Take stick, pee, wait – right? It’s not actually that simple…

It must be one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) moments for any prospective parent: the minute your home pregnancy test tells you what you want to know.

Of course, no test is infallible, so to help you make sure that yours is as accurate as it can be, we’ve put together some useful tips:

1. Choose your timing

Pregnancy tests work by recording the levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that’s released after implantation. The problem is that, if you have recently had a miscarriage or another pregnancy, the hormone may still be present in your blood. Any test taken at this time may, therefore, give a false positive. This is also why some pregnancy tests can give you a result long before others are able to: they’re simply more sensitive to hCG levels.

2. Don’t be too eager

Of course, patience isn’t really part of your vocabulary when you’ve been trying for a baby. The temptation to take a test if your period is even one day late is understandable. But, the problem is that doing so may give you a false negative. Even if the test claims to be able to give results just three days after you were due. It’s best to wait at least one week until the date that your period was supposed to start. And, whatever the result, take another test a few days later.

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3. Check the expiry date

It turns out that pregnancy tests can go ‘off’. Well, not really. But, they do tend to lose efficacy if they’re not new, especially if they’ve been kept in a warm, moist place. So, the bathroom might not be the ideal place to keep your test. This is because the chemical that reads hCG levels tends to deteriorate over time. It’s worth the expense to buy a new kit every time you want to test, rather than stocking up – and when you do, double check the details on the box to make sure it’s still valid.

4. Read the directions

Take stick, pee, wait – right? It’s not actually that simple. Because tests have become so sophisticated, many have different instructions. For example, while some give results in seconds, others can take as long as 10 minutes to develop. Read through the leaflet, just in case.

5. Make it the first thing you do

Urine is concentrated in the morning, before you’ve had anything to drink – so to get a really accurate result, do your test before you have your morning cuppa.

Everyone’s favourite test

We canvassed some moms about the test they’d most recommend, and their answers were unanimous: the Clear Blue Digital Pregnancy Test gets the thumbs up because it is so simple to use and understand.

In her 16 years as a journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and the Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.

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