Earlier this year, WHOOP launched a reproductive health study to help close knowledge and education gaps around women’s health and physiology. Research in the women’s health space has been historically underfunded, and WHOOP is working to change that. In an effort to better support reproductive health in all life stages, we are excited to announce groundbreaking research that improve the lives and health outcomes of premature infants worldwide, and that has powered our new feature – Pregnancy Coaching. Pregnancy Coaching aims to better serve our expectant members by providing weekly insights on the physiological changes their body is undergoing based on research we’ve observed, and guidance on actions expectant members can take to optimize their health and performance.
In a new study led by WHOOP Senior Vice President of Data Science & Research, Emily Capodilupo, WHOOP identified a novel biomarker that may be helpful in identifying full term and preterm births. WHOOP has observed that maternal heart rate variability (HRV) steadily declines throughout the course of pregnancy, and at seven weeks before birth, HRV inverts and begins to rise. That inversion is consistent with the eventual delivery date for both premature and full-term pregnancies, acting as a potential indicator of the likely delivery date. Understanding this change in HRV, which WHOOP researchers have labeled the WHOOP Inflection Point, has the potential to save lives, reduce medical costs, and provide more insight to expecting parents.
This research was initially conducted as part of our pregnancy and exercise HRV research with OBGYN Dr. Rowan of West Virginia University. That study was published in the scientific journal BioMed Central but only included research on 18 full-term births. WHOOP expanded the research at a speed and scale not seen in academic research and conducted the March 2022 Reproductive Health Study — the largest study of its kind ever conducted — to evaluate 1200 pregnancies and eventually identify this novel digital biomarker.
This potentially life-changing discovery led us to develop Pregnancy Coaching. Pregnancy is a uniquely challenging journey, and every week is a major milestone. After turning on the Pregnancy Coaching toggle, expectant members can input their projected due date from week 5 onwards to begin receiving a weekly report that contains tailored insights and recommendations as part of their Weekly Performance Assessment. From needing more rest, to increasing hydration, to exercise considerations, Pregnancy Coaching sheds more light on the adapting needs of the body. The Weekly Performance Assessment will also include resting heart rate (RHR) and heart rate variability (HRV) trends during every trimester based on their personalized baseline. Given these metrics change significantly throughout the duration of pregnancy, WHOOP will provide trend lines for expectant members to better understand how their own changes compare to what has been seen throughout the course of pregnancy for similar members.
WHOOP members will gain a deeper understanding of their pregnancy journey and bodies with personalized coaching that will accompany the weekly trend updates. Members can unlock this feature by opting-in to Pregnancy Coaching by tapping the “More” tab and selecting “Pregnancy Coaching.” The feature can be turned off at any time by following the same steps. When toggled off, an optional survey is available to share more information to help further our scientific research.
WHOOP members who may want to discuss their WHOOP data, Pregnancy Coaching, and the latest pregnancy research with their provider can use the overview below to guide their discussion.
Pregnancy Coaching is just one example of how WHOOP continues to invest in reproductive health. Last year, we released Menstrual Cycle Coaching to help members better understand how the phases of their menstrual cycle may affect their sleep, training, and recovery. Additionally, we are partnering with some of the world’s leading researchers and clinicians as part of the WHOOP Scientific Advisory Council, including Dr. Stacy Sims, Dr. Hazel Wallace, and Dr. Jessica Shepherd to better understand women’s health needs. Emily Capodilupo explains: “Traditionally academic research has underserved this population. Research here hasn’t been and isn’t being done. The nature of the data we have access to, we have a social responsibility to fill in these gaps.” We will continue to refine Pregnancy Coaching and build new features to address all phases, needs, and considerations of the reproductive health journey, and invest in essential research for historically underrepresented populations.