Modern day women are ears deep in technology. Our phones have become a life source filled with friends and family, photos, and immediate access to information. It makes complete sense that a laboring woman might grab their phone and pull up an app to determine if “these contractions are the real thing”.
When I first began as a doula, I noticed many of my clients using these apps to determine duration and frequency. I received many of calls from clients stating their practitioners wanted them in as soon as possible only to find out they were experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions.
You see, these apps are incapable of determining the most important piece of the equation; intensity. Not even your OBGYN external uterine monitors have the capacity to determine the strength of contractions. So who does?
This is best left to the mom-to-be, but she is usually concerned with the 411 on the 5-1-1 rule her provider discussed, “You should call us when your contractions are approximately every 5 minutes, lasting about a minute, for at least an hour.”
As a doula, I have told clients to avoid these apps until it comes to a point they can no longer ignore the contractions and the new sensations have increased in intensity so that they stop what they are doing to focus through. The apps provide a no fuss, quick action check and record of contractions to provide to their birth team.
When contractions become longer, stronger, and closer together, and you have begun timing them because somehow your intuition had told you, “these are different” the contraction log is great information to share with your doula. As you talk about ways to become more comfortable, rest assured your doula is gauging the frequency, duration, and range of intensity by your conversation and may have an expert notion if you are experiencing Braxton Hicks, Early or Latent Labor or indeed have entered an active pattern of labor.
Apps are a great novice tool. But even great tools can mislead a user to trust text over their body. Intuition is the best tool a mother can use when judging contractions and timing of call to your on call provider.
And when in doubt, consult a doula!