In the news this week there has been a lot of speculation about whether it’s possible to know if an unborn baby is going to be a boy or a girl… but is this really possible?
Realistically it is only possible to find out the sex of a baby during an ultrasound that takes place during the 20th week of pregnancy, however there are lots of ‘old wives tales’ which claim to predict the sex of your baby.
We asked Mr Mohamed Abdel-Aal, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, to help us bust a few common myths that are often associated with predicting the sex of a baby.
Myth: if a woman experiences severe morning headaches there are good chances that she may have a baby girl.
Reality: This myth has provided fodder for a heated discussion among the obstetricians in the UK but to no conclusion due to lack of scientific evidence. If a woman is experiencing severe headaches in the morning, it is more likely that she is experiencing high blood pressure!
Myth: It is believed that if the heartbeat of the baby is less than 140 then it will be a baby boy and if the heartbeat exceeds 140, it will be a baby girl.
Reality: Although this myth is a popular one there is only one particular study that favours it. The study was conducted at the University of Kentucky in 1993 which concluded that this sex prediction method was true for 91% of baby boys and 74% of baby girls.
Placement of Foetus
Myth: If you are carrying a girl it will be high up in the belly and if you are carrying a boy the foetus will be held low and down. This myth is based on the English folk wisdom that boys need greater independence and are carried down below while the girls need more protection therefore they are carried high up in the womb.
Reality: There are no scientific studies or experiments to support this myth.
Myth: If the pregnant woman has a high tendency towards sweets like chocolate etc, she will give birth to a baby girl while a tendency towards salty foods can depict the presence of a baby boy.
Reality: This myth is particularly untrue because some people like sweets more than others. According to this myth, they may never be able to have a baby boy but this is not true and scientifically every couple has equal chances having either a baby girl or a baby boy.
Myth: Boys are more active inside the uterus while the girls are more placid. If the baby inside the belly shows more movements then it will be a boy and if it stays calm mostly, it will be a girl.
Reality: The activity of a foetus inside the uterus always ignites discussions amongst obstetricians and doctors. This particular myth is untrue because the movements of the baby inside the uterus depend on many other factors.
Determining the sex of a baby will always be a point of curiosity for parents-to-be. Tests have been developed to determine the sex of the baby but many people still like to rely on some myths about prediction of the sex of the foetus.
Although the above myths in medical terms are not true, they still prove popular amongst many expectant mums!
So scientifically how can expecting mothers determine the sex of their baby?
There are two methods to determine the sex of the baby. The first one is a part of invasive testing i.e. CVS or amniocentesis (the needle test). If one of these tests is carried out to find out about chromosomal abnormalities then the sex chromosomes can also be checked to identify the sex of the baby (XX for girls and XY for boys). This is extremely accurate however this invasive test cannot be performed just to find out the sex of the baby.
The other most common scientific method is ultrasound scan usually from 16-17 weeks onwards. It is over 95% accurate depending on the experience of the operator. Usually 2D scans are used to find out the sex but sometimes 3D, 4D scan can be useful and fun to watch for parents-to-be!