Questions to Ask Yourself About Prenatal Testing

Early Pregnancy

Prenatal testing is a relatively common way to check for certain types of abnormalities with your baby. If your healthcare provider is recommending that you have prenatal testing, there’s important questions that you need to think about and ask yourself before you proceed.

While this is true in general, it’s especially important when the tests are designed to screen for conditions that can’t be medically treated.

Here are some of the questions you want to ask:

  • What am I going to do with the results of the test? If the results, normal, it can reduce some of your prenatal anxiety. On the other hand, if the results come back and show that your baby may have some sort of birth defect, it can add significantly to your anxiety. It might even have you questioning whether you want to continue the pregnancy.
  • How will the results change your prenatal practices? In some cases, a prenatal test may be up to detect a problem that can still be treated while you are pregnant. In other situations, the tests might give a sign to your doctor that you or your baby will need specific attention immediately after birth.
  • How reliable will the results be? Some prenatal tests are more accurate than others. Some tests carry a high risk of false negatives or false positives.
  • Are there risks involved in this testing? Some prenatal testing procedures, such as amniocentesis, can create a risk of miscarriage or other problems, including pain and anxiety. You have to weigh the risks against the importance of knowing what the results of the test are going to be.
  • What expense is involved? Insurance will cover certain types of prenatal testing, but not all insurance covers all types of prenatal testing. You’ll want to check in at a time to see whether or not the particular prenatal test is covered by your insurance plan. If it’s not, then you need to know how much the test will cost so that you can prepare for it financially.

It is your decision

Prenatal testing something that you and your partner have to decide about. Your healthcare provider may have recommendations and advice, but ultimately it is your pregnancy it is up to you whether or not you’re going to pursue this testing.

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Early Twin Pregnancy Signs

For women who have been trying to conceive, especially for women who have been using fertility treatments or medications, finding out that you are pregnant is an extremely exciting time. Many women, once they become pregnant, may wonder if they are going to have twins. This is especially true for women whose fertility treatments tend to produce twin or multiple pregnancies. There are certain early signs that a woman can watch for to see if she may be pregnant with twins.

One of the early signs of a twin pregnancy is that other signs of pregnancy might be exaggerated. The extra hormones that a woman who is pregnant with twins has can make breasts even more tender, make you more tired, make you need to urinate even more frequently, and, unfortunately, cause more morning sickness or nausea.

Another sign of a twin pregnancy is rapid weight gain in the first trimester. This is normal and common for women who are pregnant with twins or multiples. Measuring large for gestational age, in which your health care provider determines that your uterus is larger than usual for how far along in pregnancy you are can be another early sign of a twin pregnancy.

Women who are pregnant with twins often have elevated levels of a protein released by the baby called AFP, or alpha fetoprotein. In addition, you will probably have rapidly rising levels of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, or hCG for short, which is a hormone produced by the fertilized egg and used to help your pregnancy while the placenta is developing.

One of the most reliable signs that you are carrying twins is the presence of multiple heartbeats. At around 12 weeks of pregnancy, your health care provider will be able to do a Doppler test, in which he may be able to distinguish two heartbeats. An ultrasound can also reliably reveal whether or not you are carrying twins. At around six weeks of pregnancy, a skilled technician can find two embryos, two heartbeats, and two sacs.

Finally, many women just know when they are pregnant with twins. While intuition is not scientifically reliable, a woman’s ability to know her own body cannot be discounted.

Essential Nursery Checklist for a Girl

You want your nursery to be perfect for your little bundle of joy, and once you can accurately predict your baby’s gender it becomes a whole lot easier. You’ll have plenty of design and decoration options available to you. Depending on your style and preferences you might have a pink explosion in the nursery with ponies and fairy princesses and ballerina shoes.

On the other hand, you might go for more neutral design choices, not wanting to put too much social stereotyping into the design. Animals, natural scenes, and interesting colors can be just as appropriate. (This also gives you the advantage of not having to wait to find out if your baby is a boy or a girl before decorating.)

Regardless of how you decorate, there are some essential components your little girl’s nursery must have:

  • Sleeping space. Your baby girl needs a flat, firm mattress. You’ll need to have a crib for that mattress, and it should be one in which the mattress fits snugly. You should be able to get just one finger between your baby girl’s mattress and the side of the crib. In addition, the crib slats need to be under 2.5 inches away from one another, and the top rails of the crib should be at least 24 inches above the top of the mattress. You’ll want fitted crib sheets, some receiving blankets and a heavier blanket or two as well.
  • The right sounds and lighting. A nightlight is helpful for you when you need to feed your newborn girl in the middle of the night. It will help you get her up to change her without waking her, as well. You also might consider something to make noise, such as a CD or MP3 player. If your baby has trouble sleeping, there are a number of baby sleep albums available that may help her get some rest.
  • A place to rock and feed. A rocking chair is the traditional choice, although you can rock your new baby girl in an armchair just as well if you need to.
  • The baby monitor. You need to be able to hear your little one at night, and a baby monitor helps you do that.

Add a few decorative accents and a changing table and you’ll have everything you need and want in your girl’s nursery.

Blood Tests for Gender Prediction

Let’s face it: We all want to know whether it’s a boy or a girl as soon as we know we’re pregnant. While medical science is giving us those answers sooner and sooner through ultrasound and amniocentesis, waiting until the beginning of the second trimester can be grueling. For most of us, that leaves depending on traditional tests, which aren’t exactly scientifically based. What if there was a scientifically proven test which could let us know earlier?

Blood DNA Tests

There is. It has been available for several years now, but don’t expect your doctor to tell you about it unless you have a medical need to know whether you are having a boy or a girl (apparently, most doctors don’t consider gnawing curiosity a medical need). Fortunately, the test-which tests the DNA in the mother’s blood to determine gender-is widely available online. The basic idea behind the tests is that some of the baby’s DNA is present in the mother’s blood. Therefore, if they can detect Y-chromosomes in the blood, you’re having a boy; if not, you’re having a girl.

The blood tests are noninvasive. They use blood from a finger prick, similar to that which diabetics use to test their blood sugar levels. They’re also highly accurate. The label on one popular brand, Pink or Blue, advertises over 99% accuracy when used after seven weeks of pregnancy. Scientific studies aren’t quite as optimistic about the blood tests’ accuracy, rating them at 95% accurate when taken at seven weeks of pregnancy or later.

Why Your Doctor (Probably) Won’t Prescribe One to You

Doctors have these blood gender prediction tests available to them, but are often hesitant to recommend them to patients. This is based in large part on the fear that expectant parents may use them for gender selection purposes, leading to an increase in selective abortions. This is big enough concern that Pink or Blue refuses to sell their products in countries which have a history of widespread gender selection practices. Doctors do occasionally prescribe blood DNA tests for gender prediction when there is a medical need to know the babies gender, such as when there is a risk of a gender-specific hereditary disease.

Fortunately, they’re not cost prohibitive. The tests themselves can be purchased for around $25. If you have your own lab, that’s a real bargain. Lab testing generally costs between $250 and $300. Whether $300 is worth knowing your baby’s gender a month early is up to you, of course. If not, you can always consult the Chinese Gender Prediction Calendar. 

Can pregnancy symptoms predict the gender of your baby?

There has not been any definitive scientific research that suggests a connection between having certain pregnancy symptoms, or the severity of pregnancy symptoms, and the gender of your baby. Having said that, many women believe that their pregnancy symptoms can indeed predict the gender of your baby. Even if it isn’t the most reliable method, it can be fun to consider your pregnancy symptoms in relation to your baby’s gender while you wait for a more reliable method, such as an ultrasound, to tell you with more certainty what the gender of your baby will be.

One pregnancy symptom that has been connected with the gender of your baby has to do with cravings. It is thought that, if you are craving sweets like chocolate, that the gender of your baby will be female. In contrast, your baby would be a boy if you are craving sour things, such as raw lemon juice. Unfortunately, many women crave a combination of things that can be both sweet and sour, making it harder to predict the gender of your baby from this symptom.

Another pregnancy symptom that is thought to predict the gender of your baby is acne. If you break out in severe acne, it is predicted that you will have a girl. If your acne is mild, then you will have a boy.

The most common pregnancy symptom, morning sickness, may be able to be used to predict the gender of your baby as well. If you are severely sick, you will be having a boy. Otherwise, you will be having a girl. Some people think that the timing of morning sickness is able to predict the gender of your baby, too, with morning sickness in the morning being a boy and morning sickness at night being a girl.

Hair growth is another pregnancy symptom that can predict the gender of your baby. If you are having a boy, you should watch out because you are more likely to grow body hair during pregnancy. Conversely, if you are having a girl, you should not expect to grow body hair during pregnancy.

How successful is the Shettles method at selecting your baby’s gender?

The Shettles method of selecting your baby’s gender has been around for about the past twenty-five years. Proponents of the Shettles method suggest that it has proven to be extremely successful. When the Shettles method is used correctly, it is thought to be successful in about three quarters of cases. There has been some research, while not entirely conclusive, that suggests that it may be even more successful than that. These researchers suggest that the Shettles method is closer to 90% successful at selecting your baby’s gender.
Having said all of that, it is important to understand what exactly goes into the Shettles method of selecting your baby’s gender. The method has many components that need to be followed in order to be successful. While the hallmark of the Shettles method is most certainly the timing of intercourse in relation to the timing of ovulation, the other components of the Shettles method are important if the method is going to be successful at selecting your baby’s gender.

If, for example, you only follow the intercourse-ovulation timing component of selecting your baby’s gender, you are not going to be as successful if you follow the other components. If you want to have a girl, for example, the Shettles method indicates that penetration must be shallow. Intercourse should be in the missionary position, which will put the sperm closer to the entrance of the vagina, which is a more acidic, and will work against the “boy” sperm. In addition, successfully using the Shettles method to select your baby’s gender means that you should not have an orgasm during intercourse if you want to conceive a girl, as the orgasm may produce a variety of substances that would favor the “boy” sperm.

Ultimately, the Shettles method of selecting your baby’s gender will probably be as successful or even more successful as other methods, apart from an IVF situation where the sperm are actually separated between the “boy” and the “girl” sperm, and then the preferred sperm is used in the IVF procedure.

Boy or Girl: Gender Prediction Myths


As you know, the most reliable way for you to know your baby’s gender is of course via an ultrasound. Barring that, however, it’s fun to look at various pregnancy symptoms or other factors, and try to guess whether you’ll have a boy or a girl.

Here are some of the most common gender prediction myths we’ve come across:

It’s a boy if:

  • You didn’t experience morning sickness in early pregnancy
  • Your baby’s heart rate is less than 140 beats per minute
  • You are carrying the extra weight out front
  • Your belly looks like a basketball
  • Your areolas have darkened considerably
  • You are carrying low
  • You are craving salty or sour foods
  • You are craving protein — meats and cheese
  • Your feet are colder than they were before pregnancy
  • The hair on your legs has grown faster during pregnancy
  • Your hands are very dry
  • Your pillow faces north when you sleep
  • Dad-to-be is gaining weight, right along with you
  • Pregnancy has you looking better than ever
  • Your urine is bright yellow in color
  • Your nose is spreading
  • You hang your wedding ring over your belly and it swings left to right
  • You are having headaches
  • You add your age at the time of conception and the number for the month you conceived and the sum is an even number

it’s a girl if:

  • You had morning sickness early in pregnancy
  • Your baby’s heart rate is at least 140 beats per minute
  • You are carrying the weight in your hips and rear
  • Your left breast is larger than your right breast
  • Your hair develops red highlights
  • You are carrying high
  • Your belly looks like a watermelon
  • You are craving sweets
  • You are craving fruit
  • You crave orange juice
  • You don’t look quite as good as normal during pregnancy
  • You are moodier than usual during pregnancy
  • Your face breaks out more than usual
  • You refuse to eat the heel of a loaf of bread
  • Your breasts have really blossomed!
  • Your pillow faces south when you sleep
  • Your urine is a dull yellow color
  • You hang your wedding ring over your belly and it moves in a circle
  • You add your age at the time of conception and the number for the month you conceived and the sum is an odd number

Paternity Testing Before Delivery

dna paternity test?

If you find yourself in need of paternity testing for whatever reason, you have a choice to make. Paternity testing after your baby is born is much less invasive, much less expensive, and has less potential for problems such as miscarriage.

It’s important to understand your options for prenatal paternity testing so that you can make an informed decision. There are essentially two types of prenatal paternity testing that can occur. Both gather a sample of your baby’s DNA and are then compared to the DNA of the potential father.

About amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is generally performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, between the 14th and the 20th weeks. During an amniocentesis, your health care provider will utilize an ultrasound machine to help him guide a thin needle into your uterus, by way of your abdomen. This needle will draw out a little bit of amniotic fluid.  This amniotic fluid is then tested for DNA.

There are a few risks that go along with having amniocentesis. These include a chance of harm to the baby as well as a chance of miscarriage. You might also experience leaking of amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, or cramping.

Chorionic Villi Sampling

CVS is a procedure that can be done earlier in pregnancy, usually between week 10 and week 13. With CVS, your health care provider will insert a thin tube or needle into the vagina, through the cervix, to try to obtain little finger-like pieces of tissue attached to the uterine wall, known as chorionic villi. Chorionic villi comes from the same fertilized egg that your fetus comes from, and consequently has the same DNA makeup as your baby.

The risks involved in CVS are fewer, overall, than those involved in amniocentesis.

Know the law

Keep in mind, as well, that paternity tests notwithstanding, many states have laws about determining who is legally a baby’s father. In many states, the husband of a woman who becomes pregnant is legally the father, regardless of what the paternity testing says. In any case, without certain paperwork, a father’s name will not be listed on the baby’s birth certificate if he is not married to the mother.

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Essential Nursery Checklist for a Boy

Putting together a nursery can be a challenge on several levels. Not only are you faced with important design and decorating decisions, there’s also the little matter of actually carrying it out. To make matters worse, until you can accurately predict your baby’s gender you really have to do some waiting to see before you know what kind of design motifs you’re going to choose.

Once you’ve hit that 20 week prenatal appointment and have determined your baby’s gender, it’s time to get to work. If you’re having a boy, here are some of the essential nursery items you need to have in your baby boy’s room:

  • Crib. You’ve got to have somewhere for your baby to sleep. You want to make sure that the crib you pick isn’t under recall from the manufactuerer for safety reasons. The slats should be less than 2 ½ inches apart, with top rails at least 2 feet above the mattress.
  • Mattress. The mattress needs to be flat and firm. It should have a snug fit inside the crib, and you shouldn’t be able to get two full fingers between the crib and the mattress.
  • Blankets and bedding. You’ll need three or four fitted crib sheets, and some days you’ll use all of them. You’ll also need half a dozen lighter receiving blankets and a couple of heavier blankets if you live in a colder climate.
  • Chair for rocking and feeding. Rocking chairs and armchairs are both good choices here.
  • A noise maker. A music box, a CD player or even a white noise machine can all help baby sleep at night.
  • A mobile. If you choose to have a mobile in your baby boy’s room, you’ll want to stick with black and white images. These are stimulating for baby, but won’t be as likely to be a distraction or overly stimulating.
  • A nightlight. This is as much for you as it is for your baby boy. You want to avoid stubbed toes, and in many cases you’ll want to be able to get baby up and change him without waking him with too much light.
  • Baby monitor. This lets you hear baby at night, and is a real must-have.

You’ll want to add specific types of décor for your boy, as well. This doesn’t have to be traditional blue; you can use various themed elements such as sports or cars, or you can choose more neutral themes such as nature and animals. Once you know your baby’s gender, you can start making some of those important decisions, too.


How early can you detect the sex of your baby?

How early you can detect the sex of your baby depends on a variety of factors. The most important factor, perhaps, is the particular method that you are going to use to detect the sex of your baby. The various methods of detecting the sex of your baby will not only vary as far as when they can be used, but they can also vary greatly in terms of how accurate they actually are.
The most accurate sorts of testing that can be done to detect the sex of your baby is testing that uses amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS for short). An amniocentesis or CVS is more likely to be performed for some other purpose. Once the test is done, however, the genetic material can be analyzed to detect the sex of your baby. A CVS would typically take place between the 10th week and the 13th week of pregnancy, while an amniocentesis would usually take place between the 14th and the 20th week of pregnancy.

Beyond these tests, there are other ways to detect the sex of your baby. There are blood tests available for purchase that purport to be able to detect the sex of your baby. These tests are thought to work as early as the 6th week of pregnancy. In addition, the manufacturers of these tests typically offer a refund if they are wrong. However, the accuracy of these tests has not been adequately studied.

An ultrasound is perhaps the most common way to detect the sex of your baby. With an ultrasound, you can probably not detect the sex of yore baby until sometime between week 16 and week 20 of pregnancy. Having said that, there are a great many factors that go into how early you can detect the sex of your baby using an ultrasound. Everything from gestational age to the thickness of the mother’s abdominal wall can affect the amount of time that this process will take. An ultrasound is, after the 20th week of pregnancy, generally more than 90% accurate at being able to tell a baby’s sex.