Pregnant women throughout the centuries have longed to find ways to answer this question, and only in recent generations has it been possible to receive a definitive answer, despite numerous myths and tales passed down through time. Science has not proven any of the myths about determining a baby's gender to be correct, and- of course- it's important to remember that any prediction method will be correct about 50% of the time.
Here are some of the more unusual myths about predicting a baby's gender that have been widely circulated in the past:
- Carrying the baby "high" signals a girl, while carrying "low" means it's a boy. In reality, the appearance of a pregnant woman varies widely, depending upon her body type and the stage of pregnancy. It's not possible to determine a baby's sex from the appearance of the mother's abdomen.
- A male fetus will cause the hair on the mother's legs to grow faster, while a female fetus will not. In reality, the fetus does not make enough hormones to influence mother's hair growth in this way.
- Dull-colored urine means a woman is carrying a girl; bright colored urine means it's a boy. The baby's sex does not influence urine color at all. Urine color is dependent on the mother's degree of hydration and occasionally upon consumption of certain foods.
- Male fetuses have higher heart rates than female fetuses. A fetus' heart rate varies according to its age and degree of movement; studies have failed to show any conclusive evidence that allows heart rate to predict gender.
- Mixing a pregnant woman's urine with Drano will result in color changes that signal the baby's gender. Again, this is completely false (in addition, you are exposing yourself and your unborn baby to a toxin).
- Craving sour foods or salty foods means you are carrying a boy; craving sweets means it's a girl. Pregnant women may crave any type of foods, and there is no evidence to link particular cravings with the baby's gender.
Facts about determining your baby's gender
Ultrasound examinations, considered safe for mother and fetus, can often reveal a baby's gender. They are up to 90% accurate in visualizing the gender of the fetus when the exam is performed after the 16th week of gestation, and is considered to be a non-invasive test. However, invasive tests such as sampling of fetal tissue, either through chorionic villus sampling done at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy or amniocentesis performed later, can verify the gender of the baby with 100% accuracy. Invasive tests are not without risks, so they are typically done to address other concerns, and not simply performed just to get an accurate answer about the sex of the baby.
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology