The safest and most reliable method of determining your baby’s gender is, of course, the ultrasound. After about 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, your doctor should be able to use the ultrasound to detect the presence of either male or female genitalia. If the baby is a boy it’s usually easier to recognize, but most doctors and ultrasound technicians won’t tell a mom that she’s having a girl unless they actually see the presence of the vulva – not just the absence of the penis.
There is another reliable way to determine your baby’s gender, although it carries with it some risks and isn’t usually performed solely for that purpose. Amniocentesis is a procedure where a needle is inserted into the uterus, and it removes a small amount of the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. The amniotic fluid is then analyzed – usually for genetic problems. During that process, the amniotic fluid can also be analyzed for chromosomes, in order to determine what your baby’s sex will be. Amniocentesis is usually reserved for mothers over the age of 35, and when there is the likelihood of a genetic problem.
CVS – Chorionic Villus Sampling – is another test that can be used during the first trimester of pregnancy in order to determine your baby’s gender. The test is often used to detect certain abnormalities. It’s only infrequently used, as there are other tests that are less invasive that can provide the same results as CVS.
There are, of course, other methods for trying to determine your baby’s gender, none of which have any scientific basis but can still be interesting to consider. For example, there is the pendulum test where someone swings an object over your baby bump, and if it leans one way it’s a girl and if it leans the other way it’s a boy. There are Chinese gender prediction tests based on Chinese astrology. There is the “Drano” test – which may in some rare cases actually pose a health threat, and is probably best to be avoided.
Your best bet is to wait until that 20-week ultrasound, and hope that your baby will cooperate and position herself so that the doctor can tell gender.