Boy or girl? That’s what newly pregnant mamas want to know! Maybe you’ve been keeping a log of gender predictor test results or maybe you just have a countdown until your 20-week ultrasound. In either case, baby’s sex is the question of the moment, and this post will cover the most widely debated signs you’re having a boy, plus the truth on their accuracy.
What Determines the Sex of the Baby?
If your baby is a boy, his penis will start to develop about nine weeks after conception—that’s the 11th week of pregnancy. Although, to be precise, that’s only when the external genitalia form. Your baby’s sex was formed long before week 11; it was determined at the exact moment of conception when his DNA was determined by the fusion of the egg and sperm.
In order for the male sex to be created, a sperm carrying the Y chromosomes fertilizes the egg (which carries the X chromosome). As a result, your boy will have the XY chromosome pair. (A girl would have an XX chromosome pair.)
When Do You Find Out the Sex of the Baby?
So your boy has always been a boy, but when you do you get to find out his sex? If you opt for an early genetic test, such as the MaterniT21, you’ll get information about your baby’s genetics, as well as sex, around 10 weeks. How are these two things linked? This non-invasive blood test looks for chromosomal abnormalities, and because the X and Y are also chromosomes, you’ll get this information in your results.
If you don’t opt for the MaterniT21 test, you can learn the sex of your baby during the 20-week ultrasound, also called the anatomy scan.
While you wait to learn the baby’s gender, you can have fun sorting through these theories.
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Signs You’re Having a Boy
Once you start spotting the early signs of pregnancy, you might start looking into everything as potential signs you’re having a boy. Explore these old wives’ tales, but remember that most of them are just for fun!
1. Morning sickness
The myth: If you have no or minimal morning sickness, it’s one of the more reliable signs you’re having a boy.
The verdict: There is a little science to support this claim. However, the studies all focused on severe morning sickness, also called hyperemesis gravadarum (HG). A 2001 study published in Epidemiology found that women who were diagnosed with HG were more likely to have baby girls than baby boys. This was also corroborated by a Swedish study, a Danish study, and a 2004 Washington University study. However, mamas with morning sickness do have boys, so don’t use this as a definitive sign you’re having a boy.
2. Belly shape
The myth: Carrying low? The myths say this is one of the signs you’re having a boy!
The verdict: Although some mamas swear by this, belly shape is not an indication of baby’s sex. But if you are curious, these things do affect your shape: how much weight you’ve gained, how many babies you are carrying, your pre-pregnancy shape, how toned your ab muscles are, and if this is your first pregnancy or not. Believe it or not, even diastasis recti can affect your belly shape. (Read more about when you start to show here.)
3. Food cravings
The myth: What is mama craving? If she’s craving salty or sour food, then it’s time to welcome a boy. Is she craving meat? It’s a boy!
The verdict: Food cravings do not indicate the sex of the baby, but you still shouldn’t ignore a craving. As it turns out, your cravings can tell you important information about what your body needs. For instance, craving salty foods means that your body is in need of more healthy fats, according to Registered Dietician Taylor Newhouse from Texas A&M School of Public Health. And for the meat? Mama may just need a little more iron in her diet. (source)
4. A big appetite
The myth: If you’re hungry all the time, it’s a sign you’re having a boy.
The verdict: This one is actually plausible! One study of 244 pregnant women in the U.S. found that women carrying boys had a 10 percent higher daily calorie intake than those carrying girls. Mamas pregnant with boys also had an 8 percent higher intake of protein, 9 percent higher carbohydrate intake, an 11 percent higher intake of animal fats, and a 15 percent higher intake of vegetable fats
5. Hair growth
The myth: Long and lustrous locks? It’s one of the more common signs you’re having a boy.
The verdict: Not so fast! You can thank your prenatal vitamins and your hormones—particularly the surge in estrogen—for your lovely locks. If you take a peek at your prenatal vitamins, you’ll see many nutrients (e.g. zinc, biotin, and other B vitamins) that are powerhouses of nutrition for hair and nail health. Your diet also plays a big role in these things. (source) Check out my post on how to have rockstar hair, skin, and nails here.
6. Cold feet
The myth: Got cold feet? It’s one of the signs you’re having a boy.
The verdict: There are actually several causes for cold feet during pregnancy, and no, it doesn’t mean you’re having second thoughts! Cold feet can be caused by poor circulation, neuropathy, hypothyroidism and anemia. (source) If you are at-risk for gestational diabetes, it’s especially important to monitor for any signs of poor circulation to make sure you manage any underlying health conditions during your pregnancy. Of course, cold feet can also just be because it’s winter, your house is cold, or you need to throw on some cozy socks!
7. Urine color
The myth: Dark urine means you are pregnant with a baby boy.
The verdict: As it turns out, your urine can tell you a lot of things. It can tell you if you are ovulating (with an LH strip), it can tell you if you are pregnant (with an hCG test), and it can tell you if you are dehydrated. What it can’t do? Though some say urine pH is a reliable predictor of baby’s sex (more alkaline urine means a baby boy), your urine’s pH can be altered by foods, supplements, and medications. Unfortunately, this renders the baking soda test unreliable. Read more about this method of gender prediction here.
8. Skin condition
The myth: Dry skin means you are carrying a boy.
The verdict: Dry skin does not mean that your baby is a boy, but this is not a symptom to ignore. If you are experiencing all-over dryness, try increasing your water intake. If you already drink eight 8-ounce glasses, aim for 10 glasses. You may also need to hydrate your skin, too. If you experience a dry, itchy belly due to your skin tightening and stretching, try moisturizing with coconut oil.
Note: If your dry, itchy skin is relentless, talk to your doctor about PUPPS or cholestasis, which are pregnancy complications characterized by severe itching.
9. Linea nigra
The myth: Does your linea nigra extend all the way to your rib cage? If so, the old wives’ tales say that it’s one of the signs you’re having a boy.
The verdict: This isn’t a reliable sign you’re having a boy. Linea nigra is just one of many ways your skin is affected during pregnancy. In this case, your hormones (specifically the melanocyte-stimulating hormone) alter the parts of your cells that produce pigment, and as a result, many pregnant women see this line extend across the center of the belly down to the top of the bikini line. Don’t worry about this line! It’s harmless and caused by the same hormones that darken your areolas in preparation for breastfeeding.
10. Heart rate
The myth: If the fetal heart rate is low, it’s one of the signs you’re having a boy.
The verdict: This is a bit misleading because there is much debate about what’s considered low. A normal fetal heartbeat during pregnancy ranges from 120 to 160 bpm, though slows slightly just before birth (it’s still about twice that of the average adult!). (source) Exact heart rate varies from baby to baby, and any changes in heart rate is much more dependent upon gestational age than sex. In fact, this study debunked this myth altogether! However, I find that some midwives use this as an indicator and some moms swear by it.
11. Dreams or intuition
Have you had a dream that you’re having a boy? Or just have a hunch? Believe it or not, these can be more reliable signs you’re having a boy than anything else listed above. ?(Read more about pregnancy dreams—and their meanings—here.)
Convinced You’re Having a Boy?
These old wives’ tales are fun, aren’t they? While not reliable indicators, they can make the wait (whether that’s for the anatomy scan or for the day you give birth) a little more bearable.
How About You?
Were any of these signs you’re having a boy true for you? Did you correctly guess your baby’s sex?