasounds. The ACOG recommends against these "just for fun" procedures that give you a look at your baby or tell you the gender. They can give you a false sense of security. Or if the scan shows there's something wrong with your baby, you may not get important information or care that you'd get in a doctor's office.