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How Does a Pregnancy Test Work?

Pregnancy tests detect something called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). Simple right? I mean who doesn’t know what Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is? Well I didn’t, and maybe you don’t either, so let’s find out.

Human – Not a dog, an Oak Tree, a Transformer, or any other space creature. The following diagram should help.

Human and not human

Chorionic – This one’s unfamiliar for sure. The root word here is “chorion” which refers to the outer membrane surrounding a developing embryo. Embryo describes a stage of human development, just like infant, toddler, or adolescent, and refers to a human in their first eight weeks of development. After eight weeks the growing baby is called a fetus, and we’re called infants or newborns on our birthday. So chorionic refers to something that comes from the chorion.


This is not Gonadotropin.

Gonadotropin – This is a specific type of hormone. Think about it like this, Bulldog is to dog what Gonadotropin is to hormone.

Putting it all together, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) simply means a hormone produced as a human embryo (baby) develops.

Pregnancy tests work on a chemical level, using a kind of molecular magnetism. The test contains a molecule with some color in it that is designed to attach itself to hCG, and when it finds the hCG the color is released and it shows up in the tiny window on the pregnancy test.


hCG increases as the baby grows, so the reliabilty of the test is better two weeks after conception than it would be just one week after. This is why a test that shows “not pregnant” may actually be inconclusive because the hCG levels may be too low to show up on your test. If you’re in doubt you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Bulldog Image courtesy of Photostock /

What is (are): Support Groups?

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. Life’s crazy enough as it is, but the possibility of having a baby on the way or managing all the wonders of parenting can make it crazier still. Our classes will empower you to make educated decisions and be as prepared as possible for whatever is happening in your life, but sometimes, like I said before, you just need someone to talk to.

Support (1)

Every once in a while, when you come in for class, we’ll forgo the DVD and hold  a support group instead. Instead of a lesson, one of our trained team members will set up a conversation for your class that day. Maybe you’ll talk about parenting struggles you’ve been having, maybe a discussion about the soreness and fatigue associated with pregnancy, or maybe it will be a chance to share some of the good things happening in your life. It changes. The goal is to give you a chance to be heard, and to hear from others going through some of the same things.

Relationships are what we do. That being the case, never hesitate to pull one of our team aside to talk, if that’s what you need. We all know there are days when life is so hectic it would be too hard to focus in class, and maybe the issue to intimate to talk about in a room full of people, if that’s ever the case for you, just let us know. Assuming we have enough people to cover everything, we’ll sit down for a little one on one time and hear your heart. We’re here to serve you, so don’t be shy.

What is: Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound?

When someone walks into the PHI Center who is or might be pregnant they may eventually receive an ultrasound. But this ultrasound is different than the ultrasound a pregnant mother receives at her doctor’s office. Ours is a “Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound.” Before becoming pregnant most people would be unable to define words like obstetrics, ultrasound, Caesarian, or Braxton-Hicks contractions; if those terms are unfamiliar to you, welcome to the club. Even your baby’s doctor didn’t always know what these terms meant so it’s okay if you don’t have them mastered. Since we provide Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound we want to make sure you know what it is.

In another post we’ll answer the question, “How does and ultrasound work?” This post will simply explain the difference between the ultrasound a mom receives from her doctor and the one she could receive at the Pregnancy Help and Information Center.

Cute, but we don’t use these.

Ultrasound is sound waves traveling at a frequency higher than a human can detect. “Sound” is the regular stuff we hear: dogs barking, people talking, and that kid tapping his pencil while we’re trying to concentrate. Sound that travels too slowly for us to hear is called infrasound and sound that travels too fast for us to hear is ultrasound. A dog whistle, for example, is a form of ultrasound. To the dog it’s just sound, because he can hear it. The human ear cannot pick it up because the sound waves are moving too fast. But we won’t be blowing a dog whistle at you in your ultrasound. Instead of a K-9 ultrasound, ours is “Obstetrical” ultrasound.

Obstetrics is the medical field that specializes in caring for women’s reproductive system and developing baby during a pregnancy (prenatal), childbirth, and once the child is born (postnatal). You might have noticed the letters OB-GYN after your doctor’s name, the “OB” comes from OBstetrics. “Natal,” by the way, comes from the old Latin word for birth, so prenatal and postnatal simply mean pre-birth and post-birth. I’m glad we changed it, because “Happy Natal-day” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So, Obstetrical Ultrasound is ultrasound used in the medical care of pregnant women and their growing baby.

When the OB-GYN’s office performs the ultrasound they’re looking to discover all kinds of information: status of the amniotic sac, placenta, and ovaries, the presence of more than one baby, the age of the baby, the baby’s health, the location of the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid, the baby’s position, and his or her size.1 Their team are trained in all aspects of Obstetrical Ultrasound and are qualified to observe and diagnose anything happening within the mother’s reproductive system and with the baby.

At the PHI Center, our nurse is trained in “Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound.” Limited simply refers to the questions our nurse seeks to answer when she performs the ultrasound and what she’s qualified to share with you. The questions you’ll have answered in our Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound are:

1. Is there a baby in the uterus?

2. Roughly how old is the baby?

3. Does the baby have a heartbeat?

Basically, we can confirm you’re pregnant and that the baby’s heart is beating. The cool part for you is getting to see your baby on the flat screen TV mounted on the wall. It’s one thing to experience morning sickness and feel the baby wiggling inside you; it’s a whole new level of joy to see the little one star in his own reality TV show. We want you to meet your child as soon as possible and a Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound allows us to make that introduction.

Hi, baby!




Am I Pregnant?

Each and every day thousands of women and teen girls receive positive pregnancy results. For many, the thought or feeling of being pregnant never even crosses their minds. Although every female body is different, there are however a number of signs you may encounter before knowing your pregnant.
These signs are:
• Bleeding/ Spotting
• Swollen/ Tender Breast
• Fatigue/ Tiredness
• Nausea/ Morning Sickness
• Backaches
• Headaches
• Frequent Urination

If you are experiencing any of these signs you may or may not be pregnant. The only way of knowing you are in fact pregnant is by taking a pregnancy; in which here at the PHI Center is both free and confidential. If you are seeking help come on in and we would be happy to assist you.
Our office hours are:
M: 1-8
T: 9-6
W: 9-4
T: 9-4
F: closed

The PHI Center’s Earn While You Learn Program

Last blog discussed services available through the PHI Center. This week, our goal is to provide you with a more in-depth explanation of what one of those services is.

The PHI Center’s Earn While You Learn Program:

Through this program, clients have the opportunity to earn “Baby Bucks” (PHI Center currency) to buy items available in our Stork Room by participating in educational classes related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Classes are selected according to client needs.

You can earn Baby Bucks if you:

Our Stork Room has a variety of new and gently used clothing and other items for parents and their babies. Some of those items include:

Services provided by the Pregnancy Help and Information Center

Welcome to the Pregnancy Help and Information (PHI) Center blog!

Introduced by the Spring 2012 interns: Ashley, Brianna, Katharine, and Susan.

Over the course of this blog we intend to educate expecting and parenting mothers and fathers on prenatal care, birthing, parenting information, and other services offered by the PHI Center.

We would also like to help you get acquainted with the services that are provided at the PHI Center:

PHI Center services are free and confidential, regardless of your age, race, or religion.

Hours of Operation:

Mondays 1pm to 8 pm

Tuesday 9 am to 6 pm

Wednesday 9 am to 4 pm

Thursday 9 am to 4 pm




Announcing the retirement of a faithful servant!

Here at the PHI Center we are always on the move; things are constantly changing, people are growing, and our ministry is evolving daily. However, after seventeen years of service, we would like to announce the retirement of our very own Barbara who will be leaving at the end of this month. It will be very difficult to fill her position as she has been such a rock for us all these years. Her presence daily will be missed but not forgotten. We wish her the best in this new journey in life called RETIREMENT.

My Friend is Pregnant. How Can I Help Her?

Your friend has confided in you and she may be scared and unsure what to do.   She needs your care, but beyond that the support of a neutral advocate who can help her with a plan.

Our center offers:

We are here to help your friend through this time and hope that you will contact us immediately. Call 850-222-7177 or stop by our center at 1710 S Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301 for help! All PHI Center services are free and confidential, regardless of your age, race, or religion.

I’m Pregnant and I Need Help Preparing for My Baby


Fear, uncertainty, feeling overwhelmed with decisions, can all lead you to look for someone you can trust.  At our center there are caring and compassionate people to help you.


You will be offered:


We are here to help you through this time and hope that you will contact us immediately. Call 850-222-7177 or stop by our center at 1710 S Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301 for help! All PHI Center services are free and confidential, regardless of your age, race, or religion.

My Girlfriend is Pregnant. How Do I Prepare for the Baby?

This may not be what you and your girlfriend expected.  Your emotions may be hard to deal with right now and you are wondering where to turn to for help.  Non-judgmental guidance from a client consultant is available for men and women at our center.

Every service is free and confidential:

Other areas of service:

We are here to help you and your girlfriend through this time and hope that you will contact us immediately. Call 850-222-7177 or stop by our center at 1710 S Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301 for help! All PHI Center services are free and confidential, regardless of your age, race, or religion.

We’d Love To Talk With You

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