Over the course of pregnancy, a woman will go to the doctor around a dozen times. During the intervals of time in between, she has to monitor the pregnancy herself. Aside from eating healthy and remembering appointments, there’s kick counting and considering healthy weight gain.
Bellabeat is a new device-and-app combo that streamlines all the homework done by mothers-to-be, and ultimately becomes a sort of digital pregnancy diary. “We’re seeing a drastic change in the needs and wants of moms, during the time when the quantified-self movement is really popular,” says Bellabeat’s creator, Urska Srsen, who graduated from Y Combinator’s startup accelerator.
One of those new needs is reliable information, and more of it. One study Srsen looked at found that 16% of first-time mothers rated the Internet as their most important source for pregnancy-related information. “But the problem with the information online is that it may not refer to their individual pregnancy situation or they don’t know how to interpret the data they’re getting,” Srsen tells Co.Design.
The point of Bellabeat is never to make a diagnosis, or to reduce or alter the professional medical care a woman receives while pregnant. Rather, it’s to make more of that information accessible. The hardware component uses the same basic tech used during prenatal doctor visits to detect and record the baby’s heartbeat (which can then be shared socially, or saved like an audio scrapbook). To prep women for doctor visits throughout stages of pregnancy, or let them know about the baby’s development, Srsen has collated data and notes from OB/GYNs on her team as well as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, to name a couple.
It would be easy to lump Bellabeat in with the other bajillion pregnancy apps that have popped up in the past few years, but the novelty here is that Bellabeat doesn’t just spout standardized information to a passive receiver. Instead, it’s a graphic storehouse of data that can inform future questions or behavior like what to eat or what forms of exercise to do. In the same vein, it would also be simple to toss Bellabeat in with other fitness trackers or quantified-self devices, but in practice, the device doesn’t really behave like a FuelBand or a Fitbit; there’s little that’s automated. The Bellabeat kick counter, for instance, requires a manual touch of a button for each kick. The real difference is the shift from, say, pieces of paper floating around with tallies on them, to a graphic and easy-to-read chart that’s stored alongside other information, like a calendar for upcoming doctor visits, that can enhance question-and-answer sessions with the doctor.
All in all, Bellabeat wants to make the pregnancy experience more connected–and not just in a wired way. It can also make those months more poignant for women and their partners. “This is just a consumer product,” Srsen says. “But it’s really about bonding and feeling the baby’s presence.”
The Bellabeat system costs $129 and is available here.