Imagine getting a new device and it starts malfunctioning. It's disappointing, so before calling customer service or trying to return the thing, you go online to see if anyone else has experienced the problem and if there's a solution. One man did exactly that when his wife's Fitbit readings seemed to be off, and he got more news than he anticipated- his wife was actually pregnant.
The husband posted a question about his wife's device to a Fitbit Reddit forum, saying his wife's heart rate was registering for 10 hours in the fat burning zone, which was not possible based on her activity level. She hadn't seen an increase in calories burned, so the husband, who goes by the user name YoungPTone, thought maybe something was wrong with the sensor.
One user going by the name Thatwasunpleasant asked if it was possible that the wife was pregnant, as pregancy can raise a woman's heart rate. Turns out the couple had been trying to conceive for a few months, so the woman took a pregnancy test, and low and behold, she was pregnant. YoungPTone posted an edit to his original Reddit post, sharing the good news, and to say that this wasn't a marketing stunt being pulled by Fitbit.
So how did this happen and could anyone who is trying to get pregnant use their fitness tracker to detect early signs of pregnancy? According the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center website, a quicker heart rate is a possible sign of pregnancy, as your heart has to work harder to increase blood volume to support the woman and the fetus. Your heart rate could go up 10-15 beats per minute, or more.
But Buzzfeed News talked to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin of Yale-New Haven Hospital, who said that while it's true heart rates can jump significantly during pregnancy, a large jump usually doesn't occur until much later. Minkin thinks what the woman saw was actually an effect of another early pregnancy symptom: increased body temperature. When your temperature rises, it can also slightly elevate your heart rate. Most people don't take their temperature frequently, so that would be why the woman only saw an increase in heart rate.
What does that mean for everyone else? Fitness trackers are great for monitoring overall fitness, but don't rely on one to show early signs of pregnancy. Every woman is different, and experiences different early signs, or no signs at all. Plus, Fitbit is actually facing a lawsuit from a number of users who say the tracking devices have accuracy problems when it comes to monitoring heart rates.
The couple is due in October 2016, and will certainly have an interesting story to tell their new baby!