After finding out that you’re pregnant, you’re probably anticipating the discovery of your baby’s sex / gender. Are you wondering if your baby will be a boy or girl? Here’s how and when can you find out gender of your baby.
Baby gender and sex: What’s the difference?
Sex and gender are often used interchangeably, but these two related terms have their own differences. Sex refers to the biological sexual orientation of your baby while gender is a term that’s often considered to be more complex. That being said, it is more appropriate to use the term of the baby’s sex when we are referring to whether it will be a boy or girl – dependent on its biological characteristics.
When can you find out the sex of the baby?
The sex of your baby is often determined via ultrasound that is usually scheduled at around 18 to 21 weeks of pregnancy.
An ultrasound examination is a non-invasive procedure that is routinely done to assess the general health of pregnant women and their babies. It involves the use of a device that is placed over your pregnant belly. This device is attached to a monitor that will reveal an image of your baby inside your womb. It can also determine the position of the placenta and the approximate volume of your amniotic fluid.
Since ultrasound reflects the image of your baby, it can reveal whether your baby is having a male or a female genital. However, this will depend on the position of your baby by the time the ultrasound is taken. Sometimes, the genitals are hidden if the baby is curling or facing the back, making it harder for your doctor to discover whether your baby is male or female.
Finding out your baby’s sex via ultrasound is not 100 percent accurate. Sometimes, other body parts can be mistaken as the penis, so your doctor may assume that you’re having a baby boy. On some other occasions, the penis is hidden, making it more likely to be assumed that you’re having a baby girl. The accuracy of ultrasound in finding out your baby’s sex usually gets higher as your pregnancy progresses.
What are some other ways to tell the sex of your baby?
Some diagnostic procedures done for pregnant women can also tell whether you’re having a baby boy or girl. However, these procedures can’t be done simply to reveal the gender, and are often advised for high-risk pregnant women only. Some examples are:
Non-invasive prenatal testing or screening
This procedure is done to screen the developing fetus for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome. It can also check for the presence of X and Y chromosomes which are determining the biological sex of your baby.
It involves drawing a blood sample from the mother and checking it for the circulating DNA fragments that comes from the placenta.
Doctors often advise this procedure for women who previously have given birth to a baby with genetic disorder or if you’re giving birth after the age of 35. Usually, it is taken starting from the 10th week of pregnancy when enough circulating DNA are present in the mother’s blood.
In this procedure, a small amount of amniotic fluid is drawn through a fine needle that is inserted into the mother’s pregnant belly. An ultrasound is usually done before and during the procedure to determine the position of your baby, the umbilical cord, and the placenta.
Amniotic fluid cushions your baby from sudden impact and prevents infection. It also contains cells that have shed off from your baby so its sample can be used to test for genetic and metabolic disorders. If you are high-risk for delivering babies with these conditions, an amniocentesis may be advised by your 15th to 20th week of pregnancy.
This procedure may also be advised during the third trimester for pregnancies that are at an increased risk for premature birth. For babies who are expected to be delivered earlier than the usual, amniocentesis can help figure out the maturity of their lungs and their risk of infection.
While it is a diagnostic test for infection, lung maturity, and genetic and metabolic disorders, your baby’s sex can also be detected while undergoing the procedure. However, this procedure has certain risks so it is not advised for women who simply want to know about their baby’s gender.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
In this test, the doctor will withdraw a tissue sample of the chorionic villi. These are the tiny projectile placental tissues that share the same genetic characteristics with your baby. The tissue sample can either be collected through the cervix or through your abdomen depending on your health condition and pregnancy risks.
This procedure is often advised for mothers who have high-risk pregnancies and those who had positive results from non-invasive prenatal screening. It is primarily used to detect genetic disorders like Down’s Syndrome or cystic fibrosis, but it may also reveal your baby’s sex in the process. Though it can provide valuable health information about your baby, this is also coupled with risks.
Early baby gender blood tests
An innovative approach to determine your baby’s sex are these early baby gender blood tests that can be taken from your own home. Basically, you’ll need to purchase a testing kit online, read the manual, take a blood sample as instructed, and then send it back to the laboratory. The result containing the sex or gender of your baby will then be given to you via email.
Companies providing this test claim that this can tell the gender of your baby in as early as 8 weeks of pregnancy, with up to 99 percent accuracy. That’s pretty promising for excited parents who would like to know immediately if they are having a baby boy or girl.
However, it is also worthwhile to consider that taking blood tests at home without professional training and sending these samples via mail are potential factors that may affect the accuracy of the test. The potential for errors and misleading results may be something worth considering, since this test is a bit costly.
How about the old wives’ tales on predicting your baby’s gender?
There are plenty of old wives’ tales that you will hear about predicting your baby’s gender. Some will say that it depends on the shape of your belly, while others may hinge on your baby’s heart rate, or the food that you crave while pregnant. These claims are entertaining and fun to talk about but none of them are backed with research and are not proven to predict your baby’s sex or gender.
Overall, you can find out your baby’s sex or gender from 18 to 21 weeks of pregnancy via an ultrasound that will be scheduled by your doctor. Other procedures may reveal it a bit earlier, but most of them are only advised for high-risk pregnancies and aren’t used to solely determine a baby’s sex. Should you wish to have an earlier hint of your baby’s gender, you may take an early baby gender blood test.
However, remember that none of these are a hundred percent accurate and there’s always a small chance for misleading results. So if you are still at an earlier stage of pregnancy, it will be wiser to stick with some gender-neutral baby bodysuits and accessories for a while. You may consider planning for a gender reveal party once you are on your third trimester, when your baby’s sex can be more accurately determined.