September 12, 2023

Gender? What is it? Can we predict it? Is it ok to feel sad about it?

“Do you know what you’re having?”

“Are you going to find out?”

“Do you want a boy or a girl?”

How many times have you been asked one of these questions, or another variant of one of them? I know, these questions roll off everyone’s tongues just as easily as the “congratulations!” that come before them.

Among the many exciting milestones of pregnancy, one of the most eagerly anticipated moments for most expecting parents is discovering the gender of their baby. Over 58% of parents choose to find out the baby’s sex before the birth. The gender announcement allows couples and families to begin envisioning their little one’s future and adds a touch of excitement to the pregnancy experience, most people even opt to have a Gender Reveal Party. Whether you chose to reveal it or keep it a secret, how is the gender determined?

The Nitty Gritty

From the moment of fertilisation, your baby’s gender is determined. If an X-chromosome carrying sperm enters the egg (X chromosome), the baby will develop into a female, and if a Y-chromosome carrying sperm enters the egg, the baby will become a male. So ultimately, the answer to the time old question of which parent determines the sex of the baby is in fact, the father, as it is the chromosome of the sperm cell which determines this.

Can We Influence Gender?

There are many old wives tales that suggest you can influence the sex of your baby, from different sexual positions, to what foods to eat, and even what time to have sex, many of these have even been tried and tested by a lot of people, I can assure you and I’m not saying ANY names.. and many of those who have looked into trying to achieve a certain gender will be aware of the Shettles Method and although there is no robust medical evidence to support this that doesn’t stop many of us from attempting them.

In case you didn’t know the Shettles method –

Shettles based his theory on the belief that Y-chromosome-carrying sperm was lighter and therefore could swim faster than  the X-chromosome-carrying sperm, because the X chromosome is larger and contains more genes than the Y. And because X-bearing sperm is larger and “harder,” he summarised, they were more able to survive more acidic conditions, like the conditions of the vagina.

He wrote that having sex in the missionary position with more shallow penetration forces the sperm to travel farther in the acidic environment of the vagina, favouring sperm that would conceive a girl. Alternatively, to conceive a boy, Shettles wrote that having doggy position, encouraging deep penetration, will deposit the sperm closer to the cervix, encouraging male-producing sperm.

Shettles also mentioned which partner orgasmed, and in which order, could affect the baby’s gender. To conceive a girl, Shettles says the male partner should orgasm first, and vice versa if you are trying for a boy. The theory comes down to alkalinity, as Shettles believed female orgasm secretions were alkaline.

Can We Predict It?

Guessing is a lot of fun, let’s face it, we’ve all had people put their opinion out there “i think it’s a girl because..” or “i think its a boy because..” People have theories about where you are carrying, what you are craving and even nipple colour indicate the sex of your baby. Craving salty and savoury foods? It’s a boy. Sweet or fruity foods? It’s a girl.

Carrying lower in your hips? It’s a girl. Carrying higher, like a ball shape? It’s a boy. Darker nipples? It’s a boy. Not much change in colour? It’s a girl. Heart Rate less than 140? It’s a boy. Heart Rate higher than 140? Congratulations, it’s a girl. Is there any truth to any of them? Unfortunately, not really.

For centuries one of the common prediction calculators is the Chinese Gender predictors. The tradition goes back over 800 years and astrologers believe it is the most accurate method. The calculator works by taking the mother’s date of birth and the estimated date of conception or the baby’s due date, then converting the numbers into the mom’s lunar age when she got pregnant and the lunar date of conception. There is no real evidence that the Chinese gender calendars work. The chart isn’t based on science, although, with only two outcomes any unscientific method will be right about 50 percent of the time!

How Early Can Sex Be Seen?

Although there is only 1 method, without intensive diagnostic testing, that is 100% accurate, which is the actual birth, medical ultrasound professionals can determine whether the baby is a boy or girl by looking for the penis. Up until about week 8 of pregnancy, both sexes have what is known as a “genital ridge” , this is an identical primary set of genitalia that will, with further development, differentiate to become either male or female sex organs. Gender can be determined through ultrasound as early as week 16 of pregnancy, although we recommend waiting until week 18-20 as at this stage the genitals are fully developed and results are more accurate.

What if I Wanted a Girl/Wanted a Boy?

Not everyone has a preference, and if you haven’t or don’t, great! But if you do? That’s also okay too. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. A lot of people have a preference and it’s a 50:50 chance whether you get that preference or not. Many people experience mild to extreme disappointment when they find out the gender is not what they had hoped for. If you are experiencing gender disappointment give yourself time to process and seek counselling if you feel that you are unable to bond with your baby. Although your future family might look a little different than you had originally planned, there’s no reason that joy and love can’t still be a part of it!

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