• Follow us


Health and beauty tech continues to fail pregnant women

There's a thread on Fitbit's Feature Suggestion forum titled, "Add Pregnancy/Nursing mode for more accurate calorie estimates," with the first comment logged in December 2013. It was locked at 328 comments and 1,388 upvotes. In the comments, hundreds of women chimed in to agree and add their own requests, including tweaks to Fitbit's menstruation-tracking features, nursing settings, weight-gain monitoring and other pregnancy-specific notifications. A moderator lurked, editing labels and updating the status of the request.

At 4:41PM on May 6th, 2014, a moderator updated the pregnancy-feature thread to "New." By February 14th, 2015, the status had shifted to, "Not currently planned."

On May 9th, 2018, another user submitted a new topic for discussion, titled, "Add pregnancy for more accurate cycle prediction in Female Health Tracking." It's still active and its status is currently, "Reviewed by moderator." In the thread, community managers respond to some users, calling their suggestions for pregnancy features "interesting" and "useful." The most recent moderator response is from December 17th, and it reads, "Hopefully we will have support from other users since more votes and comments an idea has the more visibility and momentum it gains." The thread has 180 comments and 1,014 upvotes (and counting).

Fitbit forums

The tone of the thread shifts over eight pages of discussion, fading from friendly suggestions to frustration and anger as the issue persists and more women join the conversation. There are numerous similar threads on MyFitnessPal forums, also dating back to 2013.

Digital pregnancy-monitoring tools exist, though many are more interested in comparing the size of the fetus with cute animals than offering helpful medical advice. The most lauded option is the Withings Pregnancy Tracker in the Health Mate app, which ideally connects to a Nokia smart scale and can use imported data from MyFitnessPal. The Withings app proves the market -- it's entirely possible and legal to track a pregnant woman's health and offer suggestions using the same data collected by MyFitnessPal. Under Armour, MyFitnessPal's parent company, simply hasn't dedicated the resources to building out this feature, despite at least five years of customer prodding.

The same goes for Fitbit -- and nearly every health and beauty company at CES 2019.

L'Oreal My Skin Track pH

In the middle of a Las Vegas ballroom crowded with the newest tech toys, I asked spokespeople at five health and beauty companies whether their products would be safe or even function for a pregnant woman.

"This hasn't been tested specifically on pregnant women."

"This hasn't been tested specifically on pregnant women," a representative showing off Neutrogena's 3D-printed sheet masks said. It was a common refrain. Spokespeople and developers at L'Oreal (showing off an adhesive skin pH tracker), Withings (the Move ECG watch) and Matrix Industries (the PowerWatch 2) responded with surprise at the suggestion of testing their product on pregnant women. Jeff Ray, executive director of new technology at Omron Healthcare, was the only person to respond with authority, saying pregnant women can definitely use the company's latest blood-pressure-monitoring watch, though it hadn't been tested to catch preeclampsia, a dangerous blood-pressure issue with potentially lethal consequences for both pregnant women and their babies.

"Our main purpose was to get this one to market as fast as possible, then we'll go back and we'll start adding those back on," he said.

Sixty-two out of every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 became pregnant in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though many health and beauty tech products are designed specifically for women, and even though a significant portion of this market will become pregnant at some point, pregnancy settings are seen as a second- or third-tier feature for most of these companies.

MyFitnessPal forums

Meanwhile, pregnant women every day are opening up their health-tracking apps to find they're largely useless once the baby-growing process begins. That's what happened to Engadget contributing writer Swapna Krishna last year, and it recently happened to my friend, Oonagh McQuarrie. She's 27 and pregnant with her first child.

"Right after I got pregnant, I wanted to track what I was eating," she said. "I've been using MyFitnessPal for years to track food and use it for weight loss, and so it has all this data about me. I didn't want to lose all of that or have to re-input all this information about myself into a new app -- that's why you use the app, so that it learns all of these things about you. You can tell MyFitnessPal I'm doing a keto diet, I want to limit my carbs to X levels, you can tell it what kind of lifestyle you live, active or sedentary, and it'll set caloric recommendations for you. But it didn't have anything about pregnancy."

At first, McQuarrie assumed she was simply missing the pregnancy setting in the app's UI, but she quickly realized it didn't exist. It was the first of numerous pinpricks she would endure every day as a result of her pregnancy -- things she took for granted, like popping a zinc gummy when she caught a cold or melatonin when she needed to sleep, were suddenly wrapped in mystery. How would zinc interact with her changing body? Would melatonin affect the baby's development? She couldn't find satisfying answers and the apps she usually turned to for these types of questions didn't offer any help.

Hey tech developers: It'd be really nice if you put a "pregnancy mode" in your weight/training/workout etc. apps. I'm getting really tired of my smart scale and exercise apps yelling at me for weight gain/decreased activity.

— Swapna Krishna is on maternity leave (@skrishna) August 30, 2018

Pregnancy is an unrelenting, full-body experience. On top of worrying about blood pressure, fatigue, swelling, joint pain, nutrition and other common concerns, pregnancy can cause issues that the uninitiated wouldn't expect, such as gingivitis, nosebleeds and eczema. The entire process is filled with uncomfortable and life-threatening possibilities, and it can be especially terrifying for a first-time mom.

As someone firmly ensconced in the digital age, McQuarrie is used to relying on apps and other tech-driven solutions to assuage her fears. Now, when she needs that assurance more than ever, these tools have nothing to offer her. She's been logging her vitals and eating habits in a paper journal.

"When I wanted to lose weight, I did not do that in a food journal," McQuarrie said. "I downloaded an app that did it for me, just like everyone else, because it's the year of our lord 2019 and there should be an app for that."

@fitbit @FitbitSupport When are you going to add pregnancy to your app? Your users have been asking for months. Tracking cycles, but not pregnancy doesn't make sense and is biased against mothers. #fitbitdoesntdopregnancy

— Penelope Shu (@nellyrising) January 3, 2019

MyFitnessPal didn't respond to an interview request, while Fitbit offered the following statement in response to a few questions about its approach to pregnancy: "We are always listening to our Fitbit community and aim to update our features to address their needs, but don't have anything to share around Female Health Tracking at this time." A spokesperson noted that pregnant women can continue to use Fitbit while pregnant. Of course, its forums are pockmarked with stories about the app not tracking women's changes properly, both during and after pregnancy.

"It's the year of our lord 2019 and there should be an app for that."

While established brands drag their feet on pregnancy features, the market is getting some fresh attention from new companies. CES 2019 featured a range of products designed for expectant and new mothers, from hands-free pumping devices to a first-person baby camera. Evan Griffin is brand director for Owlet, the company behind the Owlet Band, a connected stomach wrap that monitors the fetus while mom sleeps.

"When you're providing products for baby or a pregnant mom, it's what people value most. It's the most treasured thing," Griffin said. "I think for most people it's just easier to avoid the work that goes into it. ... The beginnings of life are probably the most under-innovated space throughout all of technology. Everybody has accepted this poor-quality standard."

Dismissing pregnant women as a real and constant audience begins in the concept phase. The health, fitness and beauty products at CES aren't always ready to hit the market, but even when they do, they're unlikely to include options for expectant or new mothers. The overall response from leading companies and spokespeople on the CES show floor -- surprise, confusion and vague intrigue -- stems from a built-in blind spot.

Fitbit leadership

Ironically, the blind spot itself is often clearly visible. Of the 14 executives on Fitbit's Meet Our Team page, just two are women. As Engadget contributor Swapna Krishna said in her story about struggling to use mainstream fitness apps while pregnant, "a big part of the problem is a lack of women in tech (and women investors, as Wachter-Boettcher pointed out), [but] it's also a lack of women from different age ranges."

At 27, McQuarrie is expecting a healthy pregnancy, but she recently had to be tested for preeclampsia. It's a scary possibility -- she'd love to be able to track her progress with an app that knows her body and provides relevant information, just like the ones she uses when she's not pregnant.

"There are so many things about pregnancy -- these tiny fluctuations, you have to be on top of them because if you're not on top of them in the beginning when they're early signs, later when you go into labor they can be life-threatening," she said. "Having an app that isn't a pain in the ass to use, that I can track my bp in, that tells me what's normal ... that kind of stuff is what I want from an app, and there isn't anything that I've been able to find that does that."

Follow all the latest news from CES 2019 here!

In this article: baby, birth, CES2019, gadgetry, gadgets, home, medicine, mobile, personal computing, personalcomputing, pregnancy, services, sex, tomorrow, wearables, women By Jessica Conditt @JessConditt

Jessica earned her BA in journalism from ASU's Walter Cronkite School in 2011, and she's written for online outlets since 2008, with four years as senior reporter at Joystiq. She specializes in covering independent video games and esports, and she strives to tell human stories within the broader tech industry. Jessica is also a sci-fi novelist with a completed manuscript floating through the mysterious ether of potential publishers.

220 Shares Share Tweet Share Save Comments Sign In Read More

Leave A Comment

More News

Digital Trends

Here’s how and where you can watch the 2019-01-16 19:21:15Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requir

How to clear cookies 2019-01-16 18:43:00Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habi

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 2019-01-16 18:36:06This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a pleth

Android Q: Everything we know so far about 2019-01-16 18:25:13Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of r

Having trouble logging in? Here’s how to reset 2019-01-16 18:22:31To use any of Apple's services, you need to have an Apple ID and know your password. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with forgotten passwords and

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept 2019-01-16 17:54:44One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor 2019-01-16 17:42:44Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess

Huawei in for a rough year as feds 2019-01-16 17:40:04Huawei is also facing issues in the U.S., but it doesn't seem like that will end any time soon. According to a new report, the company is facing a fe

GoPro bumps resolution on Fusion 360 cam to 2019-01-16 17:09:30Currently available in public beta, Fusion firmware version 2.0 offers a new 5.8K mode that results in 5.6K output when the 360 camera's two hemisphe

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider 2019-01-16 17:09:00CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allo

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff 2019-01-16 16:45:48Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing wa

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the 2019-01-16 16:40:56Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate o

Engadget RSS Feed

John Deere wants to remind the world that New! 2019-01-17 14:00:00 John Deere has been to CES before. The company known for its dark green tractors with the yellow deer on them has rubbed shoulders with the smart

Google will buy Fossil smartwatch tech for $40 2019-01-17 13:37:00Google's commitment to improving its smartwatch platform is about to extend beyond overhauling its software. The internet giant has agreed to buy so

AMD is edging closer to breaking NVIDIA's graphic 2019-01-17 13:15:00After AMD released its seven-nanometer Radeon VII graphics card with impressive-looking performance, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang responded by essentially

AI is better at bluffing than professional gamblers 2019-01-17 12:45:00The act of gambling on games of chance has been around as long as the games themselves. For as long as there's been money to be made wagering on the

Microsoft might surprise us with HoloLens 2 next 2019-01-17 12:22:00Microsoft has hinted it could reveal the long-awaited HoloLens 2 next month. It sent out invites to a press event taking place on February 24th, which

Mattel's free 'Uno' mobile game is now available 2019-01-17 11:34:00While third-party Uno apps have been around for some time, Mattel released its own mobile version of the classic card game in certain countries and on

Shareholders ask Amazon to halt sales of facial 2019-01-17 11:04:00A group of Amazon shareholders has filed a resolution requesting the company stop selling its facial recognition technology to government agencies unt

Spotify's Car View helps cut the distractions for 2019-01-17 10:33:00Following Spotify's integration with Google Maps and Waze, the music streaming service is rolling out some in-car controls within its own app. 9to5Go

Researchers train robot dog to pick itself back 2019-01-17 10:02:00Researchers have taught a robot dog to overcome one of the toughest challenges for a four-legged droid: how to get back up after a fall. In a paper pu

Tim Cook calls for a regulatory body to 2019-01-17 09:31:00Apple chief Tim Cook has always been a vocal champion of privacy, even going so far as to publicly criticize other tech giants' data practices. Back

BMW launches a performance Series-7 PHEV 2019-01-17 09:02:00BMW has launched its 2020 7-series sedans, and controversy about the ginormous grill aside, they're some of the company's highest-tech models yet. T

Fitbit users can share data with the National 2019-01-17 08:15:00Fitbit is following a stellar 2018, which saw it bounce back to profit thanks in part to its Versa smartwatch, by diving even further into healthcare.


Is It Time for a Google Fitness Watch? New! 2019-01-17 17:58:42Fitness is what’s driving smartwatches.

2 Food Processors Tested: Breville, Cuisinart 2019-01-17 08:00:00Even if your knife skills are solid, a food processor is still faster and more convenient for bigger projects.

Best Skiing and Snowboarding Gear (2019): Jackets, Boots, 2019-01-16 10:00:00From custom skis to the ultimate in-bounds backpack, everything you need to make the most of powder days.

8 Best Travel Coffee Mugs (2019): Insulated, Steel, 2019-01-16 09:00:00From classics like Zojirushii, Yeti, and Stanley to new mugs from OtterBox and Snow Peak, I tried a ton of travel tumblers this winter. These are the

Nike's Self-Lacing Adapt BB Basketball Shoe Is Actually 2019-01-15 09:15:00The Adapt BB isn't just an impressive riff on a sci-fi dream—it's a lightweight, NBA-ready kick that's ushering in a new age of smart footwea

The Rise of the Swiss Army Gadget 2019-01-13 07:00:00From mirrors with speakers to picture-frame wireless chargers, we're deep into the age of multifunction devices.

9 Best CES 2019 Devices You Can Buy 2019-01-12 07:00:00Has CES whet your appetite for gadgets? From Withings watches to Xbox keyboards, here are our favorite weekend picks.

Gadget Lab Podcast: Robots, Smart Health, and Security 2019-01-12 02:41:00WIRED’s Gadget Lab team kicks off the new year with a wrap-up of the year’s biggest electronics show. Plus, an interview with Reddit&rsquo

CES 2019 Liveblog Day 4: Thursday’s News and 2019-01-10 20:05:00This year’s CES, one of the biggest consumer tech showcases in the world, continues Thursday. Join us for live updates from the show in Las Vega

Women's Sexuality Is Still Taboo for Tech—at Least 2019-01-10 17:30:19Sex robots and VR porn are fine, but a robotic vibrator that delivers a blended orgasm to women is immoral and profane? Oh, the hypocrisy.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Log Your Kid’s 2019-01-10 07:00:00Meet the quantified kid: More gadgets let you track data from before birth and into their teens. But it probably won’t make you a better parent.

The Best of CES 2019: Laptops, Smart Home, 2019-01-10 07:00:00WIRED's picks for the standout products from this year's CES consumer electronics fest.

Ars Technica » Gear

Leaked Android Q build shows off dark mode, New! 2019-01-17 17:12:40Early Android Q build shows off lots of permissions controls, plus a dark UI.

Google buys $40 million worth of smartwatch tech New! 2019-01-17 16:25:43Google gets IP and part of Fossil's R&D team to beef up its wearable efforts.

The Motorola Razr is coming back as a New! 2019-01-17 16:11:47It will also cost—brace yourself—$1,500.

Windows 10 October 2018 Update is at last 2019-01-17 13:38:57The update is still rolling out at a snail's pace.

How running websites has changed in the last 2019-01-17 12:00:51Ars' IT guru Jason Marlin has 20+ years in information infrastructure—game's changed a bit.

Next Windows 10 version will let you search 2019-01-16 18:28:33Cortana is seeing a productivity focus; search is being unified with Office 365.

Google Play starts manually whitelisting SMS and phone 2019-01-16 14:55:17To protect user privacy, Google starts policing apps using SMS and phone permissions.

YouTube updates policies to explicitly ban dangerous pranks, 2019-01-16 10:06:02Stunts like the inane "Bird Box challenge" are getting the ax.

Apple releases official battery cases for iPhone XS, 2019-01-15 20:25:41They closely resemble similar cases for prior iPhone models.

Intel reported to have a new 5GHz chip 2019-01-15 17:07:27The chip has to be bought by OEMs in an auction.

Microsoft’s fonts catch out another fraudster—this time in 2019-01-15 15:49:39Will these people never learn?

Millions of customers will now pay more for 2019-01-15 11:22:52To make more original shows and movies, Netflix needs more money.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Apple expands its reach with free Apple Music 2019-01-16 08:02:24Verizon Wireless is now offering free access to Apple Music. The music streaming service is available on select Verizon Wireless plans starting on Jan

Wrest control from a snooping smart speaker with 2019-01-16 06:06:06What do you get when you put one internet-connected device on top of another? A little more control than you otherwise would in the case of Alias the

CERN’s plan for 100-km collider makes the LHC 2019-01-15 19:53:38The Large Hadron Collider has produced a great deal of incredible science, most famously the Higgs Boson — but physicists at CERN, the internati

Amazon upgrades its Fire TV Stick with the 2019-01-15 11:11:36Amazon is giving its Fire TV Stick an upgrade. The company announced today it will now ship the Fire TV Stick with the new version of the Alexa Voice

The new TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Tourbillon Nanograph 2019-01-15 10:18:01Almost every word in the name of TAG Heuer’s new watch – the Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph – is important. Carrera

Rumor suggests Apple’s AirPower mat has finally gone 2019-01-14 10:43:28In 2017, Apple announced the Qi-compatible AirPower Mat, a device that would charge multiple devices at once simply by placing them on the mat. That p

This Brooklyn man makes massive robotic costumes out 2019-01-14 10:25:09One Man’s Trash from We Are Films on Vimeo. Peter Kokis makes robots. Or more correctly, he turns into robots. This Brooklyn artists takes parts

Schneider’s EVLink car charging stations were easily hackable, 2019-01-14 09:00:11Schneider has fixed three vulnerabilities in one of its popular electric car charging stations, which security researchers said could have easily allo

Samsung’s new Galaxy M smartphones will launch in 2019-01-14 00:16:16Samsung will launch its new lower-priced Galaxy M series in India before the smartphones roll out globally. Asim Warsi, senior vice president of Samsu

Amazon Dash buttons judged to breach consumer rules 2019-01-11 10:04:18Amazon’s Dash buttons have been found to breach consumer e-commerce rules in Germany. The push-to-order gizmos were debuted by Amazon in 20

Holoride’s in-car VR solution is the best thing 2019-01-10 13:10:45After days of demos and announcements and miles of walking, I’m confident in declaring Holoride the best thing at this year’s CES. The des

Daily Crunch: How the government shutdown is damaging 2019-01-10 12:10:24The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox ever

Geeky Gadgets

Save 92% on the Make: Arduino Hacker eBook 2019-01-17 10:56:20We have an awesome deal on the the Make: Arduino Hacker eBook Bundle in the Geeky Gadgets Deals store today. The Make: Arduino Hacker eBook Bundle is

Nixie Clock VIII kit from $55 2019-01-17 09:50:02Serial Kickstarter entrepreneur Howard Constantine has returned once again to Kickstarter to launches 19th campaign to date announcing the availabilit

Days Gone launches April 26th 2019 2019-01-17 09:41:28PlayStation gamers patiently waiting to enjoy the new Days Gone game will be pleased to know that the PlayStation exclusive will be officially launchi

Samsung Galaxy S8 gets the January security patch 2019-01-17 09:35:08Samsung has released a software update for the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone, the update comes with the latest security fixes from Google. Included in

Doogee S90 “unbreakable smartphone” 2019-01-17 09:28:45When a company advertises a piece of hardware as unbreakable, it provides a great introduction for YouTubers to test out those claims. One such smartp

Orb mini arcade machine $25 2019-01-17 09:16:18The Mini Arcade Machine by Orb is a tiny arcade cabinet offering 240 games to choose from in a small desktop form factor. Priced at £25 the de m

Samsung Galaxy A40 smartphone appears in benchmarks 2019-01-17 09:02:23A new Samsung smartphone has popped up on the Geekbench benchmarks, the Samsung Galaxy A40, the handset was listed with the model number SM-A405FN. Th

Wireframe games magazine issue 5 now available 2019-01-17 08:44:14The Raspberry Pi Foundation and publisher Pi Press has today made available the 5th Wireframe games magazine, providing more insight onto how games ar

Omnicharge Omni Mobile Series 2019-01-17 08:24:29Omnicharge has launched its fourth crowdfunding campaign this month making available its new Omni Mobile series of charges which are available in capa

Unlocked Nokia 8.1 lands in the UK 2019-01-17 08:19:52The unlocked Nokia 8.1 is now available in the UK through mobile retailer Clove, the handset is available to buy without a contract for £379.99.

2020 GT500 is a 700hp Beast 2019-01-17 08:15:17Ford unveiled the 2020 GT500 this week in Detroit, and it is everything that fans were waiting for. The car is hailed as the most powerful street-lega

KEEPER Stops your deliveries being stolen from your 2019-01-17 08:12:31KEEPER is a new DIY kit that allows you to build your very own home automatic recipient machine or ARM. Enabling you to receive deliveries from online

NDTV Gadgets - Latest

Mortal Kombat 11 Gameplay Reveal: How to Watch 2019-01-17 08:53:32Mortal Kombat 11 gameplay reveal live stream date, time, how to watch, and what to expect.

Boat Stone SpinX Bluetooth Speaker Review 2019-01-17 08:35:02On its own, it's just another affordable Bluetooth speaker but the Boat Stone SpinX comes into its own when you have two units. Read our review for m

iPad mini 5, New Affordable iPad Said to 2019-01-17 08:31:10Touch panel manufacturers in Taiwan are reportedly gearing up for the launch of the iPad mini 5 and the new affordable iPad model.

773 Million Unique Email IDs Leaked in Collection 2019-01-17 08:28:07Data breach reported by Troy Hunt has been titled "Collection #1", and is said to have email addresses and passwords totalling 2,692,818,238 rows.

Honor 8X, Honor 8 Lite, Honor Play Discounts 2019-01-17 08:23:59There would be a minimum discount of Rs. 3,100 that would go up to Rs. 9,800 inclusive of phone exchanges and instant discounts for HDFC Bank and SBI

Samsung's Foldable Smartphone Allegedly Certified, Tipping Imminent Launch 2019-01-17 08:13:26Samsung's upcoming foldable smartphone has been certified in China which suggests that it might be officially announced soon.

Sea of Thieves Download Size Will Go Down, 2019-01-17 08:09:06The Sea of Thieves download size for Xbox One, Xbox One X and Windows 10 PC will go down drastically on February 6.

Xiaomi's PUBG-Like Survival Game Now Available for Download 2019-01-17 08:02:56Xiaomi has released its battle royale genre Survival Game in the Mi Apps store. The company is taking cues from PUBG and Fortnite games.

Nintendo Switch Launch In China and Other Asian 2019-01-17 07:31:31If you were expecting a Nintendo Switch launch in Asian markets like China, think again.

Tinder Tests Sharing Spotify Clips With Matches 2019-01-17 07:30:39The feature is being tested in a number of markets around the world and Spotify appears to be the only streaming service involved in the test.

Komparify Acquires Ireff to Broaden Its Mobile App 2019-01-17 07:16:27Ireff is a Bengaluru-based startup that delivers fresh prepaid plan information with a clean user interface (UI) via its mobile app.

What WhatsApp Absolutely Needs to Do in 2019 2019-01-17 07:06:56WhatsApp needs several new features in 2019. Here's our wish list.

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.