13. Wheat and barley
One of the earliest known methods of trying to find out whether a woman was pregnant was an ancient Egyptian one known as the wheat and barley test. The urine of the pregnant woman was taken for several days and spread on seeds of wheat and barley to see if crops sprouted. This test was done to detect pregnancy and the gender of a baby.
The Egyptians might have known a thing or two! Researchers subsequently studied this method. They added urine from pregnant and non-pregnant females as well as males to two varieties of seeds of barley and wheat. Distilled water was used as a control. The urine from the non-pregnant females and males caused no growth of the seeds. In 28 out of 40 cases where the urine of pregnant females was used, appreciable growth occurred.
These researchers concluded that when growth occurs, the urine is presumably that of a pregnant woman, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Amazingly, the hormones in the urine actually do help the seedlings to grow. Not bad for those ancient Egyptians! The researchers did state, however, that they found no scientific basis for predicting the sex of a baby from this test.
People have conducted some curious tests to find out the sex of a baby over time – one of these is the cabbage test. Boil a red cabbage, save the water and add it to your urine. If the water turns pink, you’re having a girl, and if it turns purple, it’s a boy. Another idea is that if you have extreme morning sickness that goes beyond the first trimester, you’re probably having a girl. An old wives’ tale is that if you’re carrying low, you’re having a boy and if you’re carrying high, it’s a girl.
14. Mustard powder
This test works a little differently from some of the others in that no urine testing is required. Mustard powder has many uses, one of which is to regulate the menstrual cycle. It can also be used to determine whether a late period is due to pregnancy or other reasons. There are many different reasons why a period could be late, such as changes in diet or hormonal imbalances.
To use mustard powder to test for pregnancy, fill a bath with hot water and add fresh mustard powder. Mix it into the water thoroughly with your hand until all the particles are dissolved. Once it is dissolved, soak your whole body in the bath for about 15 minutes. After this, take a shower and wait until the next day. If you begin menstruation, the result is negative, and the delay was due to some other reason. If there is still no sign of your period, you could be pregnant. The reason this test works is because it raises your body temperature.
In the 1950s, if a woman wanted to know if she was pregnant, she could have her urine injected into an African clawed frog. The frog acted as a living pregnancy test, and if it laid eggs between five and twelve hours of being injected, the woman was pregnant. This test was faster and better than other tests which involved the deaths of mice, rabbits and frogs.
The use of frogs was slowly abandoned, but it was the frogs that turned pregnancy testing into a large-scale endeavor. Tens of thousands of frogs were injected with human urine in the 1940s and 1950s. Stocks of the African clawed frog (Xenopus) popped up all over the world as they became the very first mainstream pregnancy test.
15. Wine Pregnancy Test
There was a time when urine was tested not by using high-tech pregnancy tests or medical doctors but by prophets. These experts would examine urine and ascertain whether a baby was on the way by considering various factors such as smell and color. The more advanced prophets mixed the urine with wine. The urine was shaken up with the alcohol in a specially constructed container and observed for any changes.
Alcohol does, in fact, react with some of the proteins produced during pregnancy and cause changes in consistency, so maybe there was more to this method than meets the eye. Uroscopy, or examining urine, is a practice that actually dates back to ancient Babylonia.
The evolution of pregnancy testing has been a long and rather bizarre journey. In 1988, the first one-piece test kit was introduced by Unilever. In these kits, porous paper was permeated with antibodies which reacted to HCG. As the urine passed through the antibodies and into the control area, a colored band would appear if you were pregnant.
Today women have their pick of many user-friendly, accurate home pregnancy test kits though it’s interesting to note that we are still detecting pregnancy today by urinating on things. Most women now have the luxury of choice – they can choose to have some fun by trying out recipes that may have been all that some women could depend on in the past. Then they can pick up a kit from a pharmacy and get an accurate enough result to make that appointment with a gynecologist.