Some parents-to-be decide to wait until the birth of their baby to find out the gender. But if you are not so into surprises, or not so patient, then you might not be one of them.
Discovering your baby’s gender during pregnancy is a personal choice, and often new Moms feel that knowing in advance will mean they can prepare more fully for the new arrival.
But how early can you find out the gender of your baby?
Are sex and gender the same thing?
And are all the gender tests 100% accurate?
A Quick Note on Sex and Gender
When we talk about gender prediction in pregnancy we should really use the term sex rather than gender because we want to find out the baby’s biological sex – what kind of anatomy they have.
Gender is a social construct or internal sense of who you are.
But because gender prediction and gender testing are the more commonly used terms we will use those throughout this article.
So now we’ve cleared that up, here are the methods available for determining an unborn baby’s gender, so that you have the information you need to approach this very personal decision with confidence.
1. Ultrasound Scan
An ultrasound is the way that most expectant parents discover their baby’s gender.
It’s a non-invasive scan which is given with the purpose of checking the health and development of the growing fetus.
An ultrasound when you are between 18 and 22 weeks pregnant can also enable the technician or physician to identify your baby’s gender, because at this stage of pregnancy a number of signs may show clearly on the scan.
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to determine the gender of a baby via ultrasound.
If baby is in a position which means the technician can’t get a good view, or if the scan takes place too early or too late in pregnancy, the results might be inconclusive.
If your technician is unsure, they will not tell you the gender of your baby. But although mistakes are rare, they do happen — ultrasounds can not give a 100% definite prediction of a baby’s gender.
2. Blood Screening
Maternal blood screening tests are relatively new in terms of mainstream medical use.
These tests, such as the Harmony and MaterniT21, analyse DNA from the baby found in the mother’s blood.
This means that a sample of blood is taken to be tested, making it a safe procedure posing no risk to an unborn baby.
Blood screening is used to test for genetic abnormalities, but can also accurately determine a baby’s sex early in pregnancy — from around 9 weeks.
At present, these tests are not routinely given to healthy pregnant women, but are offered to those who have certain risk factors for genetic issues, including new Moms over the age of 35 or with complicated medical histories.
Any woman can request a blood screening test but do be aware that not all medical insurance policies will cover the cost.
Some home-testing kits are now available to buy, such as the Sneak Peak Early Gender Test.
This involves taking a small finger-prick blood sample at home and sending it off for analysis at a laboratory; and then you will receive results by email.
3. Genetic Testing
Genetic testing methods called Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) are also frequently used to check a baby’s health, and just as with blood screening, the results include accurate information regarding whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
They are invasive tests; a long needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen to collect a sample of DNA from tissue inside the uterus. Because of this, there is a small risk of miscarriage associated with the procedure.
This means that this type of test will never be given just to find out the sex of a baby, and will only be offered if there are risk factors which cause concern for baby’s genetic health.
If you have found out the sex of your baby and feel sad about it, don’t worry — and don’t feel guilty.
It is rarely discussed, but many people experience disappointment when their baby’s sex is not what they expected.
It’s normal and it absolutely does not make you a bad Mom!
Gender disappointment can happen for lots of different reasons.
If you are struggling with this, it’s important to find someone to talk to so that you can express your emotions and move on with your pregnancy.
Whether you’re filled with joy from the moment you find out your baby’s sex, or whether it takes you a little longer to get your head around this new discovery, remember to take some quiet time to let it all sink in.