1. At-Home Tests
Home Pregnancy Tests
Your healthcare provider may ask you to
take a home pregnancy test when you miss a period to help determine if
you’re pregnant. These tests are so accurate that your healthcare
provider may rely on them as an initial screening for pregnancy.
Sometimes a woman misses a period because of stress, excessive physical
exertion or dieting, not pregnancy. If the test is positive, make your
first prenatal appointment.
Home pregnancy kits
were first introduced in 1976; in 1999 the average price was between
$15 and $20. Tests in 2012 average between $6 to $10. Some even cost as
little as $1—and they’re accurate. A study compared pregnancy tests
from dollar stores with tests used in doctors’ offices and clinics. It
found the dollar-store tests were as sensitive as more expensive tests.
Tests detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin
(HCG), a hormone of early pregnancy. Pregnancy tests can show positive
results even before you miss a menstrual period. Most tests are
positive 7 to 10 days after you conceive! However, most healthcare
providers recommend you wait until you miss your period before taking a
test to save you money and emotional energy.
Some at-home pregnancy tests can pick up
lower levels of HCG than others. Some are more sensitive. For women who
want to test early, these products may be good choices.
The best time to take a home pregnancy test is the first day after
your missed period or any time thereafter. If you take the test too
early, you may get a result that says you aren’t pregnant when you
really are! This happens for about 50% of the women who take the test very early.
Gender-Prediction Test Kits
You may have seen gender tests
advertised that use your blood or a urine sample to determine baby’s
sex. They are often offered on the Internet. But experts agree tests
available may not offer accurate results.
One over-the-counter test claims it can predict your baby’s sex as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy. Called the IntelliGender’s Gender Prediction Test,
it uses a urine test to provide immediate results that indicate baby’s
gender based on a color match. Green indicates boy, and orange
indicates girl. However, before you rush off to buy the test, you
should realize test results are actually only about 80% accurate. They
only indicate the possibility of determining whether baby is a girl or a boy.
To do the test, you use your first
morning urine. You need to avoid sexual relations for at least 48 hours
before taking the test, and you can’t be taking any hormones, such as
The Pink or Blue test is another
at-home test developed to determine baby’s gender by examining DNA of
the mom-to-be. Research has shown fetal DNA can be found in a mother’s
bloodstream. A woman sends a small sample of her blood to the lab, and
results of the test (boy or girl) are sent to the parents-to-be. The
makers of the product claim the test is 95% accurate and can predict a
baby’s sex as early as 6 weeks after conception (8 weeks of pregnancy).
2. Tests You May Have
Tests at Your First Prenatal Visit
Your healthcare provider will probably
order a battery of tests during your first or second visit. These may
include the following:
•a complete blood count (CBC) to check iron stores and to check for infections
•urinalysis and urine culture
•a test for syphilis
•cervical cultures, as indicated
•rubella titers, for immunity against rubella
•a test for hepatitis-B antibodies
The results of these tests give your
healthcare provider information he or she needs to provide the best
care for you. For example, if testing shows you have never had rubella
(German measles) and you never received the rubella vaccine, you know
you need to avoid exposure during this pregnancy and to receive the
vaccine before your next pregnancy.
Later in pregnancy, your
healthcare provider may repeat some tests or order new tests. For
example, 28 weeks of pregnancy is the best time to pick up blood-sugar
authorities are concerned some couples may consider ending a pregnancy
because of baby’s sex based on the result of these tests. If you have
questions or concerns, discuss them with your healthcare provider.