How to Read a Pregnancy Test

By
Tamara Runzel
- November 14, 2017

Pregnant or Not: Figuring Out the Pregnancy Test

How to Read a Pregnancy Test
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Trying to get pregnant can be a roller coaster of emotions. As you wait patiently to test, it’s helpful to know how a pregnancy test works and the different types available. The bottom line is, all tests will give you the same result, so go with the one that you’re most comfortable using.

How Pregnancy Tests Work

A lot happens in the couple weeks between ovulation and pregnancy. Once a sperm finds its way to the egg in the fallopian tube, it fertilizes the egg which stays there for three to four days before moving into the uterus. Once there, it attaches to the lining of the uterus.

It’s at this point that your body starts producing a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. This hormone builds up quickly in the first few days of pregnancy. It’s also hCG that triggers a positive on a pregnancy test, which is designed to pick up a certain concentration of the hormone in your urine.

When to Test

While some tests can detect a very small amount of hCG and determine if you’re pregnant before the first day of your missed period, the longer you wait, the more accurate the results.

Most doctors suggest waiting until the first day of your missed period. If you get a negative result and still think you’re pregnant, check again a few days later.

Types of Pregnancy Tests

You can go to the doctor to get a blood test to confirm whether you’re pregnant or not, but most moms prefer a quick, easy test at home first. There are two ways to test at home.

One involves holding the test stick in your urine stream. The other type requires you to collect urine in a cup and either put the test stick in the cup or use an eye dropper to squirt a few drops of urine into a well on the test device.

Generally, all tests require you to wait some amount of time for the results, usually a few minutes. Read the directions for your test carefully to make sure you know exactly what to do.

Reading the Results

Choosing a pregnancy test can be as difficult as deciding what to have for dinner. There are so many brands available at a number of different price ranges and different ways of showing a positive result. Just remember, all tests work the same way no matter how much they cost.

Here are some of the most common ways pregnancy tests let you know to start getting the nursery ready.

  • Two lines instead of one mean you're pregnant.
  • A plus sign instead of just a line signals you’ll be welcoming a new little one within the year.
  • The word “Pregnant” is definitely an indicator on digital tests that you’re growing a tiny human.

Calling Your Doctor

As soon as you get that magical positive, call your doctor to schedule your first prenatal appointment, as it might take a few weeks to get one.

Your first appointment will probably be one of your longest. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, give you a due date and check your height and weight. Your physical stats help him determine how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. Unfortunately, eating for two doesn’t mean ingesting an unlimited amount of calories. He will probably also give you a cervical exam and run some lab tests to check blood type and immunity to certain infections.

It’s also a good idea to write down any questions you might have about pregnancy to discuss with your provider at your first appointment.

About the Author

Tamara Runzel has plenty of experience on the professional side of things as well as the parenting side. The homeschooling mom of three young children earned a degree in Communication well before settling down to have a family. Since then she has built her expertise working in various areas of news. Tamara began her writing career writing, producing and reporting for television news before moving to print news at a military base. After having kids, Tamara decided it was time to find an avenue that allowed her to pursue writing as well as stay home to raise her kids. The knowledge she has gained in both the professional and parenting world are very useful writing online for sites such as WorkingMother.