Historically speaking, the best way to determine your baby’s gender has been with an ultrasound. While there are plenty of other indicators (some based on fiction, others actually based on science) actually observing the presence of male or female genitalia on an ultrasound has always been the most reliable method for gender prediction.
One of the more frustrating things about this, however, is that it’s usually not until your 20-week ultrasound (or thereabouts) that your doctor can really tell whether you’re going to have a boy or a girl. Those four or five months can seem to drag, especially if you’ve already got children and would like to be able to make plans based on the baby’s gender.
Yet, in the past few years, a new type of gender prediction test has hit the market. This test works much like a pregnancy test; a strip tests a woman’s urine, and will turn one color if the baby is a boy, another color if it is a girl.
The test looks at specific hormones in the woman’s urine. They combine with chemicals on the strip, and react differently if the baby is a boy than if it’s a girl. The urine test claims to work as early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy – half the time that it usually takes for an ultrasound.
According to test makers, these urine-based baby gender predictors aren’t 100% accurate. Accuracy is about 80%, meaning that it’s often simply best to wait for confirmation from your 20-week ultrasound to find out whether it’s a boy or a girl (before you start painting the nursery).
In some ways, this is a good thing. Some experts suggest that verifying a baby’s gender can, in some ways, help to create a prenatal bond between baby and parents. By being able to visualize their baby, parents can begin to bond, even when the baby is still very small and developing.
Some activists have been critical of the test, suggesting that it might spur parents to engage in gender selection via elective abortions, although there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence to suggest that this would be a widespread practice.