Boy or girl: Myths and realities about the gender of the baby
During pregnancy, the wait to find out the gender of the baby is interminable for many parents. Although a healthy baby is the top priority, people around you may continuously make predictions! Is it better to keep it a surprise or to ask for the gender of the baby on the way? Regardless, there is a lot of information out there about the babies’ genders. Let's demystify what's real and what's not!
When can I find out the gender of my baby?
Between the 8th and 12th week of pregnancy, the genitals form and differentiate between male and female. It is, therefore, impossible to visually determine the gender of the baby before the 8th week of pregnancy because the embryo is simply not developed enough.
During the first ultrasound, the risk of error on the gender of the baby remains high.
The second ultrasound
Around the 20th week of pregnancy, it is finally possible to know the gender of the baby with the help of an ultrasound. In a normal pregnancy monitoring process, it is the 2nd ultrasound that enables a healthcare provider to determine a baby’s gender.
However, it is important to know that the primary purpose of this ultrasound is not to reveal the gender of the child. Rather, it is used to verify the development and health of the baby.
The baby must be willing to show its gender. It is quite possible that the baby is not in the ideal position during the ultrasound and that their gender is not visible on the screen. Maybe the secret will be kept a little longer after all!
Other methods could be used to determine the gender of the child during pregnancy. Prenatal screening usually allows the gynecologist to determine the gender of the baby as early as the 10th or 11th week of pregnancy. However, this test is primarily used to assess chromosomal risks.
You can find out the gender of the baby by performing an amniocentesis, a technique performed between the 14th and 20th week of pregnancy, which consists of taking a sample of amniotic fluid and analyzing the fetal cells. Again, the primary purpose of this procedure is not to reveal the gender of the child—but to assess the risk of chromosomal and genetic abnormalities in the baby.
These two methods will, therefore, generally not be performed during a normal pregnancy follow-up, but rather when the medical team suspects the presence of genetic diseases.
Gender determination: Boy or girl?
The gender of the baby is determined as soon as the sperm fertilizes the egg. The egg carries the X chromosome, while the sperm carries either the X or the Y chromosome.
The spermatozoon is what determines the gender of the baby. If two X chromosomes meet, the baby will be female. The baby will be male if there is an association between an X and a Y chromosome.
Although rarer, your baby's gender may be more ambiguous. Intersex variation is defined as an abnormal development of the genitalia that causes ambiguity in distinguishing male from female. This can be caused by a number of things, including abnormalities in chromosomes and genes as well as diseases or problems in the development of the fetus.
When this happens, further tests, such as clinical exams, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and blood tests, may be performed to determine the child's gender.
On the other hand, since the child's gender identity does not necessarily correspond to their genetic gender, there is no point in proceeding with gender assignment at the infant stage. Eventually, surgery could be performed.
Parents facing this situation can count on a specialized medical team to support them and help them make this difficult decision.
Gender baby beliefs
On a more humorous note, some rather far-fetched tricks, mostly from ancient lore, have often been used to make predictions about the gender of the baby. Although unfounded, these urban legends stimulate discussion among family and friends.
The shape of the belly
A pointed belly would indicate the arrival of a boy, while a round and wide belly would indicate the arrival of a girl.
The position of the baby
A low belly would determine the arrival of a boy, and a high belly would determine the arrival of a girl.
Morning sickness in early pregnancy would indicate the presence of a girl child, and the absence of nausea would indicate the presence of a boy child.
A woman with a sweet tooth would carry a girl, while a woman with a salty tooth would carry a boy.
Of course, it is only at the moment of birth that the real gender of the baby is revealed! Some couples choose to keep the surprise for that big day!
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor or family pharmacist if you have any questions about this topic.
Article written in collaboration with Vie de Parents