When Can You Tell the Sex of a Baby?

Most women that choose to find out the sex of their child use an ultrasound between 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. However, if the technician is not able to get a clear view of the genitals at the time this can prove to be difficult.

A baby’s vulva or penis begins forming as early as 6 weeks, but a boy or girl will still look very similar in ultrasound pictures until about 14 weeks. This can make it hard to tell the sex for several weeks after this point. But by 18 weeks an ultrasound technician should be able to identify the sex if the baby is sitting in a position that allows them to see the genitals. Otherwise another ultrasound can be scheduled at a later time.

Different Tests to Find Out Sex of the Baby

Ultrasounds Tests

Ultrasounds can be used to determine more than the gender of a child. The procedure is mainly used to determine if the fetus is developing properly. During an ultrasound a device will be used to send high frequency sound waves over the mother’s stomach into the uterus to capture a picture of the baby inside. These images can be viewed on a monitor, which means depending on the position of the baby you will be able to see if it is a boy or a girl. This is determined by the ability of the technician to identify the genitals on the fetus.

Boys and girls appear very similar before 18 weeks of pregnancy which is why most doctors wait until this point to perform an ultrasound. If the penis is not easily identifiable it can cause the technician to mistakenly identify the baby as a girl. Be sure to check to see how clearly the genitals can be identified in the picture to see how accurate this prediction is likely to be.

CVS and Amniocentesis

Some people use amniocentesis, CVS or other genetic tests to determine the gender of their child. These tests are primarily used to determine the risk of a chromosomal abnormality or genetic disorder such as Down syndrome. These tests also have a slight risk of miscarriage. Not everyone has these tests performed, but those that opt to undergo them often have CVS between 11-12 weeks and amniocentesis between 16-22 weeks. You will learn the gender of your child when the results are delivered.

Blood Test

In the future a blood test may be used to determine the sex of a child. Some European hospitals use a cell-free DNA method which checks for traces of male sex chromosomes in the mother’s blood to determine the sex of the developing child. The American Medical Association rated this method as having 98.8 percent accuracy for determining the sex of a boy and 94.8 percent accuracy when determining the sex of a girl in August 2011. This method of identifying a child’s gender is considered appealing because it is noninvasive, can be performed early in a pregnancy and is low-risk. Critics note that this could increase the chances of people terminating a pregnancy based on the results.

Performing a DNA test on the mother’s blood can also determine the sex of her child. This method is quite expensive so it is only available in a specialized laboratory rather than commercially.

Some Myths and Realities about Sex of the Baby

1. Carrying Low

This myth states that if your belly is low in the front you are having a boy but if your belly is wide in the middle you are having a girl. In reality there is no basis to this rumor. The shape of your belly, how much weight you gain while pregnant and the natural way your muscles align will determine where your belly sits, not the gender of your child.

2. Heart Beat

Rumor has it that if your child’s heartbeat is over 140 beats per minute you are having a girl. In 2006 it was determined that there was no gender difference in how fast a heart beats because baby’s heartbeats are naturally faster in the initial 28-30 weeks of pregnancy. In 1999 it was discovered that just before birth a female’s heart will beat more quickly, but you will likely already know the gender of your child by this time.

3. Sweet Tooth

Some claim that pregnant women who crave sweets are likely to have a boy while those that desire sour foods are having a girl. In reality it is your hormones intensifying your sense of smell that cause cravings, which are not impacted by the gender of the baby.

4. Morning Sickness All Day

Some say that if you have morning sickness all day it means you are having a girl. There may be some truth to this rumor as some studies have noted that those who suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum are more likely to have girls. This is because those that have higher levels of hCG hormones that cause morning sickness are more likely to have girls. However, it is still very possible for individuals carrying boys to develop this condition.

5. Face Shape

This myth combines two old wives’ tales claiming that those that gain a lot of weight in the face or those that have flushed, rosy cheeks are having a girl. In reality, neither of these beliefs have any basis. Both of these conditions can vary widely between women and are based on her body’s natural composition rather than the state of her pregnancy.


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