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    High-Tech Pregnancy

    pregnant woman on phone

    These days, from smartphone apps to wearable devices, expectant parents have an increasing number of high-tech options to track their baby’s development.

    There are several free apps that guide parents through the various stages of pregnancy (Editor’s note: WebMD has its own pregnancy app, WebMD Pregnancy). My Pregnancy Today (free, iOS and Android) tops Tom’s Guides’ recent list of best pregnancy apps. It offers organizers and checklists, health info, healthy recipes and advice on foods to avoid, among many other features. It also boasts an active social scene where you can connect with women at the same stage of pregnancy.

    I’m Expecting (free, iOS and Android) gives expectant moms info on baby growth and changes to your body, video guides to pregnancy, and a community where you can share your experiences. As Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience writes in her roundup of “Best Pregnancy Apps,” it “is possibly the most adorable baby app…It sounds like a small thing, but amid the aches, pains and worry that can come with pregnancy, the photos are quite a lovely reminder of the upsides of pregnancy and having a newborn.”

    For parents who want to track along a little closer, Ritmo Beats, due at the end of the year and likely to be priced at $ 250, promises parents the ability to listen in on their developing son or daughter whenever they get the urge. Strap the harness around your baby bump, and the 13 embedded sensors will pick up heartbeats as well as kicks and contractions. The device transmits data wirelessly so that you can follow and share your baby’s every move via your smart phone.

    “The next generation could start lifelogging even before they are born,” writes New Scientist’s Catherine de Lange, who is concerned that “round-the-clock monitoring could cause anxiety for some women.”

    Nuvo Group, the device’s Israel-based maker, also plans a medical-grade version – called PregSense – for doctors to monitor patients.

    The same company also makes the $ 139 Pregnancy Audio Belt. Doubling as a support belt, the device straps 4 attached speakers onto your belly and pipes music from your smart phone, iPod, or mp3 player into your womb.

    Bellybuds Baby-Bump Sound System ($ 29.95-$ 49.95) is another musical option. Two speakers, which look like giant earbuds, stick to your belly with a gentle adhesive. In addition to playing tunes, you can also record messages and play them for your developing baby.

    After 9 months of monitoring, the big day arrives. Don’t worry. There are apps for that. Contraction Timer (Android), Contraction Monitor (iOS), and similar contraction tracking apps calculate time between contractions as well as averages. A quick tap on your phone’s touch screen starts and stops the timer. These apps may only be useful for a short while, but when contractions start, it won’t hurt to have a device at hand to help you track and log the process. At the very least, it will give your device-loving partner something to focus on.

    Speaking of your partner, there are a few dad-focused apps available as well, like Who’s Your Daddy ($ 2.99, iOS). John Corpuz at Tom’s Guide writes, “Who’s Your Daddy comes with many of the same tools in popular pregnancy trackers…[and] offers some lighthearted humor written by men for men (with the aid of qualified midwives).” Use it for pregnancy checklists and timeline, daily tips, weekly updates, and a baby name generator.

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