My Whoop Told Me I Was Pregnant
Well, it clued me in, that is. What’s a Whoop anyway? This wrist strap is often mistaken for a watch, but it’s really a data collecting device that is constantly monitoring my heart rate, HRV (heart rate variability), sleep, blood oxygen levels and temperature. With this data, there’s a daily algorithm with a recovery score assigned based on body’s data and how it compares on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
My Whoop sat in its box on my countertop for months because in my mind it was “just another device” that I had to take time to set up and learn to operate. I underestimated how much I’d become attached to seeing my own data each day and how much insight it could bring to my overall wellness and training strategies. I wish I would’ve had it during my first pregnancy.
Through seeing my own daily data for the last year, I have developed a good sense of my normal numbers. My resting heart rate is typically in a range from 41-45 and if I see it outside that range I generally have a reason I can attach to it: a race or hard effort the day before, lack of sleep/poor sleep, altitude or my body is fighting an illness.
One week of an elevated average resting heart rate of 54 had my attention. My respiratory rate was also slightly higher than normal at 17.7rpm, when typically it is closer to 16.9. It raised my eyebrows because my training had been average in volume, I had been sleeping adequately and I didn’t feel like I was getting sick. I mentioned it in passing to @iamtedking and he offered up a few potential reasons it could be elevated, the typical reasons I was also familiar with. In my head, alarm bells went off: there’s one more reason this could be happening.
I didn’t think pregnancy was the culprit, but I couldn’t rule it out. Without mentioning anything to Ted, I drove to the store to get a test so that I could put that out of my head. Lo and behold, there was that positive “+” sign.
The lowest resting heart rate I’ve seen since becoming pregnant is 47. The biggest increases in RHR are likely yet to come as I enter the second trimester and blood volume begins its most significant rise. The hormone progesterone is responsible for the rising respiratory rate: this can look and feel like shortness of breath, but its function is to increase lung capacity, allowing for higher oxygen levels for the baby. My study of the body during pregnancy taught me this, but to see the data happening real time is fascinating.
While it’s not limited to the Whoop, there’s so much to learn about what our bodies are capable of. At nine weeks pregnant, I set my highest 5 minute cycling power record, measured in watts, for the year despite that “short of breath” feeling. I was on a group ride and things got spicy and… I just felt good! Similarly, my Whoop recorded a strain score of 20.6 (just shy of the highest effort rating of 21) at Big Sugar 100 mile gravel race at 7 weeks. While caution is certainly not thrown to the wind, it doesn’t mean you can’t still exert yourself to similar levels as your pre-pregnancy self if that’s what energizes you. The body’s efficiencies to divert oxygen to the baby, to prepare the placenta for gas transfer needs and the ability to more efficiently cool the mother during pregnancy are nothing short of amazing.
I look forward to sharing more Whoop insights throughout pregnancy and postpartum. In the meantime, if you want to join in the Whoop fun and analyze fascinating data about your body, please use my affiliate link below which not only supports me as an athlete, but gets you $30 off and a free strap!