Three months ago, my wife, Chrysta, and I were driving along Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles when she let out a harrowing cry.
I knew exactly what to do: I reached for my iPhone and pressed the bright green "Start" button on the screen and continued to drive as I waited for her to stop wailing.
The app I was using is called Full Term, which kept track of the length and intervals of her contractions. The app was, as my wife and I learned while rushing to the hospital for the birth of our first child, more useful than we could have ever imagined.
I should preface this by saying that before we downloaded the app (a last-minute recommendation from a friend when I texted: "OMG! We're in labor!"), I had scoffed at all these baby and pregnancy tools. After all, people have been having babies without apps since the dawn of humanity. Why do we need them now?
Turns out, I was wrong.
When my wife went into labor, for example, we could have tracked it the old-fashioned way: get a stopwatch, a pen and piece of paper, then jot down the duration of each contraction, and the time in between, and then somehow convey that information to our doctor while my wife endures the most intense pain of her life.
Or, we could open Full Term (a free app, though $1 donations are welcome) and press a green button to start, and a red one to stop. It gives you a detailed graph of the overall length and how far apart the labor pains are, which I could then text to our doctor. (We later discovered that we showed up at the hospital a tad early, by about 10 hours.)
In addition to the "go bag" that you pack for the hospital, you need a "go folder" of smartphone apps.
Pregnancy-related apps are not a niche category. According to a 2013 report by Citrix, a software company that tracks app usage, pregnancy-related apps were more popular than fitness apps. And at the Apple iTunes store, four of the top 10 paid medical apps are currently baby-related, including My Baby's Beat, Baby Connect and Baby Heartbeats.