Boy or Girl? Gender-Guessing Myths and Facts


Published:

Photo courtesy of Absfree/Shutterstock.com

We really can't help ourselves; the sight of a pregnant woman automatically makes us fast-forward to one question: boy or girl?

Beware, pregnant moms. From the moment you tell your friends or begin showing signs of a wee baby bump, the congratulations you receive will be uttered in the same sentence as, "Are you having a boy or girl?" Occasionally, even the due date takes a backseat to the baby's sex.

Perhaps this is our desire to envision a complete little person before the birth, a need to begin attributing characteristics, consider names, and find the perfect blue booties or pink layette. Sometimes curiosity about a baby's gender leads to some gender-guessing games that may have moms-to-be wondering: Is there any truth to those old wives' tales?

We asked the experts to weigh in on a few popular myths and provide the facts.

MYTH: Baby girls' heart rates are faster than boys' heart rates.

"Heartbeats for both sexes can range from 110 to 160 beats per minute in the third trimester," says Dr. Kelly Leggett, the medical director at the Women's Hospital of Greensboro. In fact, anywhere within that range is considered a normal heartbeat for both boys and girls.

"This is the most common method my patients inquire about in the office," says Dr. Aviva Stein, an OB-GYN at Charlotte Obstetrics & Gynecology. "Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated over the last few decades that there is no link between fetal heart rate and baby's gender. In fact, the fetal heart-rate baseline tends to change throughout the nine months."

MYTH: Carrying your baby high indicates a boy, while carrying low means you're having a girl.

Every woman's body is unique, and the same goes for her abdominal musculature and pelvic inlet (how the baby is sitting in the pelvis). According to Leggett, "Your body shape and your musculature determine how the baby is carried."

Multiple pregnancies can change musculature, and the more babies a woman has, the more she might protrude, versus carrying high.

"Whether you are carrying your baby low or high is based on the position of the baby," says Dr. Melvin Seid, an OB-GYN with Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates of Winston-Salem. Positions can change throughout the pregnancy.

"The way that you carry your baby has more to do with your parity status (the number of times you've given birth) and the muscle and tone of your uterus," Stein says.

So, although it's a fun guessing game, low babies and high babies give clues to mom's body shape, not the sex of the baby.

MYTH: Suspending a gold wedding ring (or needle) from a necklace or string over a pregnant mom's belly will predict the baby's sex by the way the ring swings; circular motions for a girl, back and forth for a boy.

"This is really like picking a lottery number," Leggett says. "It's all cute and fun and a nice game to play at your baby shower, but there is absolutely no scientific data to support that claim."

So mothers, don't worry about testing your electromagnetic field while pregnant!

MYTH: If your body hair or nails grow faster during your pregnancy, you're having a baby boy. If hair and nails grow slower, you're carrying a girl.

While pregnant women carry an abundance of beta-HCG (pregnancy hormone), hair and nail growth are not clear indicators of a baby's gender. "Your age will affect your hair texture more than your pregnancy," Leggett says. Hormone levels between boy and girl babies are not sufficient to make any noticeable changes to the mother's body.

"Normally, a woman loses about 100 hairs a day as part of hair growth's natural cycle," Stein says. "During pregnancy, regardless of baby gender, the hormone estrogen prolongs the pregnant woman's hair-growth phase, resulting in less shedding of hair. After delivery, don't be alarmed if your hair may fall out as you return to the normal growth/resting phases. You should return to your pre-pregnancy hairline within one year of giving birth."

MYTH: You are more likely to experience severe morning sickness if you are carrying a girl.

Severe morning sickness does not, as some claim, indicate you're carrying a baby girl, Leggett says. "The hormone we attribute nausea to is the beta-HCG, and it does not determine the sex; for example, if you have twins, you have more beta-HCG and could have elevated nausea, but nausea does not tell us what the gender is, regardless of the levels of beta-HCG."

MYTH: Moms crave sour and salty foods with a baby boy and sweet foods with a baby girl.

False yet again, Leggett says with a laugh. "I wish the science was that easy, but it isn't, so eat whatever sounds good!" Stein agrees. "Your cravings have more to do with a combination of nutritional and psychological needs."

MYTH: Testing a pregnant woman's urine with 2 tablespoons of Crystal Drano will tell you the sex. If the mixture darkens to a brownish color, it's a boy. If it doesn't darken or there is no color change, it's a girl.

We are not advising this test in any way. "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that this method works," Stein says. "In addition, there may be dangerous side effects from the fumes that are produced when mixing urine and Drano. I strongly discourage you to try this method. If one still wishes to use this method, by all means, do not handle the mixture yourself."

REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

"I hate to burst one's bubble," says Dr. Ann Stein, an OB-GYN, "but the most common way to detect the sex of your baby is with an ultrasound, which, generally speaking, is over 90 percent accurate if done after 16 weeks gestation. A very reliable way to tell the sex of your baby is through genetic testing in the form of a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) between 10-13 weeks gestation or amniocentesis done after 15 weeks. The sole purpose of these tests is to diagnose a potential problem with your baby like an anatomical variation, not for gender determination."

Seid mentioned a test called the Sensage Fetal XY test, which can be conducted as early as 11 weeks into the pregnancy. The test involves drawing a sample of the mother's blood and sending it to a lab where fetal cells are isolated.

"They look at the fetal DNA and determine the sex of the baby with 95 to 99 percent accuracy," Seid says, adding that the downside is that the test is expensive ($250-$350). But for mothers who need to know, and when ultrasound results turn out inconclusive, the Sensage Fetal XY test may be a vital option.

"Chromosomal testing is the only definitive way of determining the baby's sex," says Deb O'Connell, a midwife based in Carrboro, who adds that moms should also pay close attention to their intuition, which is usually right. "In my experience, if a mom has a good instinct about what she's having, she is usually right. She intuitively knows. Nine out of 10 times, the mom is right."

 

Rebekah Cowell is a Chapel Hill-based freelance writer and mother.

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Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park. Ages 6-12. Register online by Dec. 1. Choose course #97272.

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Take part in a 5K, 1-mile fun run and kids' dash. The event benefits St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Cary. Register online.

Cost: $8-$35

Where:
Wake Med Cross Country Course/Wake Med Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Drive
Cary, NC  27511
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Shop more than 100 vendors, enjoy pictures with Santa and raffles prizes, and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Magnet High School, South Campus
8828 Hebron Church Rd.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: GMHS PTSA
Telephone: 919-559-6018
Contact Name: Shanna or Shalon

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Parent and child move from station to station crafting original holiday gifts and treats for friends and family. Work alongside a talented group of Makery Fellows and area artists to create...

Cost: $35/child, $15/adult

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
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Take part in the preschool's annual Breakfast with Santa. Enjoy a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and fruit, as well as photos with Santa and doing Christmas crafts with your kids. Enjoy a...

Cost: $6 in advance, $8 at door. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Windborne United Methodist Church
9121 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Windborne United Methodist Preschool
Telephone: 919.342.6075
Contact Name: Laura Bass
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Join Mrs. Claus for breakfast and a short story. After visiting with Mrs. Claus, enjoy a holiday craft. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919.460.7747
Contact Name: Kathy Burns
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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. Ages 14 and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Create a keepsake gingerbread house. Register online.

Cost: $12/member, $15/nonmember; $20/house

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn, explore and play outdoors while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park
1639 University Dr.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
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Beginner, amateur and advanced BMX riders take part in a competition. Register online. Spectators attend free of charge. Food available for purchase.

Cost: $30-$35

Where:
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
171 Tradition Trail, Ste. 207
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
Telephone: 919-557-8088
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Enjoy an introduction to cloth diapering. This class includes information about types of diapers, accessories, and care of cloth. The class will include handouts to take home so that parents can...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-803-3521
Contact Name: Heather Dickens
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See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
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Make a holiday ornament with the Durham Arts Council.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd., Ste. 132
Durham, NC  27701
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Make memories by creating a gingerbread house with freshly baked gingerbread, handmade icing and candy. This event benefits a community preschool. Register online for either the 11 a.m.-noon...

Cost: $40/house (includes a whole group of family or friends)

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Ginger B. House
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Discover handmade treasures and wonderful treats at this years holiday shopping event of the year. Holiday refreshments will be enjoyed throughout the event. Door prizes will be given out every...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fuquay-Varina Woman's Club House
602 N. Ennis Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Sponsor: Ballentine-Spence House
Telephone: 925-399-1629
Contact Name: Anna Campbell
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This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. TheCoderSchool is joining the global "Hour of Code" movement. Be one of the tens of millions of students around the...

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe
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Visit with Santa at the birth center, and enjoy milk and cookies and storytime. Kids can talk with Santa about their holiday gift wishes. Santa will also be handing out candy canes. All attendees...

Cost: Free

Where:
Baby+Company Cary
226 Asheville Ave Ste 20
Cary, NC  27518
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Ages 6-10 enjoy nature activities and projects. Registration required.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Decorate a gingerbread house. Participants receive an undecorated gingerbread house with royal icing and tasty toppings. Hot chocolate bar included. Ages 4 and older with family.

Cost: $25

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
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Join Wendell Falls for its first Holiday Sip and Shop event, which is free and open to the public. Tour gorgeous model homes while picking up last-minute gifts from a variety of vendors. Tasting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls by Newland Communities
320 Vintage Point Ln
Wendell , NC  27591
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Carolina Ballet gets families into Christmas spirit when one of its principal dancers, Lara O'Brien, reads "The Nutcracker." Ages 4 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Walk through the scenes of Jesus' birth in the maze. Take a flashlight if you plan to arrive after 4 p.m. The event also features Santa, storytime and cookies with Mrs. Claus, crafts and games...

Cost: $10/person at the farm gate. Cash only

Where:
Lazy O Farm
3583 Packing Plant Road
Smithfield, NC  27577
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Sponsor: Lazy O Farm
Telephone: 919-934-1132
Contact Name: Tami Thompson
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Take a hike with park staff to investigate animal lives and adaptations using your five senses. Ages 5 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

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Make creative gifts for friends and family using items found in nature. Enjoy hot chocolate. Ages 6-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register online. Choose course #194798.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-2871
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See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Santa for wagon ride to explore the back roads of the park. Listen to stories and sing Christmas carols. Take a blanket. All ages. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter. Register online.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

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Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

More information

Learn about nature as the sun sets. All ages with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $20/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Rose of Sharon Baptist Church presents "Christmas Plugged," a drive-up, synchronized, Christmas music light show to 90.1 FM. Enjoy  20,000 LED bulbs as they dance to familiar tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
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Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

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Celebrate the 20th birthday of Jellybeans Super Skate Center. Free skating takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Jellybeans Super Skate Center
1120 Buck Jones Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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