From the minute you share you’re pregnant, you begin to hear all sorts of comments about baby — many of them predicting the future sex of the little one.
Your mom may be convinced it’s a girl because you told her you’ve been craving chocolate. Your best friend knows for sure it’s a boy because the baby’s heart rate was fast at your first ultrasound appointment. And, while you don’t understand why she’s looking at your bump so intently at first, Linda in Accounting blurts out that your belly is low, so you’re definitely having a boy!
But can your belly size and other aspects of your pregnancy shed light on the sex of baby? Likely not, but keep reading to learn more about this pregnancy myth and others.
Belly shape is one of the more popular myths surrounding pregnancy and gender prediction. You may have heard that you’re carrying a boy if your belly is low. If it’s high, you’re supposedly carrying a girl.
The myth further explains that boys are more independent and, therefore, are carried lower in the uterus. Girls apparently need more protection, so they’re carried up higher.
These gender stereotypes aren't the only wacky thing about this myth. What’s even more wild is that you may have heard this myth in reverse depending on who’s telling it!
The truth: How you carry your pregnancy — both the size and shape of your belly — has to do with a number of factors... none of which indicate the sex of your baby.
If this is your first pregnancy or if you have strong abdominal muscles, you may carry your baby higher because the abdominal wall isn’t as stretched. On the other hand, if this isn’t your first child, your abdominal wall may have stretched more and more with each pregnancy, making your bump fall a bit lower.
Beyond that, the size and position of your baby may also affect how your belly looks on the outside. For example, later in pregnancy your baby may engage and move lower into the pelvis, making your bump look low.
Your baby’s position at any given time may also temporarily change the shape and size of your bump.
People have been sharing old tales predicting baby gender for hundreds of years. It’s tempting to use these claims when trying to imagine your baby, but few of them are backed by any formal research.
Here are some of the more popular myths — though since none of these are supported by science you may want to wait for a gender reveal until sex is confirmed by ultrasound or at birth:
- Cravings myth: Want to eat lots of salty things? Then you’re having a boy. More into the sweet stuff? There’s a baby girl in your belly!
- Heart rate myth: Higher heart rate means a boy. Lower heart rate means girls. But you may also come across the opposite prediction.
- Morning sickness myth: Less morning sickness means a boy — more means a girl. The idea here is that higher hormone levels with female pregnancies may make women more sick.
- Skin appearance myth: Glowing beautiful skin means a boy. Acne and other skin issues means a girl.
- Hair appearance myth: Thicker, shinier hair means a boy. Limp, dull locks means a girl. There’s a general theme here that girls steal their mothers’ beauty.
If you do want to know what baby will be, you don’t necessarily need to wait too long.
Your baby’s sex becomes apparent starting as early as
There are also cell-free prenatal DNA tests that you can have as early as week 10 in your pregnancy, up until you're due. This isn’t a gender test, but it does examine fetal cells for chromosomal abnormalities.
After you give blood in a lab, the sample is analyzed to look for any DNA that’s circulating. From there, it’s a process of elimination. If the screen detects the Y chromosome, you may be having a boy. If not, you’re likely having a girl.
You may also know your baby's gender before becoming pregnant if you're conceiving through IVF. Similar to the cell-free DNA blood screenings, some genetic tests offered through fertility clinics can identify gender based on the presence of a Y chromosome. These tests are only available if you're planning to use a frozen embryo.
Want to share your baby’s gender in a fun way? Think beyond the pink and blue cakes, and try some of these ideas:
- Fill a box with blue or pink balloons, then release the balloons in front of friends and family.
- Fill a piñata with all pink or all blue candy and get smashing.
- Stage a photoshoot where you and your partner wear white T-shirts and paint on each other with blue or pink paint. Share some of the photos in black and white, and then make the big reveal in color.
- Get some containers of Silly String (aerosol string) for your guests and then have them all shoot it at the same time to reveal boy or girl.
- Buy a pink or blue outfit or pair of shoes and share that as your reveal photo on social media.
- Grab some pink or blue confetti cannons and have friends and family release them at the same time.
If you don’t want to share the sex of your baby with the public yet, you don’t have to.
Expecting parents who choose to keep the information to themselves may simply ask their friends and relatives to respect their wishes to keep it private. Others choose to go “team green” and not find out the sex of their babies until delivery.
A royal surprise
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, chose not to learn the sex of any of her children before birth.
Be upfront with your doctor, techs, and other medical professionals about your choice. The sex of baby may come up more toward the end of your pregnancy at ultrasounds or other well-check appointments. It may be easy to accidentally have this information slip if you don't remind others of your choice.
And when choosing items for registries, consider going with neutral colors for clothing and bedding. You may even want to do something fun as your due date arrives, like making a baby pool for everyone to guess the gender.
Until you have a blood test or ultrasound in the middle of your pregnancy, gender prediction is all fun and games. And the results are about as accurate as you’d get with flipping a coin.
You have a 50-50 shot at guessing it correctly — so have fun.
Enjoy these moments before your doctor shares whether you’re having a boy or girl. Then, when the time comes, enjoy spreading the news with your family or keeping it all to yourself for the ultimate reveal on your baby’s birth day.