What to Expect: The app that can be your 'village'

It was official — I was pregnant. I'd suspected I could be, taken a home test and gotten confirmation from my doctor's office. What happened next?

One of the first things I did after getting the results from my blood test was to go to Target and pick up a copy of the book every expectant mother should read. Of course I'm talking about What to Expect When You're Expecting. It's the book I remember my sister reading when she was pregnant with my oldest nephew, so I knew I wanted to get a copy for myself. 

They've made revisions and improvements to the book since the edition she read more than 10 years earlier. I remember her copy had a cover image of a pregnant woman sitting in a rocking chair. The copy I bought was the 4th edition, and the mom on the cover was standing up, wearing jeans and looked much more stylish than the previous cover.

I began reading the book, taking down notes of things I wanted to talk to my doctor about and trying to prepare myself for the nine months I had ahead of me before my daughter would be born. While reading the book, I found out that What to Expect also had an extensive website full of helpful information, and they also had an app! 

I downloaded the app, signed up to join the What to Expect community, and started using the app to track my pregnancy. As a member of the community I started receiving emails from What to Expect with links to articles relating to where I was in my pregnancy. You can also get daily digest emails showing recent posts from other expectant moms from your groups. I was in the January 2013 Babies group and I still read the daily digest emails to see what other moms are dealing with.

One of the things I really loved about using the What to Expect app was that when you first open it, the home screen has an update on your pregnancy progress. It was fun to see what fruit or vegetable my baby's size was comparable to, how far along (and what trimester) I was, as well as a countdown until my due date. I took screenshots of my progress a few different times so I could send them to my mom and my sister — I can remember when my baby was as big as a pineapple!

Another thing I loved about the What to Expect app was that each day I could read a couple paragraphs relating to my baby's development. There were also longer articles broken down by week. The articles usually corresponded with the related chapter in the What to Expect When You're Expecting book. I found this helpful because sometimes I wouldn't feel like reading a whole chapter in my book, but I could get a shortened update from the app. 

They've made a lot of improvements to the app since I used it for my pregnancy. The home screen still has the basic progress information including how far along you are, what size your baby is, and how many weeks/days you have left until your due date. It also has a Daily Tip (I think these are helpful and short), links to articles (both mobile and online), community forum conversations and deals on products.

You can upload pregnancy photos to the app to track the progression as your baby bump grows. It's simple to use, and you can easily add in photos from previous weeks. I thought it was fun to be able to look back through my pregnancy photos and see how much I'd changed. My daughter was born eight days late, so the photos taken at 40 weeks were pretty crazy — it's no wonder I didn't want to walk farther than a block to go get lunch during the work day — that was a lot of weight to carry around!

The What to Expect app continues to be helpful even after the birth of your baby. The Daily Tips continue through day 364 of your baby's life in the world, and the articles about each month of your child's life continue up through 35 months old.

I'm still able to use the app to check on toddler developmental progress and learn about things my daughter is starting to deal with such as toddler fears and phobias.

The app makes it really easy to find articles relating to your baby and see what other new or expectant moms are talking about on the community forums. You can post your own questions to the forum, or add comments to other members' posts. I found many of the posts to be very helpful, especially when other moms were talking about their little ones having a hard time with teething. 

You can start a discussion about any topic you'd like and other members of your group can comment on it to offer advice. I saw a post asking about how to let your childcare provider know if you're uncomfortable with the amount of affection they offer your new baby (kisses in particular).

It was interesting to read the wide range of replies from other moms. There were replies from moms who've worked in the childcare field, stay-at-home moms and other working moms. Some of the moms felt the same way as the poster, and others said they were grateful to have found childcare providers with teachers who loved their babies enough to give them hugs and a small kiss on the cheek.

The only drawback I found with the app is the advertisements on the bottom of some of the pages, but I realize this is a free app so it's understandable to have the advertisements in it. It might be nice if What to Expect offered a paid version of the app that would be ad-free similar to the paid versions of Words with Friends or Hanging With Friends (love that one!).

If you or someone you know is expecting a baby, I highly recommend the What to Expect app and the What to Expect community. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and with the multitude of articles, tips and community forums available in the What to Expect app, this village is at your fingertips 24 hours a day! For links to find more information about the apps available from What to Expect, please see the Resources bar on the right side of the page. 

This blog is truthful and based on personal experience with the products or items mentioned. It doesn't have sponsors, and no one paid to receive positive reviews of their products. All of the links provided are for your convenience and are not "affiliate links" — Valerie doesn't receive payment or kickbacks if people purchase products based on her recommendations.

Valerie Moe is the Senior Graphic Designer for Minnesota Parent magazine. She lives in Bloomington with her husband and their 21-month-old daughter. You can comment below or contact her directly here.