When Can You Find Out the Gender of Your Baby?
Whether for curiosity or planning, many couples find out the sex of their baby during pregnancy. One of the first things a couple often asks is, “Can you tell us the sex of the baby? When can we find out?”
There are several ways this can be done. Two methods put the pregnancy at risk and are only used when a problem is suspected. The third method is the most common and is generally safe for all involved.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Chorionic villus sampling is done between 8 and 13 weeks of gestation. It is held for high-hazard pregnancies where hereditary variations from the norm are exceptionally suspected. The sex of the baby is reported with the test results. This is the earliest the sex can be determined.
Amniocentesis is more common than chorionic villus sampling and can be done as early as 9 weeks, although it is most often done later in the pregnancy. The sex of the baby is reported with the test results.
Ultrasound is most commonly used to determine the sex of the baby. While the sex may be seen as early as 16 weeks, it is typically done during the fetal survey, an exam done between 18 and 22 weeks.
Tradition has provided several methods for determining the baby’s sex at any point in the pregnancy, although these methods are inaccurate. Heart rate is determined by fetal age and activity. Urine color is determined by diet.
How the mother carries is determined by maternal anatomy, where the baby desires to lie and the number of pregnancies the mother has had. Morning sickness varies from pregnancy to pregnancy and shows no trend correlating with the sex of the baby.
Chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis are invasive procedures that put the pregnancy at risk of miscarriage. They should never be done unless absolutely necessary.
Ultrasound follows the exposure guidelines of ALARA, as low as reasonably possible, and should never be done for the sole purpose of checking the sex of the baby.
Chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis have a very low chance for error. Ultrasound has a higher chance for error due to factors such as fetal position and age. It should never be used as for definitive confirmation of the sex of the fetus.