Old Home Remedies for Pregnancy Testing

By Rosenya Faith
A pregnancy test that detects HCG is a reliable at-home pregnancy indicator.

Home pregnancy tests are a relatively modern invention. Prior to the availability of Warner-Chilcott's e.p.t. (Early Pregnancy Test) home pregnancy test kit in 1977, a missed period was the only early clue that a baby might be on the way. From this uncertainty stemmed a myriad of myths and old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy detection. While most of these myths have no scientific merit, if you do decide to try one for fun, keep safety in mind. For example, stay away from tests that utilize chemicals to avoid breathing in fumes.

Ancient Pregnancy Tests

In 1350 B.C., Egyptians mixed urine, grain and barley to test for pregnancy. If any of the seeds began to germinate, the pregnancy test was positive. This test was even used to predict gender. For example, if the wheat began to grow, the baby would be a girl; whereas, growing barley seeds signaled a baby boy.

While not a gender predictor, this test is potentially not entirely without merit. A laboratory test in 1963 found that the urine of pregnant women caused wheat and barley sprouts to grow 70 percent of the time, while the urine from non-pregnant women caused no growth, according to the Office of the National Institutes of Health History.

Pregnancy Prediction in the Middle Ages

Medieval women added wine to urine to detect pregnancy. If the color of the urine remained unchanged, the test was negative. It is possible this test held some merit because some proteins in urine and alcohol can react, explains the Office of the National Institutes of Health History.

Supposed experts during this period claimed to be able to diagnose a pregnancy from the color of a woman’s urine. For example, a sample that was pale and transparent lemon to off-white in color with a cloudy surface was purportedly indicative of pregnancy.

Early Hormone Tests

During the 1930s, rabbits were used to detect pregnancy. However, this was done in a laboratory with a urine sample collected from a woman. Injected with urine, the female rabbit’s body would be stimulated to produce growths in the ovaries in response to the human chorionic gonadotropin present in the urine. Upon euthanizing the rabbit, doctors would dissect the rabbit to check for these growths and confirm a pregnancy.

Old Wives’ Tales

If you have a yard full of dandelions, an old wives’ tale suggests to utilize the leaves to confirm a pregnancy. Place the leaves in a shady place on plastic or paper and soak the leaves in a urine sample. Within 10 minutes, red blisters supposedly appear on the leaves to indicate a positive pregnancy test.

Tuna juice and vinegar were once purported to test for pregnancy. By mixing 1/4 cup of each together and combining it with a urine sample, the test supposedly turns green to confirm pregnancy, or yellow or orange for a negative result.

Combine a first-morning urine sample with Pine Sol for a supposed at-home pregnancy test. If the solution changes from its base color within 10 minutes, there's a baby on the way.

When you brush your teeth in the morning, add a few drops of urine to white toothpaste in a separate cup. If it turns blue, you may be pregnant.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.