“When can I find out the sex of my baby?” This question is among the first that parents-to-be ask when they are expecting a child. Although there is no shortage of folktales to help you determine if you should buy pink onesies or paint the nursery blue, science has made finding out the sex of your baby a much more accurate and reliable process.
If you have been anxiously awaiting the reveal of your baby’s gender, keep reading: we’ll share with you some of the modern methods that doctors might use to determine it.
First Things First: When to See a Doctor
Before getting into the ways you can determine the sex of your baby, it’s good to review when you should first see your doctor if you think you are pregnant. If your home pregnancy test gives a positive result, schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN as soon as possible to confirm the results and start on your journey towards a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal visits offer you and your baby full support, and they should be done once a month until the 28th week of pregnancy. After this, the frequency should change to twice a month, until you are 36 weeks pregnant. At this point, you should schedule weekly visits until your baby arrives. Your doctor will perform regular checkups and fetal testing to monitor your and your baby’s progress, as well as check for issues that require immediate attention. You will also receive your prenatal vitamins and pregnancy exercise recommendations during these visits.
Methods for Determining Your Baby’s Sex
Your baby’s genitalia will start forming around week 7. However, before the 14th week of pregnancy, most babies look very similar, and your ultrasound technician may not be able to tell accurately if you are carrying a boy or a girl. It is usually not until weeks 18-20 that an ultrasound scan can show more accurate results. However, be sure to mention that you want to know your baby’s sex so your ultrasound technician can look for certain ultrasound signs, such as an erect penis or the absence of a penis.
Keep in mind that even at the 18-20 week point, an ultrasound may not reveal your baby’s gender with certainty—especially if the baby is in a position that obscures their genitalia or if you are carrying twins. In these cases, a second ultrasound may be necessary.
If your prenatal screening tests come up positive for a genetic disorder, your doctor will likely order an amniocentesis (or “amnio”) to confirm these results and test for chromosomal disorders (such as Turner syndrome or neural tube defects). Amnios are usually performed between weeks 15-20 of pregnancy, and with them, a doctor should also be able to determine the gender of your baby. However, these tests unfortunately carry some risks, so you should not have them done for the sake of gender determination alone.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is an invasive diagnostic test in which your doctor removes sample chorionic villi from the placenta and examines them for certain genetic abnormalities, such as cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome. This test can be performed as early as the 10th week of pregnancy.
As with amniocentesis, CVS is usually done if you have tested positive during your prenatal screenings. It can also reveal your baby’s gender with up to 99% accuracy. Much like amnio, however, it also has risks (like uterine infection, or even miscarriage), and it should not be performed merely to determine your baby’s gender.
Cell-free DNA Testing
Starting at the 10th week of pregnancy, your doctor can also order a blood test for chromosomal conditions such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18. During this test, the doctor will look for certain fetal DNA fragments that can point to the presence of abnormal DNA.
Since the DNA being examined also includes your baby’s chromosomes, your doctor will be able to determine the baby’s gender by checking for the presence of the male Y chromosome. If it is absent, your baby will almost certainly be female.
In Vitro Fertilization
If you choose to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), you can find out the sex of your baby as early as the start of your IVF procedure(s). The screening will involve additional costs, but it produces results with 100% accuracy.
Gender Prediction Tests
Finally, while your results may not be as accurate, you can still have some fun by testing out various gender prediction tests. For instance, some have claimed that one sex has a faster heart rate, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. If you wish, you can purchase a gender prediction kit and enjoy using it to guess at your baby’s gender as you wait for the final reveal through any of the methods above or at the birth itself.
Having a baby is one of the most special times in your life, and revealing your little one’s gender can be one of the most exciting moments in the process. To see a doctor about learning the gender of your baby, contact The Woman’s Clinic today at (501) 261-0131 and schedule your appointment.