By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
It is time for another post in the occasional series called “There’s an App for That!” This series allows me to share an app that helps us run our birth and postpartum businesses and make our lives easier. Today I tackle timing contractions on your phone using my favorite free contraction timer app. If you have a favorite app that makes your professional life easier, let me know by shooting me an email, and your suggestion may find its way to this series too, with a hat tip to you!
If you are an on-call doula waiting for a client in labor to call you, you already know that your phone is your number one accessory. It is pretty much your partner for life, going everywhere you go, always ready. I rely on many of the apps on my phone every single day to help me run my business, and I love learning about new and smart ways to make my life easier. Today, I want to share the contraction timer app “Full Term” with you. This free app is available in the iTunes App and Google Play store for easy downloading.
After attending some births, you may start to get a sense from observing the contraction pattern and by listening and watching your client, where your client might be in labor. But sometimes, it is also helpful to have a way to keep track of the contractions from time to time so you can stay updated and watch for change “on paper.”
Full Term is a free app that is simple and easy to use. I share this resource with clients who want an easy way to time contractions on their phone. While I do discuss that it is important to watch the laboring person rather than the app for the best assessment on how the labor is going, today’s parents often appreciate the assistance of this technology on their phones and find it helpful to time contractions occasionally.
I can use this app while on the phone with my clients or when I am by their side for in-person support. It even works on my Apple watch, where I can use it very discreetly. Full Term offers many additional uses such as a kick count timer, pregnancy weight tracker and additional references, which I truthfully haven’t explored because all I really use it for is timing contractions. I like this app because 1) my clients can share the contraction pattern with me through email whenever they want, 2) it is free and 3) very simple to use. There are some unobtrusive ads that can be removed for $0.99 USD if desired, but the ads don’t bother me, so I have not done that.
There are many ways to track how a labor is progressing, but for those doulas (or clients) who want a simple and easy way to document contractions, Full Term fits the bill without going overboard. Do you have a favorite contraction timer app? Please let us know in the comments section what you and your clients have found useful.
I LOVE Full Term App! I recommendcitvto all of my clients!
I just use contraction timer app.It’s simple to use and has no bells and whistles
My favorite way to use Contraction Timer is for distinguishing prelabor (defined as continuing non-progressing contractions) from Labor (defined as progressing contractions). I teach that prelabor contractions are accomplishing essential changes in the cervix — ripening, effacing, and moving forward — all essential steps in progress. The cervix can dilate significantly only if prelabor changes have taken place. Contraction Timer (and other similar apps) can give objective information to help parents decide if and when to seek care at hospital. birth center or from home birth midwife. Prelabor often takes a long time and parents often seek care too soon. (nurses sometimes use the pejorative term “frequent fliers” to describe those who come in too early or too often. Parents get upset or embarrassed or angry or anxious if they are told they are not in labor yet. The code, “5-1-1” or “4-1-1” is often used to guide the parents on when to get into professional care — 5 or 4 refers to contractions occurring every 5 or 4 minutes. lasting at least one minute each, for one hour. Using the app can help people know the appropriate time to get into care and when NOT TO do so. Of course, the doula can always be available to join the parents before 4-1-1, because the contractions can be confusing, discouraging or tiring before that. The doula can help the parents accept the “slow” pace of contractions with reassurance distracting activities, etc.
In fact, in my childbirth classes, I have everyone install Full Term and my assistant or one of the class members “becomes the uterus” and calls out “Contraction Begins” about every 4 or 5 minutes, and “Contraction ends” after 45-60 seconds. Class members keep track, while I’m holding forth discussing labor-related information. We stop that exercise after about 5 or 6 contractions and compare notes, and discuss the information and appropriate actions based on the information. I caution them about NOT using averages, which can be misleading. A consistent pattern is important.
Sorry this is so long.
full term is my go to! i like that it lets you add water broken and cx intensity!
I like Contraction Counter by Amila because it shows contractions as a bar graph. It helps me see patterns changing in a very visual way while I’m supporting mom. It also shows actual start and stop time…can be texted or emailed too…but I haven’t found another with the graph.
I always use Full Term and have my clients download it at our prenatal. So easy. Love it!
I like Full Term, too, though some clients have chosen other contraction timing apps and all have been ok. I typically recommend that they focus on not timing all the time when they are in labor…just tracking for 20-30 minutes until they get a sense of whether or not there is a pattern and what that looks like. Then doing that again if things pick up in speed or intensity so we can compare. Some have texted me screenshots from Full Term so I can review when managing remotely early on. It is so much easier for them to use, just tapping the big start and stop buttons and getting the durations and frequency all worked out for them.
I like the Doula Life app for keeping track of birth details easily when I’m with a family in labor!
Do you have a suggestion for an app that can silence all numbers except for specific ones? I don’t want to miss a call when my clients call in if my phone is on vibrate or silent otherwise.
I know on my iPhone, I can set certain numbers to ring through even though the phone is on vibrate or silent. Not sure about other phones.