Facts and Myths About Predicting the Sex of Your Baby
In most cases, after the pregnancy test showed the cherished two strips, the couple begins to ask the main questions - when will the baby be born and what gender will it be? For many parents-to-be, knowing the gender helps to get closer to the baby in the tummy.
Sometimes, this information is important for medical purposes when a genetic disorder in a family is sex-linked. However, curious parents have always tried, try and will try to find out the gender, using not only scientific, but home and other methods gleaned from various sources. Let's consider the most common ones. And in the meantime Feskov Human Reproductive Group offers a sex determination service within the framework of IVF programs, surrogacy, donation.
Know or wait
The very first decision that parents make even before the birth of a child is to find out or not the gender of the baby. According to a 2017 study in Sweden, 57% of couples would like to know the gender of their baby before birth. Being aware of the gender of a child is a personal choice of a man and a woman in the family. There is no right or wrong solution, however, each solution has its own disadvantages and advantages.
What are the most common reasons to know gender:
- Early connection with the baby. Many young parents believe that this knowledge will help them develop a closer bond with the baby. To feel closer to the baby in the first hours and days of his birth.
- Simple curiosity. And not only of parents, but of family members, relatives, friends and just acquaintances who will endlessly ask questions like: “Do you already know who it will be?”, “Are you going to find out?”. And some people just don't like surprises and don't want to wait 9 months of pregnancy.
- Choosing a name. This is important if there are certain rules in the family when names are passed from generation to generation. Or when people plan to name the baby by some special name related to gender. Although nowadays most names are flexible and not as strongly gender-specific as they used to be.
- Children's room decoration and toys that will respond to gender differences. Pink tones for a girl, blue for a boy.
- Party. Which is arranged by many to share the news of who will soon appear with friends and family. For this, knowledge of gender is an obligatory element of the program.
- Medical indications. Gender determination can be an element of prenatal observation of genetic diseases that are characteristic of one or the other sex. It also implies more extensive genetic testing.
However, not every parent wants to know gender. Sometimes it happens that in a couple, one person wants to know this, and the other prefers not to know. Therefore, there are also reasons to keep the gender of the baby a secret until his birth:
- Surprise. Some parents want gender to be an unexpected surprise during childbirth. And this desire is stronger than curiosity during pregnancy.
- In order not to be disappointed ahead of time. Gender disappointment is a serious test for parents. Someone wants a boy, and someone dreams of a girl. Many, knowing this, prefer not to know, since there will be so much joy and excitement on the baby's day of birth that there will be no time for disappointment.
- Features of culture and religion. In some cultural traditions, it is considered a bad sign to know the sex of a baby before birth. And various religious dogmas claim that gender prediction can be contrary to God's plan.
- Calm attitude towards traditional gender stereotypes. People don't care who is born. And gender differences in clothes, room decoration or toys are not important. They are for neutrality, not for separation.
In any case, not only each separately taken married couple decides to determine the sex of the future baby, but every person in the family has the right to do so.
Objectively, there is no deliberately correct or incorrect answer to the question - is it worth or not worth knowing the sex of a baby before his birth. Although, of course, there are pros and cons.
One of the downsides is gender frustration. If a parent desperately wants a boy, and a girl is born, then he may experience disappointment, sadness and even grief, to some extent.
Similar feelings, in fact, are experienced by many people who are upset by the gender of their baby. However, they are silent about their “grief”. A parent with gender frustration may feel ashamed. Since it seems that a parent should be happy with a child of any gender, if the latter is healthy and everything is in order with him.
Every parent wants to have a healthy child. But also, many people want a kid who will bring certain ideas to life to achieve success. In some cases, such hopes coincide with the preferences of one sex for the other.
Dreams about a child's future are normal, even if they are not voiced out loud. Of course, one must always hope that the baby will be an intelligent, beautiful, sociable and decent person.
Sometimes, parents who overly prefer one gender to another decide to wait and find out the gender on the baby's day of birth. Part of the logic behind this decision is that the excitement of the long-awaited day will overwhelm any sense of frustration that may arise.
However, it should always be borne in mind that it can overtake a person later or even at this very moment. And it can be difficult to hide. This will affect future family relationships.
Therefore, one of the benefits of knowing gender sooner rather than later is that the person will have enough time to get used to the thought or maybe even work with a psychologist on this issue.
The wrong gender prediction is also a risk. Errors are rare here, however, they also happen. One study on this issue has shown that in 1 in 100 ultrasound cases at a period of 14 weeks, the sex of the fetus is incorrectly identified. Another study claims that forecast errors occur in less than 1% of the time. The likelihood of this is increased if the fetus's genitals are deformed and not properly developed.
Ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy leads to more errors than in the second or third trimester. During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the ultrasound specialist accurately identifies the sex of the fetus 3 times out of 4.
Medical sex determination techniques
There are more or less reliable ways to find out the sex of a child. The most widely used ones in the medical environment are:
- Chorionic villi sampling.
- Non-invasive prenatal testing.
- Conventional ultrasound.
- Ramzi ultrasound technique.
Let's consider each of them in more detail. Amniocentesis or amniotic fluid sampling accurately indicates the sex of the child with 100% accuracy. However, this procedure is not easy and involves a number of risks. During it, the needle penetrates through the abdominal cavity into the uterus to the amniotic sac and sucks in the amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid contains fetal genetic material. And her chromosome analysis will show the presence or absence of genetic pathologies and the gender of the baby (XX - female, XY - male).
Amniocentesis is usually done because of the risk of developing genetic abnormalities. If the family has a hereditary disease, the expectant mother is over 35 years old, or during previous tests, an increased risk of any ailment, such as Down's syndrome, was noticed. At the same time, you can ask along the way to determine the gender of the future baby.
However, it should be borne in mind that manipulation is associated with the risk of infection of the fetus and miscarriage. According to a 2018 study, the risk of miscarriage after amniocentesis is 0.35%. It depends on the experience of the specialist and the technique of execution. The shorter the pregnancy, the higher the risk.
Very rarely, there are cases when, with certain genetic pathologies, the sex chromosomes of the fetus are not typical as with the syndrome Klinefelter XXY, and in Turner syndrome, XO.
The next method is sampling the chorionic villi, which also gives a 100% reliable result. However, like the previous method, it is invasive, carries medical risks, and is never used solely for sex determination. The procedure involves taking a tissue sample from the placenta (hairy placental protuberances - villi) and examining it for chromosomal abnormalities.
The method can also provoke fetal infection and miscarriage. Research claims the risk is 1.9%. If there are medical indications for manipulation, you can ask to find out the gender of the future baby.
Non-invasive prenatal testing, which is also aimed at detecting chromosomal abnormalities, is an innovative and low-risk method. The analysis identifies strands of DNA that are freely present in the circulatory system - extracellular DNA. And a pregnant woman has threads of extracellular DNA of the future child in her blood, which originate from the placenta.
The test is used for preliminary detection of genetic problems. If confirmed, invasive research methods (amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling) will be recommended.
To find out the sex, fragments of the Y chromosome are looked for in the blood, which indicate a boy. Since this is a relatively new analysis, the level of accuracy is difficult to determine.
What affects the result:
- blood quality;
- test time - the shorter the gestation period, the lower the accuracy;
- instead of a child, it is possible to identify the presence of genetic pathologies in the mother.
Research from 2014 says that in 10-20% of cases the results are not accurate. This means that out of 10 pregnant women, 1 or 2 will not get an accurate result. With multiple pregnancies, in this way it is possible to determine not the number of boys, but whether there is at least one boy in the stomach at all.
Conventional ultrasound is the simplest, safest and most effective method to find out who it will be: a boy or a girl. Although it should not be abused either. Ultrasound is done strictly according to indications at certain gestational ages, and not when the future parents want it. Screening at 18-22 weeks of gestation shows the doctor that the baby is developing correctly and is healthy. Along the way, the doctor offers to voice the gender of the baby, if the parents want it. Since ultrasound clearly shows the presence of a boy's penis, which is usually very clearly visible.
Parents should always tell the professional whether or not they need to know the gender. Also, you can ask to write down the sex on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope in order to open it later in the presence of the other parent or if one of them does not want to know the truth.
When ultrasound errors are possible:
- screening up to 12-14 weeks of gestation;
- pathology of the reproductive organs in the fetus;
- hidden genitals (more common before 18 weeks);
- experience and skills of an ultrasound specialist.
For a period of up to 12 weeks - the accuracy of sex determination is 54%, from 11 to 14 weeks - 75%, after 14 weeks - 100%.
Ultrasonic method Ramzi determines the sex by the side of the uterus where the placenta is attached. On the left it is female, on the right it is male. Although the method is positioned as scientific, there is no reliable research on it. At the same time, many companies are ready to consider intrauterine ultrasound images for a certain fee for an accurate result. However, it is easier and safer to wait for the usual ultrasound in the second trimester.
Home ways to find out the gender
Some argue that it is possible to find out the gender of the baby at home using, for example, urine tests or non-invasive prenatal tests for self-use.
While a large number of urine-based tests are sold in pharmacies, none of them are scientifically accurate. Some indicate that they can be used for entertainment purposes, while others have a disclaimer inside. Even if the buyer is guaranteed a 100% result or money back, such products are based on the fact that many do not ask for a refund. And also on the fact that in 50% of cases the test is correct, solely on the basis of the theory of probability.
Unlike home urine tests, genetic tests are scientifically based and may be helpful for parents-to-be. This requires the mother's blood, taken according to all the rules. Gender is determined by fragments of extracellular DNA floating in the fetal blood. Y indicates a boy, if it is absent, then there will be a girl. The accuracy of the analysis is quite high - 95%. It is advisable to do the test no earlier than 9 weeks of gestation, and also wash your hands thoroughly when collecting blood, so as not to reduce accuracy.
Unscientific methods for finding out a boy or girl
Errors are most common when using unscientific methods of identifying gender characteristics in the fetus. Therefore, it is better for parents not to make plans and not emotionally become attached to a deliberately inaccurate forecast.
The truth about some of the basic theories that inevitably arise once everyone knows about a woman's pregnancy:
- morning sickness (hyperemesis of pregnant women) is the most famous example of folk signs. Which says that the worse a pregnant woman feels, the more likely a girl is to be born. And surprisingly, there is some truth in this. Research suggests that severe morning sickness is associated in most cases with a female fetus. However, this is not 100% a sign of having a female child, it is just that it is more likely to be female rather than male. But how high is this probability? Data from 2004 showed that in 50% of hospitalizations for hyperemesis of pregnant women, girls were carried. And if a woman was forced to spend more than 3 days in the hospital, then this probability increased to 80%;
- intuitive feeling. Some people claim that they feel who they will have: a boy or a girl. This method is based on parental intuition rather than signs and symptoms. A small study showed that educated people with a college background in 71% of cases correctly determined the gender of their baby. On the contrary, ordinary people with secondary education could do it only in 43% of cases. It is not yet clear how educational level affects intuitive abilities. However, there is no reliable evidence that intuition can serve as a reliable measure of sex determination;
- fetal heart rate. Some pseudo-scientific experts claim that a girl's heart beats faster in the womb than a boy's heart. However, real scientific research has not confirmed this. There is no statistically significant difference between male and female fetal heart rates;
- shape and size of the abdomen. Another common folk myth that states that if the belly is high and round, like a ball, then there will certainly be a boy. This may sound scientific, however, no one can tell the sex of a baby from its mother's belly. Shape and size are more related to genetic predisposition, number of pregnancies and pre-conception weight;
- baking soda test. It allegedly tests the acidity of the urine, which, according to supporters, is related to the sex of the fetus. To do this, you need to mix the mother's urine with baking soda. If the mixture starts to sizzle and bubble, then the baby will be male. If there is no reaction, then it is female. It might sound like a valid claim as well. However, it doesn't work. The acidity of urine has nothing to do with the sex of the future child. The level of urine acidity is influenced by the degree of hydration of the body, a constant diet, sports and physical activity. And not the sex of the baby in the belly;
- time of conception. According to ancient Chinese information, the age of the mother and the month of conception affects the sex of the child. Some myths say that conception in odd months will give a woman, and in even months, a man. The season also matters. One 2003 study involving 14,000 babies found that boys were more likely to be successful in the fall and girls more often in the spring;
- ring test. You need to take the ring and hang it on a string over the belly. According to legend, if the ring rotates in a circle, then there will be a boy, if from side to side, then a girl;
- male partner weight. Another myth is about a parent who is not pregnant. If he significantly gains weight during the pregnancy of his partner, then a boy will be born. And if not, then a girl will be born. There is no medical or scientific evidence linking a partner's weight gain to the sex of a child. However, it happens that the husband gets fat or feels nauseous, just like the wife. This condition is known as Couvade syndrome;
- food preferences. The desire to eat a lot is a well-known sign of all pregnant women. According to the method, certain taste preferences may indicate the presence of a boy or girl in the stomach. Sweet and dairy - girl. Salty and spicy - boy. However, research does not support such points;
- emotional swing. A well-known statement says that strong mood swings in a woman are associated with a female fetus, and a calm emotional state shows that there is a boy inside. It can be assumed that the level of estrogen will be higher when the fetus is a girl, and testosterone - when a boy. But this is not true. Although hormones affect the mood of all people, their levels do not depend on the sex of the fetus. The hormones in the amniotic fluid are by no means the same hormones found in the mother's blood. Mood swings during pregnancy are common;
- features of appearance. Folk omens say that if a woman has dull hair and oily skin, then she will have a girl. Acne on the face is the same evidence of the presence of a female fetus. And some argue that the girl's parents have a kind of "special glow" on their faces. These theories are in no way supported by science, but they continue to exist.
All programs IVF at Feskov Human Reproductive Group necessarily imply a procedure for genetic screening of the embryo, during which future parents can also find out the gender of the baby. However, this is a private matter for each of the partners in the couple.
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