What Happens When You Combine Analytics and Pregnancy?
What Happens When You Combine Analytics and Pregnancy?
Those of who know me might have noticed I have been suspiciously quiet. (Let’s be honest, that’s not the norm for me!) I wanted to explain a little about where I’ve been, and how I manage to make everything in my life about analytics.
If it wasn’t obvious from some of my previous posts and presentations, I have an interest in “quantified self” – essentially, tracking and applying analytics to every day life. So, when my partner and I were expecting a baby, of course I had to turn this in to an opportunity to analyze what happens to physical activity levels during pregnancy.
As background: I’m a pretty active person. I teach Les Mills group fitness classes (4-5 classes/week) and work out 6-7 days a week. Because I was so active before pregnancy, I was able to keep doing everything I had been doing, all the way up until the day I went in to labor. However, even with a focus on continued activity, I found there was still a “slow down” that happens in pregnancy.
I tracked my steps and “active time” (which includes any exercise, even if it’s not “steps based” – for example, this would include activities like swimming or yoga, that aren’t easily measured by “steps”) throughout pregnancy, as well as during the postpartum period. This gave me data I could use to examine the changes to activity levels at different stages of pregnancy, and after birth.
What I found
Here is what I found…
- Pregnancy definitely decreased my average daily step count, with the heaviest “hit” to my steps occurring in the third trimester.
- I went from 13,700 steps per day to 8,600 during pregnancy (a -37% drop.)
- The first trimester wasn’t a huge change. I was still taking 11,000 steps a day! (A -19% drop.) However, I was pretty lucky. I had an easy first trimester with no nausea. A lot of women are actually very inactive during the first trimester due to exhaustion and morning sickness.
- The second trimester I dropped to 9,000 steps per day. (Given the recommendation is 10,000 steps per day, 9,000 seemed pretty respectable for pregnancy, if you ask me!)
- The third trimester was my lowest, with 6,100 steps/day. If you look at the charts, you may notice a large drop around Week 35-37. That actually coincides with my partner heading out of town, to Adobe Summit. I was intentionally laying low to avoid going in to labor while he was gone! (I considered excluding this data as outlier, but decided to keep it in since it is accurate data.)
- However, the biggest drop was actually in the “post-partum” period immediately after birth, where I only took an average 6,000 steps/day (a -56% drop compared to before pregnancy.) For those who don’t know, you’re not supposed to do much of anything in the six weeks after birth. (It’s really boring.)
- The first five weeks after birth drove most of this, with only 3,400 steps/day.
- After six weeks I was able to return to teaching and a lot more activity, and am averaging back up at 8,600 (and continuing to trend up!)
- Pregnancy also decreased my “active time”, but not as significantly as my steps. Essentially, I was still staying active, but sometimes non-ambulatory activities like swimming, yoga, weight training etc were taking priority over activities like running (which I gave up towards the end of the second trimester.)
- While my steps decreased -37% in pregnancy, my active time only decreased -26%. So, I was keeping active, just in other ways.
- During the first trimester I was still managing an average of 2 hours of active time per day!
- This dropped to 1.7 hours in the second trimester, and 1.5 hours in the third.
- Similar to steps, the biggest drop was in the post-partum period, where I averaged only 1.2 hours of active time per day (a -48% drop.) The lowest of this was during Weeks 1-5 (only 0.7 hours/day), with 6 weeks post-partum seeing an increase in activity again – up to 1.8 hours/day and climbing!
In case you’re into charts:
How I tracked this
For years now I have used Jawbone UP products to record my step, activity and sleep data. I have IFTTT connected, which automatically sends my UP data to a Google Spreadsheet. That’s the data I used for this analysis.
Why no sleep analysis, you might wonder? Two reasons:
- The way Jawbone exports the sleep data is really unfriendly for analysis and would require so much data cleanup, I simply don’t have the time. (You’ve probably heard: babies can be time consuming!)
- Let’s be honest: Seeing how little sleep I’m getting, or how fragmented it is, would be a totally bummer. My partner is pretty awesome about sharing night duty 50/50, so I choose to not look to closely at my sleep, since I know it’s actually pretty darn good for a new parent!
Yes, there is actually such a thing as a Quantified Baby. My partner and I use the Baby Tracker app to record our son’s sleep, feeds, medication etc, which gives us amazing little charts we can use to detect patterns and respond accordingly. For example, choosing an appropriate bed time based on the data of his sleep cycles. There’s probably not a post coming out of that, but yes, the tracking does continue on!
Thanks for tuning in!
I undertook this analysis mainly because I found it interesting (and I’m a nerd, and it’s what I do.) Pregnancy was such a unique experience, I wanted some way to quantify and understand the changes that take place. Most people probably won’t be too interested, but if you have any questions or want to discuss, please don’t hesitate to leave me a note in the comments!