baby boy shoes and baseball

When you’re pregnant, you’ll probably get a lot of unsolicited opinions about your body and baby.

One of the most popular topics for discussion is whether that little bundle you’re carrying is a boy or girl. There are lots of old wives’ tales and other folklore about the matter.

Here’s some information to help you separate myths from facts.

When is sex determined?

Your baby’s sex is set as soon as the sperm meets the egg. It’s at the point of conception when a baby gets 23 chromosomes from each of their parents. Along with the gender, things like eye color, hair color, and even intelligence are already determined.

Your baby’s genitals start to develop around week 11 of pregnancy. Still, you won’t usually be able to learn the sex for several more weeks via ultrasound. Of course, that doesn’t stop moms-to-be and their families from making predictions.

The myths

Here are five of the most popular old wives’ tales regarding your baby’s sex. Keep in mind that none of these tales are based on fact. Instead, they’re myths and are simply for fun.

Remember: Even if some of these points run true for you (or have in the past), there’s a 50-50 chance of them being right either way.

1. Morning sickness

You may have heard that the severity of morning sickness is a clue about your baby’s sex. With girls, the thought is that hormone levels are higher. For that reason, you’ll have more morning sickness. With boys, you should have relatively smooth sailing in the sickness department.

The truth is that morning sickness can vary from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy. A study published in The Lancet revealed that women who had severe morning sickness in pregnancy were more likely to have girls. Otherwise, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support this idea.

2. Skin condition

Some people believe that a girl baby will steal the mother’s beauty. On the other hand, boys won’t give you as much acne. A similar tale revolves around hair growth. With a boy, your hair will be longer and have more luster. With a girl, it will be limp and dull.

There’s no truth either way. Hormones are just crazy in pregnancy and affect all women differently. Washing your face frequently can help with breakouts.

3. Cravings

With boys, you crave salty and savory foods like pickles and potato chips. With girls, it’s all about the sweets and chocolate.

In truth, no conclusive studies have been performed on food cravings as an accurate predictor of sex. Those cravings probably have more to do with your changing nutritional needs.

4. Heart rate

One of the most universal myths about gender revolves around your baby’s heart rate. If the beats per minute are under 140, the baby is supposed to be a boy. Higher than 140, it’s a girl.

Unfortunately, though this one sounds more scientific, there’s no hard truth behind it. A study published in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy revealed that there’s no meaningful difference between boy and girl heart rates in early pregnancy.

5. Carrying

If you carry low, you might be having a boy. Carry high? It’s likely a girl.

Actually, how you carry during pregnancy has more to do with the shape of your uterus, your unique body type, and your abdominal muscles.

How soon can you know?

Though sex is set from the start, you’ll likely need to wait a while before you decide to paint the nursery pink or blue.

There are a few ways you can find out the sex of your baby earlier, including the following.

Free cell DNA blood tests

You can now take a blood test as early as nine weeks into your pregnancy. This can reveal your baby’s sex. Free cell DNA tests like Panorama work in pregnancy because your blood is carrying traces of your baby’s DNA. You give a blood sample, send it to the group’s lab, and get your results in about seven to 10 days.

But revealing the gender isn’t the main goal of these tests. They’re actually a first line of testing for Down syndrome and other genetically inherited conditions.

Learning the sex is just a bonus. As a result, these tests aren’t necessarily covered under insurance unless you’re over age 35 or have a history that might warrant genetic investigation.

Other genetic testing

You may have an amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling (CVS) during your pregnancy. These tests are similar to the free cell DNA blood test, but they are more invasive. Like the free cell DNA tests, you can find out your baby’s sex, just not as early. A CVS is usually performed between weeks 10 and 12. An amniocentesis is performed between weeks 15 and 18.

If all you want to find out is the sex of your baby, you may want to skip these tests. They do carry some miscarriage risk. They are generally only recommended for older women, or couples with a family history of certain genetic conditions.


You can typically find out the sex of your baby via ultrasound. This will be performed between 18 and 20 weeks. At this appointment, the ultrasonographer will look at your baby’s image on the screen and examine the genitals for different markers that suggest boy or girl. This is part of a larger anatomy scan.

Even when you have an ultrasound, the technician may not be able to determine the sex of your baby due to a number of circumstances. If your baby isn’t cooperating and in an ideal position, you may need a repeat scan or might have to simply wait to find out.

The takeaway

Finding out the sex of your baby is exciting. You’ll probably hear about lots of ways to predict this important tidbit. But remember, most of these tales and theories aren’t based on fact. Just be patient, you’ll find out the gender soon!