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 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…
IT’S PROBABLY A GIRL
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…
NOPE, IT’S A BOY!
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:
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…
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…
IT’S A GIRL
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…
IT’S A TOTALLY EVIL GIRL CHILD, OMG
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!
GIRL. A MOODY ONE.
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…
BOY. OR NEITHER.
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…
GIRL AGAIN. THIS IS STARTING TO GET CREEPY.
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…
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?
ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT THAT MEANS, SORRY.
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…
TENTATIVE BOY? MAYBE?
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.)
DEFINITELY A GIRL
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…