Tips for Taking a Pregnancy Test

Illustration of a woman taking a home pregnancy test

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin 

Pregnancy tests are supposed to be foolproof these days. In many ways they are foolproof. Though even though the tests have gotten easier to take, they still involve a component that we can't quite control—our emotions.

Anyone who has ever sat over a small white disk filled with their urine, praying for a certain result will tell you, emotions play a big part in pregnancy testing. Here are some tips to help you deal with reading the test, regardless of your emotions.

Stay Calm Mom: Episode 2

Watch all episodes of our Stay Calm Mom video series and follow along as our host Tiffany Small talks to a diverse group of parents and top doctors to get real answers to the biggest pregnancy questions.


A Positive Pregnancy Test: Now What?

Use First-Morning Urine

First-morning urine actually has more of the hormone (hCG) that the test is looking for. This makes it more likely to get an accurate test reading. If you're worried you'll forget to collect it when you first get up, close the lid to your toilet and set the pregnancy ​test on top. Some say that if you hold your urine for more than four hours it is the same as first-morning urine.

The key is to not overload yourself on fluids to make your urine more dilute.

Follow the Instructions

You're likely anxious, which is normal when faced with the small pregnancy test that has the potential to change your life forever. But, before you even enter the bathroom, pull out the instructions and read them thoroughly. Be sure you know what you're doing, don't assume you remember from previous tests. It will also give you information on time limits, both in how long you need to wait and when the test is no longer valid to be read.

Use a Timer

You might feel like you're a great estimator of time, but when you're dealing with a pregnancy test, bring along your unbiased friend—the timer on your phone or a clock. If the test says you shouldn't read the results after 10 minutes, a clock can tell you if the test turned positive at nine minutes and 30 seconds or 10 minutes and three seconds. This can be a huge difference.

Use a Cup

Even if the directions tell you to hold a pregnancy test in your urine stream, don't panic. If you're not a good aim or are worried that you'll make a huge mess, don't fear. Collect the urine in a cup. Then simply hold the absorbent end of the pregnancy test into the urine in the cup for the amount of time you were supposed to hold it in your urine stream.

Ask Questions

Don't be afraid to call the toll-free number on the box for help, if needed. That's what it's there for! You can ask the people, usually nurses, any questions that concern you. Typical questions might be about medication interactions that affect the pregnancy tests workings or even something about evaporation lines, test reliability, etc. 

A Word From Verywell

While this is one of the most important tests that you will ever take, the good news is that they are pretty error-proof. They are designed for lay people to use them easily and without many incorrect results. This should give you the confidence you need to test and not stress about it.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for over-the-counter (OTC) human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) 510(k)s - Guidance for industry and FDA reviewers/staff.

  2. Gnoth C, Johnson S. Strips of hope: Accuracy of home pregnancy tests and new developmentsGeburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2014;74(7):661‐669. doi:10.1055/s-0034-1368589

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.