To be completely honest, when I first heard about the Bloomlife contraction monitor my initial reaction was that it was a tad over the top. Parents have used a pen, a notepad and a clock for years, so why rock the boat? But when I told my husband about this new gadget, he had a completely different perspective. He thought it was a fantastic invention—and not just because he loves technology. As he went on to explain to me, I would be able to feel contractions … their rise and fall, their frequency. But he was completely reliant on me verbalizing what I was feeling. When labor hit, he wouldn’t be able to sense that build up, that excitement, that rush. But being able to see contractions charted out on an app would allow him to be more a part of labor, especially the early stage when I might not need him to hold a leg just yet. Hearing his reasoning (and how could I argue with him wanting to be able to experience more of the excitement of his son’s arrival), my thinking completely shifted and I was game to try it out.
To use Bloomlife, you can rent it for the final weeks of your pregnancy. Simply choose a start date—right away or go ahead and reserve one for later. There is a $57 setup fee and a weekly fee of $24, which starts when your package has arrived. After you little one makes her debut you pack it back up in the same box, and send it one its way. You don’t even have to pay for shipping.
The Bloomlife monitor arrived in a small box that included the wearable sensor, adhesive patches that the sensor clips onto, a charging cord and instruction on how it all works with the companion app. Setup was easy, and after we charged the sensor I was ready to try it out. Now, I was in my third trimester, but I’d had nary a Braxton Hick contraction, so I was not surprised when it didn’t pick up much. But I wanted to get a sense for how to use it all before labor started because I would not be very interested in learning something new while grappling with real-deal contractions.
To use the sensor just snap it onto one of the adhesive patches, and stick the patch to your belly about two inches below your belly button. After it is in place the app and device will need a minute to sync together and start working. Once you’re good to go you’ll be able to see on your smartphone when a contraction hits, though you’ll probably feel it, too. The height of the wave illustrates intensity, and how quickly it rises and falls is the duration, which is noted once a contraction passes.
When you’re done, you can peel off the patch (no, it doesn’t hurt at all; the adhesive has kind of a gel consistency to it that makes it easy to remove) and stick it back onto the plastic sheet it came with. If you leave the device connected, you can reuse the same patch. If you remove the device (which you have to do eventually to charge it), you’ll need to use a new pad next time. I was worried I was going to run through all of the patches before baby arrived, but reusing them a few times worked great for me! I never ended up needing any more than what the package originally came with.
As I neared week 38, I started to check in with my tracker a few times a week. Sometimes it would pick up activity that I didn’t even feel, which was exciting. If it is a contraction it will be highlighted in a bright teal color after it’s over. So, I would watch the line climb up higher and higher and hope to see the peak turn teal. It was actually a fun thing for my husband and I to do in the evenings.
There were times that my app had trouble staying connected to the device, so I’d have some small gaps during a tracking session (which last maybe 10 minutes). But it would usually pick back up after a few seconds. I found that I needed to remain pretty still in order to maintain the best connection, so I’d sit on my couch. Even bouncing or swaying on my birthing ball would sometimes disrupt the signal. For that reason, I’d say the Bloomlife tracker is best used in early labor, like to know when you hit 5-1-1 to go to the hospital. Because once you are in active labor, you may want to move more to cope with the pain—and the hospital will want to monitor contractions their way, anyway.
Full disclosure: I never actually went into labor on my own. I was induced two weeks past my due date, so I didn’t get to put the Bloomlife tracker to use in that way. But I did get plenty of use out of it because in the final three weeks of my pregnancy I experienced recurring bouts of prodromal labor, usually in the evenings. I would have contractions that grew in intensity, occurred more frequently and lasted longer, just as you would in real labor. However, mine would suddenly ease up after a few hours. These were strong enough at times that I’d have to stop walking and talking and doing pretty much anything else except breathing and focusing on the tightening in my midsection until it was over.
So, I do feel confident in saying that despite the occasional issues with connectivity, I used (and enjoyed using) this wearable device a lot more than I thought I would. And it was way easier to be able to just focus on getting through contractions instead of having to call out to my husband when one was starting and ending, so he could keep tabs on things with pen and paper or some other app. We didn’t even have to think about tracking them. It just did it for us. And then we had a record that we could look back at to show my OB or my doula when discussing prodromal labor and what our plan of action would be from there.
All in all, I think the Bloomlife tracker can be a helpful addition to your labor team. I love that my husband could see (and get wide-eyed) when a big contraction hit. It made him feel more included in the experience. I also appreciated not having to keep my own timetable of contractions and just letting the app do its thing. My initial hesitancy about the device was that it would be information overload—that it would give me too much data and I would feel overwhelmed. But in reality, it told me exactly what I needed to know, and after going through prodromal labor day after day, it was valuable to have that record, so I could look back and see patterns or notice any changes.
With Bloomlife you won’t have to sit there and wonder, Was that a contraction? You finally have something that can verify what you’re feeling, so you can confidently know when you are in labor.
Price: from $81
To rent: bloomlife.com