If you’re pregnant, you might be one of the approximately 50 to 70% of mums-to-be who want to find out the sex of the baby before it’s born.
Thankfully, in the 21st century, we have ultrasounds that are common-place, and you can usually find out the gender, if you are so inclined, when you do your 18-week scan. While it’s rare for ultrasound technicians to get the sex wrong, it does happen sometimes.
Ask around, everyone knows someone who knows someone who’s sister’s friend’s neighbour had this happen to.
Spare a thought for women in times gone by who didn’t have access to ultrasounds (or even women on internet forums who are impatient and aren’t 18 weeks yet) who had to resort to these unusual and not-so-accurate ways to determine whether they were having a boy or a girl. Quite often they may as well have done eeny-meeny-miny-mo.
1. Chinese Gender Charts
Said to be more than 700 years old and 90% accurate if you use them properly, the Chinese gender charts will determine if you’re having a boy or a girl based on the month of conception and your age when you conceived – both expressed as dates in the Chinese lunar calendar. Many mothers who have used these charts swear by it. In the interests of science, I found an online Chinese gender calculator and applied it to my three children, who are all girls. I guess two out of three ain’t bad: it predicted two would be girls and one would be a boy.
2. The Way You Sway
According to the Distaff Gospels – a dodgy collection of Medieval women’s medical “knowledge” – the way you walk when you’re pregnant can determine the gender of your unborn child. If you walk with your right foot first, you’re going to have a boy. If it’s left foot first, then it’s a girl.
3. How you are carrying your bump
Nothing made me roll my eyes more than this one from well-intentioned believers in old wives’ tales when I was pregnant. I repeat, I had three girls. Every bump was different. But people will tell you if you’re carrying high, it’s a girl, or carrying low, it’s a boy. They may also say if you carry in front, it’s a boy, if you carry horizontally, it’s a girl. Look, at least half of the time, they’re probably right.
4. Baby’s Heart Rate
Another old wives’ tale is that boys and girls have different heart rates while they are in the womb. This theory says that babies with a heartbeat under 140 beats per minute will be a boy and one with a heartbeat of more than 140 beats a minute is a girl.
Unfortunately, this theory lacks any scientific evidence whatsoever and a study has found there is no correlation between the gender of the unborn baby and its heart rate.
5. The Salt Test
Those crazy Medieval Distaff Gospels strike again. They made the claim that if you sprinkle salt on a pregnant woman’s head while she is sleeping (gently so that she is unaware of it) make a note of whatever name she says first when she wakes up. If she says a man’s name, it will be a boy, and if she says a woman’s name, it will be a girl.
6. Clues on your body
Old wives reckon that if you’re having a girl, she’ll “steal your beauty” – so if you’re looking a bit tired, puffy and, you know, pregnant, then it’s a girl. If you are experiencing dry hands and cold feet, supposedly you’re having a boy.
7. Wedding Ring Test
This one is wildly popular, and also wildly inaccurate. I can confirm this one doesn’t work. Three pregnancies that produced three girls… three times the ring test told me I would have boys. Anyway, if you’re pregnant, there’s every chance some woman you work with or a friend will try to get you to do it, and if you’re unaware of it, it goes like this: thread a wedding ring onto a thread, necklace, ribbon, piece of hair etc. You then hold the dangling ring over the pregnant woman’s belly while she is lying down. If the ring swings backwards and forwards like a pendulum, she’s having a boy. If it swings in a strong circular motion, it’s a girl. There’s zero science to back this up, unsurprisingly.
8. Morning Sickness
According to old wives’ tales, if you’re sicker in the first three months of pregnancy, you’re likely to be having a boy, while a boy will continue to cause you grief beyond the first trimester. However, scientists have found that pregnant women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum – extreme morning sickness – throughout their pregnancies, are more likely to have girls than boys.
9. The Drano test
This one is petty dumb for lots of reasons, but it persists and involves using crystal Drano – a harsh chemical that is used to clean drains with. Supposedly, if you combine the Drano with a small amount of the pregnant woman’s urine in a jar, there will be a chemical reaction. If the mixture turns dark brown, that means a boy is on the way. If it doesn’t change colour, it’s a girl. Whoever dreamt this up must have been crackers. While it sounds like it might have some science to it because you’re basically carrying out a home chemistry experiment, the reality is that many studies have failed to find a chemical in maternal urine that interacts with Drano to accurately predict gender. Aside from that, the fumes from the mixture are toxic and could be dangerous for both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
10. What you’re craving
Supposedly, if you are craving sweet foods, it’s a girl, because girls are naturally sweet (aww stereotypes are so awesome aren’t they?). But boys are all snips and snails and puppy dog tails, so they make you crave sour and salty foods.
11. The key test
Another one of those weird tests using inanimate objects: place a key in front of a pregnant woman and ask her to pick it up. If she picks it up at the narrow end, she’s having a girl. If she picks it by the round part, she’s having a boy.
12. Has Dad put on weight?
There’s a myth that says if the father of the unborn baby gains weight during the pregnancy, then she’s expecting a girl.
This one might have something to it: Danish researchers studied 100 fathers-to-be and found that those who had girls were heavier when they were born than those who had boys.