One of the most exciting things about my pregnancy was learning whether we were having a boy or a girl. I was looking forward to not calling the baby an “it” anymore. To find out the gender made everything feel more real, especially since my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for more than two years. It was no longer just two lines on a pregnancy test; there was an actual live fetus. And we could finally give the baby a name if we wanted.
I also wanted to buy as many things as possible for the nursery and build a wardrobe, all the fun stuff. But ironically, after I found out my baby’s gender, not only did I find out how weirdly gendered everything is — like a gendered butt spatula, “pink for girls!” — but I learned a lot about how I wanted to raise my kid, by letting them lead the way and decide what they liked or disliked, regardless of their anatomy.
My Experience Finding Out
Knowing my baby’s gender made pregnancy go by faster for me. I could dream about what kind of parent I’d like to be and what I’d teach my kid. If we were having a girl, I decided, everything wouldn’t be pink, and I wouldn’t dress her in frilly stuff. If I had a boy, there would be no T-shirts with “Mommy’s little heartbreaker” on there and no football jerseys until he was older and decided he liked football. Gender neutral all the way. It turned out I was having a boy, and my husband and I were shocked yet elated. We felt we would be better “girl” parents before I got pregnant. Now that he’s here and he’s four years old, we are most definitely boy parents. Bring on the dinosaurs and monster trucks.
We found out his gender when I was just 10 weeks along using Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) because I was a high-risk pregnancy, but there are so many different options to find out your baby’s gender now, including these super fun old wives’ tales and a Chinese gender calendar. There’s a 50/50 chance they’ll be right, so there’s no harm in trying. They may work. But you’ve got options if you don’t want to try to guess based on the shape of your bump or if you’re craving sweet or salty. Or based on your morning sickness, the way your skin feels, the length of your linea nigra, the color of your urine, or how your hair looks.
Here are some more scientific ways to find out your baby’s gender:
While several ultrasounds occur during your pregnancy to check the fetus’ growth and ensure things are running smoothly4, you can find out your baby’s gender in the second trimester, usually during your 20-week anatomy scan, when you can see details of your baby’s anatomy.
However, the accuracy of the discovery increases the longer you wait to find out. According to WebMD, the accuracy can vary from 70.3% at 11 weeks to 98.7% at 12 weeks and 100% at 13 weeks.5
However, if you decide to try at about 12 weeks, there’s something called the “nub theory.” 6 A nub, called the genital tubercle, grows between your baby’s legs around 11 to 13 weeks. If the nub is pointing toward the baby’s head, it indicates a boy. If it remains flat or points down, it’s a girl.
Prenatal Genetic Testing
This test is done primarily to rule out certain genetic diseases1, whether a baby is at risk of Down syndrome or has extra sequences of certain chromosomes.2 A prenatal cell-free DNA screening, or cfDNA, is a blood test that looks at the fetus’ DNA in the mother’s bloodstream. Some forms of this type of screening can also provide information about your baby’s gender.
At one time, amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling would allow you to determine the baby’s gender. But these tests were incredibly invasive, and the Centers for Disease Control issued a report in the 1990s that linked these tests to possible birth defects.7
Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT)
I had this test done, but it, unfortunately, can be quite cost-prohibitive. Insurance may cover it if you’re a high-risk pregnant person like me. Like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, this test checks for genetic issues. These include chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome or clinical implications such as a nonviable pregnancy or a newborn with a life-limiting condition.3 NIPT is done with a blood test, which can determine the sex of your baby as early as 10 weeks. It extracts fragments of the baby’s DNA circulating in the pregnant person’s blood. These fragments (XX or XY chromosomes) determine the gender.
If you’re the adventurous type and knowing the gender early is more for entertainment, you could try one of the many at-home testing kits on the market. You order a kit from a company and follow the instructions to collect your sample and mail it to the company’s lab. Your report and sample analysis will often come back within days, either by email or SMS.
Some of the more popular ones you’ll find online include:
- SneakPeek: They claim you can test at six weeks with 99.9% accuracy. However, you need to follow the directions perfectly and know a few people who have gotten the wrong result
- Peekaboo Early Detection Gender DNA test: They claim you can test at seven weeks with 99.5% accuracy
- Gender Predictor: They claim you can test at five weeks but say the test is for entertainment purposes only and do not guarantee their results. You can purchase it on Amazon here.
If you have the patience of a saint or love a surprise, waiting to find out the gender until your baby is born may be right for you. I couldn’t do it with my type A planner personality. However, I know of a few moms who found out once they were born, making the day much more special. What a surprise to an already incredibly exciting and life-changing day.
No matter how you choose to learn your baby’s gender, it can be a fun and exciting time. Now go and buy all the pink butt thermometers or blue bottle sterilizers. Or start thinking about baby names and go the gender-neutral route. Your pregnancy, your baby. Have fun and good luck!