The question of Team Pink or Team Blue is one that expectant parents often get from family, friends, and every curious stranger. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant and are wondering when you might be able to know for sure, read on. But the answer might not be as simple as you may think.
Before you conceive!
Yes, it’s true that you can find out the gender of your baby before you even get pregnant if you are using certain technologies to conceive, like in vitro fertilization (IVF). While getting to “pick” the gender of your future baby just for fun is not a reason in itself to undergo IVF, future parents can be told if a male or female embryo is considered the healthiest embryo to implant into the uterus (though you can skip being told this, too). Others may use IVF to choose a specific gender on purpose if it means avoiding a genetic disorder that only affects one gender, for example.
By a blood test in the first trimester.
Known as cell-free DNA screening, this blood test is used to screen for certain chromosomal abnormalities in a fetus. A simple blood draw is done on mom anytime after the 10th week of pregnancy, and usually for an extra fee, the gender of the baby can also be reported with the chromosome test results. As of now, this test is meant only for high-risk women, so don’t be surprised if your doctor or midwife has not mentioned this screening tool for you. Keep in mind that this won’t work if you are carrying more than one baby!
By an invasive procedure in the first trimester.
Known as chorionic villus sampling (or CVS), this test involves using a needle to extract a small amount of cells from your baby’s placenta, usually done between 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. This sample can then detect certain chromosomal disorders, and can also tell you if you are pregnant with a boy or girl. Just like cell-free DNA screening, this is a test reserved for high-risk women, especially since it is not free of risk for the baby.
By a different invasive procedure in the second trimester and beyond.
This is done via an amniocentesis, which uses a needle to sample your baby’s amniotic fluid. Again, chromosomes are analyzed and your baby’s gender can be revealed if you so wish. This test might be ordered if you are high-risk or if you had an abnormal ultrasound or screening blood test.
By an ultrasound in the second trimester.
This is the most common way that expectant parents find out. Usually done between 18 and 20 weeks, this is when your baby’s genitalia can be clearly seen (it can be done slightly earlier, too, but be wary of anyone who proclaims to know your baby’s gender absolutely on a 12-week ultrasound, for example). However, if baby is in a certain position, sometimes it’s impossible to be sure of the gender. And there is always the rare case where an ultrasound report showed a baby of one gender, only to have the correct one be revealed at his or her arrival, so keep in mind nothing is 100 percent!
At the time of birth.
Some parents opt to wait until they deliver to find out the gender of their baby, and that is perfectly fine, too. While it may seem odd to us now, this was the way it was done before prenatal ultrasounds became a routine tool used in pregnancy. If you can stand the suspense, go for it!
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, January 2019
- Most parents-to-be find out the gender of their baby when an anatomy ultrasound is done between 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- If you are using certain fertility treatments, you can actually know before you are even pregnant.
- Some women have blood tests or invasive procedures that can also report the baby’s gender.