As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test and start noticing early pregnancy symptoms, you probably have one burning question: “Am I having a boy or a girl?” You’re not alone either! There are tons of gender prediction tests out there, and you might even peruse them for signs you’re having a girl. But be warned: many of these “tests” are no more than old wives’ tales but they are fun (and help the time pass until you know for sure!). If you simply can’t wait to find out baby’s sex, read on to find out:
When is Baby’s Sex Determined?
By the time your pregnancy test pops up as positive, the sex of your baby has already been determined. In fact, your baby’s sex is determined at the exact moment of conception—even though baby doesn’t have distinguishing genitals yet! The sex is determined through DNA, when the egg is fertilized by either the Y sperm (which produces a boy) or the X sperm (which produces a girl).
Let’s unpack that with a super quick biology lesson: All eggs carry the X chromosome, but sperm can carry the Y or X chromosome. When the egg and sperm meet, you can get one of two combinations:
- XY: a baby boy ?
- XX: a baby girl ?
When Do You Find Out the Sex of Baby?
But when can the proud parents find out if baby is a boy or a girl? Distinguishing genitals—i.e. the clitoris or the penis—start to develop around week nine of gestation—that’s week 11 of pregnancy. (You can learn more about what’s happening with baby’s development by checking out our Week-By-Week Pregnancy Guide.)
The earliest parents can find out the sex of the baby is around week 10 through an early blood test like MaterniTi. Otherwise, most parents find out the baby’s sex during the anatomy scan, a.k.a. the 20-week ultrasound.
Until then, parents (and grandparents, and aunts, and uncles) have a lot of fun speculating whether baby is a boy or girl. Here, some common theories about baby’s sex:
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Signs You’re Having a Girl
If you’re ready to learn the signs you’re having a girl, this guide lists them all. But don’t run out and paint the nursery pink just yet; most of these aren’t definitive.
1. Morning sickness
The myth: For years, women have sworn that the worst cases of morning sickness occurred during girl pregnancies, but is that true?
The verdict: Neither scientific studies nor anecdotal evidence prove that mamas with girl pregnancies have worse morning sickness. Plenty of nauseous mamas have welcomed little boys. However, there may some truth in this myth in regards to hyperemesis gravidarum. A 1999 study published in the Lancet noted mothers with hyperemesis gravidarum were more likely to be carrying girls. This could be due to higher levels of hCG, the pregnancy hormone, or higher female hormones like estrogen or progesterone.
2. Belly shape
The myth: If you carry high or if you gain weight all over, then a baby girl is on the way.
The verdict: Ultimately, belly shape has more to do with mama’s body shape and the number of babies on board than baby’s sex. For instance, a shorter mama has nowhere to expand but out. On the other hand, a taller mama may not “pop” as soon. (Read more about when you start to show here.) Other factors that affect belly shape include: how much amniotic fluid is present, where the placenta is located, how much weight is gained, and mama’s pre-pregnancy shape.
3. Food cravings
The myth: “Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.” You’ve heard that saying right? Well, it also coincides with another myth: If you crave all the sweets, you’re pregnant with a little girl.
The verdict: As it turns out, your cravings can tell you some helpful information—just not what sex your baby is. Depending on what you’re craving, you might be able to learn a little bit about what your body is craving. For instance, if you are craving ice cubes, your iron levels may be low; if you are craving chocolate, you might be craving magnesium. (source, source). If your sweet tooth is as big as your expanding belly, then you might be craving sleep, believe it or not! (source)
4. Oily skin
The myth: Over the years many have uttered this not-so-factual statement: “Little girls leave their mothers with acne and oily skin because they steal their beauty.”
The verdict: There is no beauty-stealing going on, and this isn’t one of the more reliable signs you’re having a girl. Skin changes during pregnancy are 100 percent related to mama’s hormone levels. Having said that, girl pregnancies can result in higher levels of circulating estrogen (source), which could cause more acne. You can learn more about pregnancy and oily, acne-prone skin here.
5. Mood swings
The myth: According to the myths, if you’re pregnant with a baby girl, you can expect to have much more dramatic mood swings than if you were pregnant with a baby boy.
The verdict: Just like oily skin, your mood swings are affected by the ever-increasing hormones that are needed to sustain your pregnancy. It is true that in one study, estrogen levels were higher and progesterone levels were lower in girl pregnancies so this could potentially affect mood. However, other studies dispute hormonal differences between boy and girl pregnancies.
6. Urine color
The myth: You may have heard that clear or dull urine is one of the signs you’re having a girl.
The verdict: False! Your urine color does in fact tell you a lot about your health, but it does not indicate the sex of your baby. Clear or dull urine is most often due to proper hydration. Dark, odorous urine is often a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. And although some say urine pH is a reliable predictor of baby’s sex (more acidic urine means a baby girl), your urine’s pH can be altered by foods, supplements, and medications. Unfortunately, this means the baking soda test is unreliable. Read more about this method of gender prediction here.
7. Linea nigra
The myth: Linea nigra, or “dark line,” is the pigmented line that extends down the center of most pregnant women’s bellies. If the line stops abruptly at the belly button, word is you can expect a girl.
The verdict: Although the old wives’ tales say that a linea nigra that stops at the belly button is one of the signs you’re having a girl, it just isn’t true. Linea nigra is a skin change that is caused by the an increase in melanin production—not the sex of your baby. (source)
8. Heart rate
The myth: One of the most exciting parts of all of those prenatal appointments is the ability to hear your precious baby’s heartbeat. Usually your OB or midwife lets you know your baby’s heart rate (to make sure it falls within the normal range), but this little piece of data is often used to predict the sex of the baby. Supposedly, girls have higher heart rates than boys while in utero. Is it true?
The verdict: This one is halfway true. A normal fetal heartbeat during most of pregnancy ranges from 120 to 160 bpm, though it slows slightly just before birth. (source) During labor, girls do tend to have higher heart rates, so if you’re waiting until birth, that could tip you off before you get to meet baby! During pregnancy, however, the heart rate is much more indicative of gestational age. In fact, this study provides evidence that heart rate in the first trimester and sex simply are not linked. That said, I find that some midwives use this as an indicator and many moms swear by it.
9. Dreams or intuition
Have you had a dream that you’re having a baby girl? Or maybe you can just feel it in your gut? Believe it or not, these feelings can be more reliable signs you’re having a girl than anything else on this list. ?(Read more about pregnancy dreams—and their meanings—here.)
Convinced Baby is a Girl?
So what if these old wives’ tales aren’t reliable indicators?! They’re tons of fun, and can make the wait (whether that’s for the anatomy scan or for the day you give birth) a little easier.
How About You?
Were any of these signs you’re having a girl true for you? Did you correctly guess your baby’s sex?