Scientists at the University of Texas analysed amniotic fluid  which surrounds the baby in the womb  from 50 women in labour and 51 women at the end of their pregnancy but not yet in labour.

Washington - After learning I'd be having my first child in November, I scrolled through dozens of diverse offerings to find a few that appealed to my dominant emotion, which was: “I'm pregnant. Now what?” Options beyond the trio discussed here include pregnancy overviews (What to Expect: Pregnancy & Baby), father-focused resources (Who's Your Daddy?) and downright specific tools (50 000 Baby Names).

Happy browsing!


Sprout Pregnancy

While this app has earned kudos from the likes of Time and, what makes me fire it up each Monday are its warmly illustrated baby benchmarks. Every week, a virtual depiction shows how my baby is developing. Touching hot spots near the image of the baby reveals time-related factoids (Week 21: “She now often hiccups as a means to practice breathing . . .”).


Other perks include “The Doc Says,” a daily feature with health tidbits relating to a pregnancy's progression. Yet it's the “My Pregnancy” tab that's increasingly getting more of my taps. An organiser category suggests “newborn essentials” for baby registry brainstorming, as well as items to pack in my hospital bag. Other tools include a contraction timer that will keep tabs on, well, contractions, when that time finally arrives. Bottom line: Fun, approachable resource that doesn't overwhelm an expectant first-timer.

Free 14-day trial, then $3.99 (about R40). iOS and Android.

Apple, 4.5 stars (5,768 ratings); Google Play, 4 stars (8,354 ratings ).


Mindfulness for Pregnancy

Since mindfulness is the state of being in the present moment, I hoped this app would be a calming companion on my first pregnancy roller coaster.

Its guided meditations quickly became go-tos when I needed a brief respite from daily demands. (Emphasis on “brief,” as practices run four to 11 minutes.) What makes these sessions amusingly atypical, though, are the narrator's suggestions to notice my baby's sporadic movements when they occur, before returning my focus to other body sensations.

Other app attributes include “mindful notices,” set notifications that prompt pondering queries (“Am I fully here?”).

For those who want lengthier contemplation, there's a silent meditation with bells (three to 30 minutes) and personalised silent sessions (up to an hour) where users can set their own chime intervals.

Speaking of chimes ... if you own a dog that barks when the doorbell rings, use this while Fido is out of earshot. Bottom line: Nice to have when needed. $2.99. iOS. Apple, 4.5 stars (19 ratings).


My Baby's Beat

Does an app that lets me hear my baby's heartbeat sound too good to be true?

It is.

Only after downloading (and paying) for the app does it mention that it works best with pregnancies at 30 weeks and over. On reaching this benchmark two months later, I was ready to be wowed. I followed the instructions - taking my iPhone from its case, turning on airplane mode, pressing my phone's microphone on my bare belly in a quiet room - and was underwhelmed.

On pressing play to begin listening, I often heard irregular, crackly static that never matched the quality of provided sound samples. Maybe it was my baby's heartbeat; maybe it was lunch.

Moving the phone to different spots (giving each location at least five seconds to stabilise) led to more failures. I tried different days, different times. Nada. In the end, I felt duped. Bottom line: Not worth a fiver. $4.99. iOS and Android. Apple, 3 stars (1,271 ratings); Google Play, 1.9 stars (12 ratings).

The Washington Post