Fitness + Well-being

Can Old Wives' Tales Help Predict the Sex of a Baby?



It's arguably the most famous (and well-dressed) baby bump in the world.

The Duchess of Cambridge stepped out Thursday for her last solo public engagement before giving birth next month.  While it was nice to admire yet another chic maternity outfit as Middleton christened a cruise ship, the real question (of course) is: What is she having??

Whether or not they know what they are expecting, the royal couple is keeping mum. But that's not stopping us from playing the guessing game.

Before the days of sonograms that determine the sex of an unborn child, there were plenty of old wives' tales that mothers-to-be turned to for a hint. From how you're carrying to what you're craving, we asked several physicians (and an expectant mother) to weigh in.

"Most people look at me and guess 'boy' and I think that’s purely based on where I’m carrying and I’m carrying in my stomach," says Ashley Krauss, owner of A Little Something White bridal boutique, who is expecting her second son this summer.  "I think the first time, people thought I was having a boy," adds Krauss, who did not find out the sex of her first baby prior to delivery.

When it comes to how people are carrying, Connecticut-based OB/GYN Shieva Ghofrany has heard it all.

"To be honest, I feel that people are all over the map on this one," she says. "Some say a boy makes your belly more spread out, whereas a girl gives you the bump in front. Yet I've heard people say the exact opposite."

The length of the so-called "linea nigra," or a dark line that can extend from the belly down to the pubic bone in some pregnant women, is also thought to predict the sex of the baby. A longer line supposedly indicates a boy, and a shorter one means you're expecting a girl.

"[I've ] never found this to predict the sex of your baby!" says Sara Gottfried, MD, OB/GYN, and author of "The Hormone Cure."

"The ring on the string is another old trick," says Ghofrany of the technique that involves tying a wedding ring to a string and holding it over your belly. If the string moves in circles, it's a boy, but if it moves back and forth in a line, it's a girl.  

Ghofrany adds that the method sounds "very Ouija board-like."

Another common method is by the baby's heartbeat, with the belief that a girl's heartbeat may be faster than a boy's.

"Totally untrue," says Gottfried. "The baby's heart rate changes during the pregnancy, depending on the baby's age and its movement," she explains. "A study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine [in 1996] dismissed this theory, as has other research. Anything from 120-160bpm is normal for an unborn baby."

Ghofrany adds that even if the theory were true, you'd have to listen to the baby's heart rate for a long time. 

"The range of normal is 120-160 and the baby's heart rate gets faster with movement, so you may be catching a boy with a baseline of 120 moving,and 'accelerating' into the 140s," she explains.

Some say if you’re craving sweets, you’re having a girl, and if you’re craving salt, it’s a boy. But Tara Allmen, MD, dismissed the claim as "just an old wives' tale!"

Among the strangest? The so-called Drano test, which Ghofrany says she hadn't heard of in fourteen years of practice — until now.  The method involves mixing crystal Drano with a bit of urine and observing the subsequent chemical reaction. If the mixture darkens after the first 10 seconds, it's a boy. If there's no color change, it's a girl.

Last but not least, another popular belief is that "a girl will 'steal your beauty,' so if a pregnant mom has acne and looks lousy, people will say 'girl,' whereas if they are "glowing," they say boy," says Ghofrany, who adds that there is "no evidence" to support such a theory.

Of course, we think pregnant Princess Kate looks better than ever. Could a little prince be on the way?