We’ve all heard a few old wives’ tales concerning the prediction of gender in a developing fetus. Some say that the position of your belly is an indicator of the gender. If your belly is protruding on the lower side, then it’s a boy, and if it has settled fairly high, then it’s probably a girl. If only it were this easy to tell. Unfortunately, it is not this easy, and now there is proof. When I was pregnant with my two children, I was carrying “high” both times and yet, I have a son and a daughter. If looking at a pregnant woman’s belly forecasts the gender, then we could do away with prenatal studies.
Some people rely on the lunar calendar and still others have come up with the curious baking soda test. While these supposed gender predictors might be fun and grandma might claim to be absolutely sure of their accuracy, these and the location of your belly simply have no correlation with the gender of your baby. Researchers in Australia who had been testing various methods for gender prediction decided to take on the baby bump test. Their test would try to correlate the position of the placenta with gender prediction. Using ultrasound to identify and record the location of the placenta, they observed 277 pregnant women. They found that the rate of males and females born was almost 50-50 and that there seemed to be no connection between the location of the placenta, and gender. Instead, they found that the assessment of the baby’s genital tubercle at 12-14 weeks as a prediction technique was much more useful, with an accuracy rate of more than 85%. This is the tiny little nub that starts to protrude as your baby develops. Doctors have found that the angle of this nub can tell them a great deal about the resulting genitalia.
Although it may be tempting to quote this study to grandma, it is a sad commentary on our culture when we seem to have an insatiable need to identify gender. There really shouldn’t be any need to identify the gender if we are going to treat little girls the same as little boys. But, we don’t. This obsession with trying to identify gender (often leading to feticide in many countries) only underscores the lingering sex discrimination that still exists in the 21st century. What difference does it make whether the growing fetus is a boy or a girl——unless they are going to be treated differently? When someone asks, “Is it a boy or a girl?” They are knowingly or unknowingly perpetuating the idea that one gender is better or worse than the other. We should be asking, “Is the baby healthy?”
The next time people try to tell you that your belly looks like it’s holding a boy or girl, you can simply smile and nod and let them have their fun. Instead, rely on your doctor and hope you have a healthy baby. Even better, leave it up to fate and wait for the surprise.
- Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.