can old wives tales really predict the sex of a baby

Can old wives tales really predict the sex of a baby?

As I mentioned in my most recent pregnancy diary, this week is a big one for me, in that it’s the week of the all-important mid-pregnancy scan. OMG!

Now, I just want to say here that I’m well aware that the purpose of this scan is to check for any potential problems with the baby’s health, rather than to tell us whether it’s a boy or a girl, and obviously the health of the baby is the only thing that really matters to us: you can take that as read. I’m also well aware that gender is a very loaded subject, and that the baby might not identify with the gender it’s assigned at birth, so I just want to stress that this post is supposed to be lighthearted, and is not in any way an indication that the boy/girl question is remotely important to us – it’s really not!

With that said, as the scan looms closer, it has been the subject of much discussion in the family, and I have to admit that I’m REALLY curious about it, and can’t wait to (hopefully!) find out what we’re having. Today, then, just for fun (and also to help distract me from the looming scan, which I am absolutely TERRIFIED about, seriously…) I thought I’d take a look at some of the old wives tales which claim to predict the sex of a baby, and see what they have to say. Starting off with…

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is (allegedly) caused by little girls, apparently, while boys are kinder to their mothers in utero. My hightly-scientific study of friends and family members tells me this is utter rubbish, but for the sake of argument, yup, I had pretty bad morning sickness in the first trimester, therefore…


Craving sweet things = girl; salty = boy

I totally lost interest in anything sweet for the duration of the first trimester: these days I can eat them again, but – and this is very, very odd for me – I don’t really want to. Which means…


Girls steal their mother’s beauty; boys make them “glow”

Once again, baby girls are revealed to be a bunch of little madams, who allegedly “steal” their mother’s beauty: gasp! So, the theory goes that if your skin is breaking out and you look like hell, you can blame your future daughter for that, whilst if you have that legendary pregnancy “glow”, it’s the work of a much nicer baby boy. Now, I have been told I’m “glowing”, but I’m pretty sure it’s just one of those standard Things People Say to Pregnant Ladies things: last week I welcomed four new zits to the party, and I personally think I look haggard as hell, so I’m going to call GIRL on this one.


High vs low

If you’re carrying your bump “high”, it’s a girl, and if it’s a low-slung bump, it’s a boy – or so say those wise old wives, anyway. I’m going to sit this one out because I don’t have enough experience with bumps to know if mine is high or low (and I suspect this one is really supposed to be for later in pregnancy anyway), but for those of you playing along at home, here’s a quick reminder:

Can old wives tales really predict the sex of your baby?05.
Baby’s heart rate

Legend has it that if the baby’s heart-rate is higher than 140 bpm, it’s a girl: lower than 140 means a boy. My midwife measured the heart-rate at 150, which is roughly what’s it’s been every time we’ve measured it ourselves, so…


HCG test

I’m not sure I’d call this one an “old wives tale” exactly, because I don’t know how those crafty old wives would’ve had access to this information, but some studies suggest that high levels of the HCG hormone in early pregnancy mean a girl is on the way. My HCG levels were so high when they were first tested that I was totally convinced the pregnancy was molar (Those were a fun two days, to be sure…): I’ve no idea how accurate this theory is, obviously, but if it’s true, that would suggest…


Partner’s weight gain

The old wives tell us that if your partner gains “sympathy weight” during your pregnancy, it means you’re having a girl. (Girls really ARE pure evil, aren’t they?) He’ll kill me for telling you this, but yup, Terry has gained some weight (although not as much as I have, obviously), so…


Moody or chill?

You can guess which way this is going to go, can’t you? Yes, true to form, it’s said that girl babies make their mothers moody, while boys chill her the hell out. Me? I AM NOT FREAKING MOODY! WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME MOODY? OMG, I HAAAATE YOU!


19 week baby bump

The ring test

I’m just going to pause here for a second to reflect on the fact that I actually got up off my ass and strung my wedding ring through a piece of thread to conduct this stupid “experiment”. WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME? I mean, I’ll be telling you all about my horoscope or something next, won’t I? In the interests of, er, science, though, let the record show that when I dangled my wedding ring above my bump, it moved back and forth, like a pendulum – which, say the old wives, means I’m having a boy.

“You better let me do it,” said Terry, who had been watching these proceedings with amusement, “because I’m steady. You’re not steady.” (I mean, WTF? What new kind of insult is THIS?) So, Steady Terry took the ring-on-a-string and held it above my belly… and, sure enough, it remained absolutely still, before eventually starting to twist a bit at the end of the thread. What it did NOT do was to either move like a pendulum (BOY) or swing in circles (GIRL), so, yeah, damned if I know what that means. Going by my own (admittedly non-STEADY) results, though, I’d say…


Limp or glossy?

Did you guess that boys make their mother’s hair thick and glossy, while girls do the exact opposite? You guessed right, folks! And if you ALSO guessed that MY hair has been limp and pathetic for weeks now, then you’re probably guessing that I’m having a…


How hairy are you?

Just to throw a quick spanner in the works, it seems girls DO let their mothers off on one account: it’s said that if you notice more body hair than usual while you’re pregnant, you’re carrying a boy, and if your body hair stays the same, it’s a girl. I’m no hairier than usual, so…


Heartburn or none?

Heartburn means you’re having a girl, apparently… which means it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that I DON’T have heartburn, so, just for a change, this one points to…


baby bump at 19 weeks15.
Left side or right?

Apparently your sleeping position indicates the sex of your baby: sounds legit, yeah? According to the old wives tales, it’s left side for a girl and right for a boy: I’m actually not sure how to call this one, because while I HAVE been sleeping on my left (and always have), since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been having to force myself to STAY on my left, because, for some reason I keep wanting to sleep on my back. The hell?


Cold feet?

If your feet are colder than usual, that’s definitely because you’re having a baby boy: I mean, OBVIOUSLY, right? My feet aren’t any colder than usual, although they ARE often cold, so…


My mother-in-law’s uncanny ability to predict the sex of a baby by looking at the mother’s backside. Yes, you read that right.

True story: for as long as I’ve known her, I’ve thought my mother-in-law was claiming to be able to predict the sex of a baby by looking at the mother’s BUMP. This week I realised she’s actually been saying “BUM” (My mother-in-law is Greek: this kind of thing happens a LOT…). “You’re definitely having a boy,” she told me, “Because you got a bum now, and you no used to have a bum.” (Please read that in a Greek accent to get the full effect.) Then she GRABBED the offending bum. And we were walking down a public street at the time! My nephew Jonathan suggested I call this post, “My Mother-in-Law Groped My Ass,” for this reason. Honestly, I did consider it…

(My MIL would like me to point out that she has made this prediction at an earlier stage of pregnancy than she would ideally like, so she won’t be held responsible for any mistakes. She also informs me that she’s dreamt it’s a boy, though, so it’s totally a boy…)


My dad’s unshakeable conviction that’s it’s totally a girl

“I don’t care about any of this nonsense,” said my dad. “I’m telling you: it’s a girl…” So that’s that, then.

(My mum is 100% sure that it’s either a girl or a boy. She is 100% right about that.)


Mother’s intuition

This actually isn’t a old wives tale either, but I know a lot of women claim to “just know” what they’re having. I, on the other hand, just don’t: as in, I have absolutely zero intuition whatsoever. I do, however, still think it’s most likely to be a boy, given our family history.

Terry’s gut, meanwhile, is telling him it’s a girl, although his head agrees with me that a boy might be more likely. (He still says it’s a girl, though…)

* * *

So, if you believe the old wives tales – and, just to re-iterate, I definitely do NOT – it looks like I’m having a girl… but there’s also a possibility of it being a boy. I, however, set absolutely no store by any of this whatsoever (I suspect there’s a whole lot of confirmation bias that goes on here, and that people who believe in these tales choose only to remember the ones that got it right, and forget about the ones that got it totally wrong), and firmly believe the only way to predict a baby’s sex before birth is by either blood test or ultrasound.. which I’m having TODAY, OMG. Probably as you read this, actually. So if anyone wants to place their bets, now’s the time to do it…

Update? Want to know which old wives tales were right? Either scroll down or click here for the gender reveal!

Can old wives tales really predict the sex of your baby? I put 16 old wives tales to the test....

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  • Best of luck with the scan today, I hope it goes smoothly for you and that you can enjoy seeing your little Amber/Terry jigging about without too much fretting beforehand 🙂

    Just to say that I carried both of my pregnancies exactly the same, felt the same, ate the same etc. Thus, everyone was convinced the second was a girl – it was a boy. Ha! I wonder what the midwives tales tests would have made of that, lol.

    August 14, 2017
  • Exciting!

    August 14, 2017
  • Helen Love


    Can’t wait to hear what the verdict is Amber! Will you share it with us? xxx

    August 14, 2017
  • I think the alternate post title suggestion just made my week 😀 Hope you share the news, because we need to know the result of this highly scientific experiment now!

    August 14, 2017
  • Weirdly enough I’ve heard the opposite re skin and glowing – my mother swears women who break out are having boys because their hormones interrupt your own, which is what happened when she had my brother. But I’m sure the bum test is the most reliable lol.

    August 14, 2017
  • Oh dear, little girls have a lot to answer for! ? Best of luck with the scan – looking forward to your news when you decide to share it. ?

    August 14, 2017
  • G


    Hi Amber,

    This made me chuckle so much – I had all the “girl” symptoms and I found out last week that I’m having a boy!

    Hope your scan goes well and take care! I am loving your blog at the moment as I am at roughly at the same stage as you and it’s good to see someone else having the same feelings. I, however, don’t look as remotely stylish as you. Leggings and fleeces for me for the foreseeable future! 😉


    August 14, 2017
  • The unfortunate myth that carrying girls means havoc for skin and symptoms is definitely an old wives tale, it comes from the Ancient Greeks and Romans who of course had vested interest in encouraging baby boys to be born. Good luck!

    August 14, 2017
  • Flagless


    You can kinda predict it if you know the exact time of conception and how it relates to ovulation. Boy sperms are faster, and girl sperms are more resilient, so the girl ones can remain alive in the woman’s body longer and wait for the ovulation. Boy ones, on the other hand, can reach the egg faster, but are less likely to survive a few days just hanging about if the egg is not ready. That’s why a higher percent of IVF babies are boys, because the doctors make sure to fertilise the egg as soon as it’s ready, and don’t release the sperms first. Those are the basics, anyway, but there are a lot of other factors there as well…

    August 14, 2017
  • Amber DeSadier


    I carried a boy, which means the following did not accurately predict him:

    01. Morning sickness – I was sick my entire first trimester
    02. Craving sweet things = girl; salty = boy – ALL THE SWEETS!
    03. Girls steal their mother’s beauty; boys make them “glow” – My skin was awful. So much acne and rosacea
    07. Partner’s weight gain
    12. How hairy are you? – My hair got so ridiculously thick except on my legs where I basically stopped having any for the whole pregnancy. Wish that had continued.
    13. Heartburn or none?
    16. Cold feet?

    Dont know about 5 or 6 or 10, 15. Cant speak to 17, 18, 19

    The High/low baby position has been correct for all of my friends and myself though. This is more for late second trimester on though.

    August 14, 2017
  • I can’t wait for the grand reveal! And what a fun post to look back on once you have actual science results in hand.

    When my sister-in-law was pregnant. A lot of people, her included, thought it was a boy. I said, nope, it’s a girl. I had no idea of course, but I just had to say different than everyone else. Turns out I guessed right!

    So, I’m going to guess again and put my money on girl. Haha I’ll probably end my streak early on guess #2.

    August 14, 2017
  • Mana


    I’m going with a baby. You’re gonna have a baby that looks a bit like you and a bit like terry and everyone will argue who the baby looks like more. The solid answer I always used is “the baby looks like the baby”

    August 14, 2017
  • AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH, I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!! As you know, we DO know the sex this time; I’ve also gone through the old wives’ tales (in preparation for a blog post, obviously) and they are pointing completely the wrong way this time; last time they were split exactly 50/50. So… if they’re saying girl, I’m betting boy.

    August 14, 2017
  • Veronica Zingarelli


    This post is adorable!

    August 14, 2017
  • Myra Boyle


    I haven’t heard of most of these old wives tales, but when I had my boy I carried low, and with my daughter a lorry driver stopped to offer me a lift and only raced away when he drew level with me as I was sticking out a mile from the side (so I must have had a nice ass lol).

    August 14, 2017
  • Maria


    I have a feeling it might be a girl, I don’t know why… May sound weird, but it’s just my guts telling me it’ll be a girl! Anyway, fingers crossed for the baby to be healthy and all, no matter the sex! Also, I was in tears reading this, honest to god tears; didn’t even know there were so many fables regarding the upcoming sex of the baby! XD And ofc the girl basically is an evil witch that gives her mother all the problems, from back-pain to zits to heartburn to hair limpness and so on, meanwhile a boy is basically a 5 stars spa…

    August 14, 2017
  • Ha, I’m so glad your sense of humor is still intact despite everything you’ve been going through 😀 😀 This post was amazing.

    August 15, 2017
  • So according to those, I’m having a girl. Although I’ve definitely been craving more salty things than sweet. Good luck for the next scan, it’ll be exciting to find out one way or the other!

    August 15, 2017
  • Justina


    I love that your MIL predicts baby sex by looking at butts. She sounds like a riot.
    Boy or girl, I hope the scan goes really well today.

    August 15, 2017
    • Emily


      Hi Justina I’m Emily im 34 weeks pregnant do think im having a boy or girl

      March 24, 2024