“Oura was part of the journey the whole time…During my pregnancy, I wore it every single night. It was kind of like my prenatal vitamin, I took it pretty seriously.”
Kathleen is a first-time mother, burrito enthusiast and bookworm, who also works full time as Director of Program Management at Zenefits. Although she’s had her Oura Ring for over a year, Kathleen found that her relationship with her data changed when she began her journey from pregnancy to parenthood.
“I had an app folder where all of my baby apps went…The cool thing about Oura is I didn’t throw it in the baby folder because it was a broader health app for me that I started to tune into more carefully because the way that I needed to listen to my health was so different.”
Kathleen hopes that sharing her story will empower other women to find the right tools for listening to their bodies and encourage more individuals to share their pregnancy experiences to help one another.
“I was 34 and at 35 is this stressful threshold where the medical community starts calling your pregnancy ‘geriatric’ and it is a thing that hangs over your head when you’re a woman in her 30s. I decided to use Oura to monitor my pregnancy and combat some of that anxiety as I tracked my health, controlling and monitoring the things within my power to control. My body doesn’t need to be a black box.”
Uncertainty During Pregnancy
Kathleen openly shares how pregnancy journeys often lack answers.
“It’s so frustrating not being able to get clear scientific ‘answers’ on any of the fronts that you would normally expect. So many of the symptoms that come up while you’re pregnant, it feels like the doctors are relatively happy settling for saying ‘Well that doesn’t sound bad so you should be good to go!’…You get a lot of ‘I can’t really test to tell you if that’s wrong or not.’”
Pregnancy is also highly individual and differs from person to person or even one pregnancy to the next. “When you start talking to other women you find out that we all get random different things. Like someone will say ‘my feet are swollen’ or ‘I have shooting pain in one of my hips’ and you’re just waiting to find out what is going to happen in your body from one month to the next.”
Finding Her Own Answers
Kathleen’s solution was to find the right tools to help her listen to her body.
“I’m definitely an anxious-y person and I am a big believer in using tools. But there are so many devices that can add to your anxiety during pregnancy.” She lists multiple examples from at-home sonography machines to wearable devices for your baby. “They can give you all sorts of health information but they can also give you false alarms… so you kind of have to know yourself really well to know what the right amount of information or the right kinds of tools are for you.”
That’s where Kathleen was able to leverage Oura: “Anything I had that would tell me ‘everything is okay’ was so helpful. Oura helped me with that. Like is there any material change in my body from yesterday? New routines like taking my prenatal vitamins while consulting Oura every morning helped me to structure my reflection on eating, hydration, and sleep hygiene. I could evaluate my ‘intuition’ alongside some more concrete data – the best of both worlds for me.”
What Patterns Did She See?
“I started to turn to social media ‘due date groups’ that bring women together who have the same general due date and can lean on each other as they share the same stage of pregnancy. The basis for these communities is basically 2 things: preparing and planning together but also finding reassurance. For first time moms like me, it’s so comforting to have validation that what we were experiencing, which is quite out of the norm for a non-pregnant body, was “normal” during pregnancy.”
Here is what she found.
Changes Weren’t Always Dramatic
“I was really surprised that for me, most of the changes were pretty gradual…It wasn’t like there was a sudden AHA moment that you could point to – here is when I got pregnant, here’s when high impact exercise became unrealistic or here’s when sleep became impossibly uncomfortable.”
Below, Kathleen shares her increase in resting heart rate from conception (September) to delivery (June 11). Pregnancy puts extra demands on your heart and RHR can increase 10-20 beats per minute.
Knowing her long-term patterns helped Kathleen see this as a natural progression, rather than a cause for concern: “It can seem a little alarming if you’re spot-checking and googling heart rate ranges because of preeclampsia, but I knew my body and was able to track that this increase was unfolding over time and thus expected and normal for me.”
Temperature Provided Peace Of Mind
Hormones can drive temperature changes. Compared to their baseline, individuals may see lower temperatures around ovulation, a sharp elevation following conception, and sustained higher temperatures than a typical luteal phase across the first trimester.
Kathleen shares how Oura helped her spot her conception (left) and monitor her body throughout (right). “The big temperature dip on the left was right when we think I ovulated. After that, you could see my temperature data trending up in Oura for at least a week before I tested positive on the 26th!”
“During the actual pregnancy, I kept monitoring my temperature a lot to check for significant changes. As a first time ‘geriatric’ pregnancy, I was also watching for any signals that I should take it easy or be concerned about myself or the baby. It also helped for me to see how little my temperature varied specifically because I was paranoid I was getting sick when I experienced some regular pregnancy symptoms like exhaustion or a scratchy, sore throat.”
Most women will see temperatures drop a little across their second trimester, rise again in their third trimester, and then rise markedly at birth before dropping off again.
Sleep Quality Varied
“Everywhere they’re telling you what you can be doing to have a healthy pregnancy they are saying you should be sleeping more. On every list of tips it’s like you’re guaranteed to see ‘eat spinach’ and ‘sleep.’ So I used Oura to help me figure out how I was doing – how much sleep did I get? Was it quality or tons of light, tossing and turning? Should I try to take a nap today? Did something I ate too late or too fast give me heartburn and keep me up? How can I make tomorrow better?”
She shares (left) how increasing bathroom trips led to more time in bed to get the same levels of REM and deep sleep as before. “It was crazy for me how much more effort it took to accomplish the same things. I had to dedicate a lot more time to planning for sleep, tinkering with hydration and food and stretching/yoga/caring for my body.”
She also shares how rough it was to make the transition to becoming a new parent (right). “There was a period of time where I was so disheartened because I was getting absolutely no quality sleep – I was getting up to feed him for 45 mins every 1.5-2 hours. Then I got over 6 hours of sleep in 2 stretches around 8 weeks postpartum and I was celebrating like I won some type of lottery.”
Tips From Kathleen
Kathleen hopes that tools like Oura will continue to improve to help women understand their bodies and symptoms during pregnancy, but in the meantime, encourages women to share their experiences and advice to help one another:
“It’s funny because this is all advice that I need to give myself. These are things you have to keep telling yourself again and again!”
- Be forgiving: “The first piece of advice everyone gives you is ‘talk to yourself the way your best friend would talk to you.’ You have to change your internal monologue to be more forgiving and kind and generous. If you have a terrible night of sleep, eat poorly, or lose it one day emotionally, you need to forgive yourself and not dwell. Your best friend would brush it off.”
- Embrace the transition: “I tend to think of people who track this kind of data as people who like being in control and want to optimize things a certain way. But it’s good to realize that your data is changing because your life is changing and it isn’t easy! Your scores going down is an accurate reflection of your life’s trade-offs, and doesn’t mean forever.”
- Take advantage of help: “People offer to help and you need to say yes to every offer. Before, I had an identity as a very proud, independent person so I was reluctant to accept. It can feel like your life is a fixed-size pie you have to slice and distribute, so there isn’t enough time for you, your partner, and your baby. Accepting help expands that pie and buys you time to care for yourself and remember that you’re a person with needs too.”
- Share your experience: “If you haven’t joined a zoom-based support group for moms DO IT. That is one of the biggest things that I didn’t expect to like but I loved. It’s so helpful to watch other people cry and be upset too and say ‘my baby will not go down for a nap, it’s f**king frustrating!’ And you know that they are a CEO of a company or an attorney and master negotiator in another context, but in our homes we are all going through the same messy life stage and offering suggestions, figuring it out together.”
What’s Your Oura Story?
Everyone’s story is unique. Share yours with the Oura Community, or just give the Oura Team an update of where you are in your health journey!