Fetal Heart Rate And Gender: The Truth Is Fun (And Magical)

Fetal Heart Rate And GenderThe wonderful thing about predicting a baby’s gender is that nobody can prove you wrong. If you’re related to the baby in question, then, maybe, your day of reckoning will come in the next six or seven months. But the random woman on the street who has four kids and absolutely assures you of your baby’s true gender, she will simply use this opportunity to demonstrate her expertise.

Surprisingly, some people really seem to have a knack for guessing gender. Old wives’ tales abound when it comes to this, but one of the most popular – and commonly believed – is the fetal heart rate theory: using the baby’s heart rate to determine gender. I examine the facts below, but if the nature of this debate is causing you stress, check out this prenatal yoga course specifically designed for strengthening and opening.

The Theory

The theory itself is very simple. If your baby’s heart rate is above 140 beats per minute (BPM), then the baby is more likely to be a girl. It would only make sense, then, that if the baby’s heart rate is below 140 BPM, then the baby is more likely to be a boy.

It’s as simple as that. But things immediately become more complicated when we consider the fact that the average baby’s heart rate is right around 140 BPM (and maybe even a little lower).

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The Truth: Part 1

While the average baby heart rate is around 140 BPM, is it extremely common for all babies’ heart rates to fluctuate between 120 and 160 BPM. The implications of this are obvious: one day your baby is a boy; the next, a girl. It could even vary this drastically in just a few minutes depending on how active your baby is.

Level of activity is believed to affect heart rate far more directly than gender. It’s as if your baby is exercising; the more he or she moves around, the faster his or her heart is going to beat. Conversely, if your baby is sleeping, the heart rate is going to be significantly slower.

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The Truth: Part 2

There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun trying to guess your baby’s gender. You will probably use at least several of the hundreds of “methods” for predicting gender throughout your pregnancy.

Old Wives’ Tales: The most common of these are the ring-on-a-string trick (in which you judge gender based on the movement of the ring when held over your stomach), the “linea nigra” (using the dark line some women get that runs from their pelvic bones to their belly buttons), the pretty test (if a woman looks prettier during pregnancy, it’s a boy; if she looks, uh, less pretty, it’s a girl – the theory being that the new girl is stealing her beauty . . . weird), etc.

So the truth, as you may have expected, is that the fetal heart rate test is not accurate. Sure, it might be right in a lot of cases, but it’s wrong in just as many. It can be relied on for only one thing: fun. But while this theory is proven wrong, there’s a far more interesting theory that any mother will love that seems to have some validation. It doesn’t rely on random people on the street; it’s all about the mother.

Study #1: The Scientific Approach

The first study I want to talk about concerns a scientific approach to the fetal heart during the first trimester. This is really the most important time for the heart rate theory because once you enter your second trimester, an ultrasound will be able to identify the gender with about 99% accuracy.

This study is published by the US National Library of Medicine. The link will take you to the abstract, but that’s really all you need to see. The short story is that between 1997 and 2003, 966 first-trimester pregnancies were studied (but only 477 met the necessary criteria). 51% of the babies were female and 49% were male, so it was very well balanced.

The study found that the average female heart rate was 151.7 BPM. That seems to fit the heart rate theory, right? Well, it does, until we learn that the average male heart rate was 154.9 BPM. So this study, although admittedly not 100% conclusive, seems to show the opposite results of the heart rate theory; which is to say that boys, not girls, tend to have higher heart rates.

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Study #2: The Instinctive Approach

I feel that it is only appropriate (i.e. justice is served) that all these old wives and their tales can never approach the accuracy of a mother’s intuition. And that is the truth. While some people will always believe in the fetal heart rate theory no matter how many studies you put in front of them, the truth seems to be that only mother’s, using their dreams, intuition and emotions, can reliably predict the gender of their babies.

This study by the University of Arizona is just one example; a quick Google search will bring up a totally surprising number of studies that all reach the same conclusions. So while the fetal heart rate test is like flipping a coin (you have a 50% chance either way), this study, which asked 100 women to predict the gender of their baby, showed that when women used their intuitions, they were right over 70% of the time.

Interestingly, though not entirely related, the study also showed that three out of four college aged students “maintained that their mothers are able to read their thoughts.” And 80% of the same population believed their mothers to be more intuitive than their fathers. For more fun reading, check out this article that used some pretty intense science to prove the mother-baby bond.

The Final Truth

The final truth is that moms are awesome. The bond between mother and child is borderline magical. Old wives had their moment, but it’s the young, soon-to-be-mothers who are predicting, and literally making, the future.

Once you’ve successfully predicted your baby’s gender, use these six yoga practices to have an enviable post-baby body and mind.