Pregnancy is not a new phenomenon. Women have been getting pregnant and giving birth for many thousands of years, and it is almost a certainty that they have been trying for the same length of time to find ways of confirming their pregnancy in its early stages. The options of visiting a doctor or buying an over-the-counter pregnancy test from a pharmacy were not available to the ancestors of modern women. They relied on what is now called a DIY pregnancy test, and their traditional methods can still be used today.
Reasons for Choosing a DIY Pregnancy Test
Although consultation with a doctor is recommended for pregnant women, in order to ensure their health and that of the child they are carrying, there are many reasons why a woman may not wish to use the services of a medical practitioner or pharmacy in order to confirm her pregnancy:
- The service offered by the doctor or pharmacy may be too expensive. (DIY pregnancy tests cost almost nothing.)
- It may be too difficult to get to the doctor’s rooms or visit a pharmacy (The ‘home’ part of ‘homemade pregnancy test’ says it all, because the ingredients are at your fingertips.)
- Her pregnancy may be a matter of inconvenience or embarrassment, or there may be other reasons for secrecy. (She is the only one who needs to know when she takes a DIY pregnancy test.)
- She may be an advocate of natural childbirth and wish to minimize her contact with the medical profession. (Homemade pregnancy tests rely on the same indicators used by doctors and pharmacists, but without their involvement.)
- The anxiety of waiting for a medical or over-the-counter test may to too much to bear. (DIY pregnancy tests can be conducted quickly , at any time of day or night.)
The Role of Hormone hCG in Homemade Pregnancy Tests
Pregnancy tests administered by a doctor or bought at a pharmacy are looking for the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in a woman’s urine. This hormone is made by cells working to form the placenta, which protects and nourishes the fertilized egg after it has become attached to the wall of the uterus. Homemade pregnancy tests – except for the oldest one of all, the observation of the natural physical signs of pregnancy – are also trying to detect the occurrence of hCG in a woman’s urine.
So the most reliable homemade pregnancy test methods include not only observing the natural signs of pregnancy, but also the DIY hCG detectors – the bleach pregnancy test, the sugar pregnancy test, the toothpaste pregnancy test and a number of other techniques .
Natural Signs of Pregnancy
Perhaps the earliest kind of homemade pregnancy test was the one still used in the 21stcentury. Women who are pregnant undergo physical changes even in the initial stages, and these are the indicators that make them suspect that they are in the early phase of carrying a child.
The first and most obvious sign is a delayed or apparently missed menstrual period. Newly-pregnant women may also have a higher body temperature and experience sweating, and their breasts and nipples may feel swollen or tender. Increased frequency of passing urine and regular feelings of nausea, known as ‘morning sickness’, complete the list of telltale indications of pregnancy, and any woman experiencing all of these symptoms may only need a DIY pregnancy test to confirm her near certainty that she is pregnant.
However, not all women experience these physical signs of pregnancy. Some may experience none of them, and may even continue to experience light bleeding, leading to confusion about whether or not they are pregnant. These women may benefit from using a homemade pregnancy test to detect hCG.
Bleach Pregnancy Test
Common household bleach is found in almost every home, sitting on a laundry shelf or under the kitchen sink, waiting to be used for whitening clothes, stain removal or disinfection. Now you can use this inexpensive item in yet another way, to detect your pregnancy. Simply pour a portion of bleach into a container and add a sample of your urine. Watch the mixture for a chemical reaction. If it foams and fizzes, there is good chance that you are pregnant, but if there is no reaction it is likely that you are not pregnant.
The problem with the bleach pregnancy test, and indeed all DIY pregnancy tests, is that there is no specified amount of either bleach or urine (try a 50/50 ratio, perhaps) nor a recommended time limit within which the chemical reaction should occur. Also remember that bleach is a potentially dangerous substance. For safety’s sake wear rubber or disposable gloves, and take the container of bleach outdoors before adding the urine in order to avoid the harmful effect of noxious fumes in a confined space.
Sugar Pregnancy Test
Sugar is another common and inexpensive household item that can be used to test for pregnancy. Put several spoonsful of sugar into a bowl and add urine to it, or urinate directly onto the sugar. This time you are looking for the formation of clumps of sugar. If the sugar does form clumps it is a sign that you are pregnant. If the sugar merely dissolves into the liquid when the urine is added, you are probably not pregnant.
All home pregnancy tests, including the sugar pregnancy test, are best done first thing in the morning on waking, when the urine is more concentrated. If it is not possible to do the test in the morning, preserve a sample of the first urine of the day in a sealable container and use it later.
Toothpaste Pregnancy Test
Next on your pregnancy test shopping list comes toothpaste. You need the plain white variety, not the fancy type made with gel or displaying colored stripes. There are two things that can happen to indicate pregnancy when urine is added. The toothpaste may turn light blue in color, or it may start to froth and foam. Either of these reactions may be interpreted as a positive indication of pregnancy. Unfortunately there is once again no indication of how much toothpaste or urine to use, or how long to wait for a result. An additional drawback is the tendency for the toothpaste to froth in any case if left in contact in the urine for long enough, even when the subject is not pregnant. The possibility for a confusing outcome suggests that the toothpaste pregnancy test should only be used as a back-up to other pregnancy tests.
Dandelion Pregnancy Test
The presence of dandelion leaves in this pregnancy test tends to indicate that it was first developed centuries ago when women were more in touch with the natural world and the lore of herbs. Yet dandelion is still a common weed, able to be found in all but the most meticulously-tended gardens or parkland. It is best to choose leaves from dandelions that are growing in the shade, since contact with direct sunlight can obstruct the efficiency of this test. Keep on protecting the leaves from sunlight once you have gathered them.
Place the leaves in a plastic container and add enough early morning urine to soak them thoroughly. Return after 10 minutes to check for signs of reddish blisters on the leaves. These blisters are a clear indication of pregnancy. If there are no blisters in evidence, keep checking at ten minute intervals until you are convinced that the leaves are not going to react to the urine: no reaction means no pregnancy.
Pine Sol Pregnancy Test
The pine sol test may be another DIY pregnancy test with origins in the mists of time. Although “Pine-Sol” is now a standard household cleaning product, women were making their own pine sol long before it became a brand name belonging to a major corporation. So you can either buy a bottle of original, unscented Pine-Sol at the grocery store, or simply collect pine cones, pine needles, and pine twigs and leaves. Instead of adding water to your collection, as your ancestors might have done to create a powerful antiseptic solution, just add urine. What you are looking for is a change in color, which indicates pregnancy. This change in color is probably more easily detected using commercial Pine-Sol rather than something you gathered in a park.
Vinegar Pregnancy Test
White vinegar is perhaps the cheapest ingredient to use for a homemade pregnancy test, if cost is a major consideration for you. Add morning urine to a cup of white vinegar and once again wait for a color change as a positive indicator of pregnancy. Trial and error appear to be the best recommendations where relative quantities of the two liquids are concerned, and also for how long you need to wait for the color to change.
Advantages of Homemade Pregnancy Tests
The kind of pregnancy test you can make at home is cheap and readily available. You probably won’t even need to step out of your door, because the ingredients you need are already in your pantry or closet, or in your garden at the furthest. There are no complicated instructions to follow, just a few observations to make, based on the same fundamental science used by your doctor and your pharmacist.
Drawbacks of DIY Pregnancy Tests
All of these homemade pregnancy tests have one thing in common: the lack of scientific data proving their accuracy. It would be going too far to dismiss them entirely as “old wives’ tales”, since they do have some basis in science and are looking for hCG, just like the pharmacy tests do.
Yet few of the DIY pregnancy tests give specific instructions regarding the quantities to be used of either urine or the additive, or of the time that must be allowed to elapse before drawing a conclusion about a positive or negative result. In addition, instructions about frothing, foaming, clumping, blistering and discoloration are frustratingly vague. It almost seems that it would be necessary to conduct all of the pregnancy tests in sequence before being able to draw a definite conclusion.
It is also a fact that homemade pregnancy tests are not effective as early in the pregnancy cycle as the ones produced by pharmaceutical companies are. DIY pregnancy tests rely solely on the interaction between urine and other substances, while some medical tests can detect hCG in a blood sample only 11 days after conception, and in urine 12-14 days after conception. Homemade tests typically do not work if they are conducted earlier than six days before the due date of the next menstrual period.
The Benefit of Choice
In the final assessment, modern women should be grateful that they do not need to rely on the rather hit-and-miss techniques for home pregnancy testing practiced by their forebears. Although our ancestors had no access to toothpaste, bleach, Pine Sol and refined sugar there were no doubt other alternatives that have since disappeared, while the dandelion, vinegar and pine needle tests have survived the passage of time.
The vast majority of women can now embrace the luxury of choice that allows them to feel a connection with the past, and perhaps have a little fun, by trying out the recipes for pregnancy testing that may have been all that their great great grandmothers could depend on. Then they can pick up the phone to make an appointment with their doctor, or walk down the street to the nearest pharmacy, to get a truly accurate assessment of their condition.