What Science Says About 'Signs' You're Having a Boy

According to old wives' tales, these pregnancy symptoms may mean you're expecting a male baby. But can they be trusted? We consulted medical experts to get their opinions on whether there's any truth to them.

Editor's Note

While this article uses the terms "gender" and "boy" vs. "girl," it's important to note that gender is a personal identity that exists on a spectrum, can change over the course of a person's lifetime—and most importantly—is something that a person defines for themselves. Sex, on the other hand, is assigned at birth based on the appearance of a baby's genitalia. While sex assigned at birth often matches a person's gender (called cisgender), sometimes, for transgender, intersex, and gender nonbinary people, it does not.

There are lots of wonderful things about pregnancy (getting to meet that tiny little VIP comes to mind first!), but for some parents, one of the most fun things is guessing the sex of their soon-to-be little one.

If you've been wondering what your future family would look like even before those two lines popped up, chances are you're keeping an eye on every sign and symptom you're feeling hoping to get a hint. And if you're hanging out with your grandmother, she's probably asking you questions like: Are you carrying low or high? Is baby's heart rate around 140? Are you super nauseous?

Over the years, plenty of old wives' tales about pregnancy symptoms have been passed down claiming to point to one sex or the other. But is there any truth to any of them? The bottom line: Not really.

Here are the facts when it comes to the most common "clues" that you're having a boy. Still, even though most of these boy pregnancy symptom myths have been debunked, some of them will hold true for you—after all, there's a 50% chance, right?

Blue Filtered Cropped high angle shot of a pregnant woman’s bare belly
PeopleImages/Getty Images

Old Wives' Tales Say You're Having a Boy If...

You're carrying low

According to one old wives' tale, if you're carrying the baby low, even before that much-anticipated "dropping" that occurs late in the third trimester before you go into labor, you may be pregnant with a boy.

The truth: While carrying low can help you avoid some of that pregnancy indigestion, according to Kameelah Phillips, M.D., IBCLC, an OB-GYN at Calla Women's Health in New York, it doesn't necessarily mean your baby is a male. "It really depends on the position of the baby and the number of babies you've had that primarily impacts the appearance of the abdomen and uterus."

You're only gaining weight around your belly

Can people tell you're pregnant from behind? If not, old wives' tales say you may be pregnant with a boy. So goes this myth, which states if you're "all belly," there's a good chance you'll welcome a boy, but if you're carrying the excess weight in your hips, waist, and rear, you may be having a girl.

The truth: "Again, not really," says Dr. Phillips. "This is mostly related to the pregnant person's size and shape, rather than a particular gender."

Your partner isn't gaining weight

On your own when it comes to this whole weight gain thing? This old wives' tale says there's a good chance you're having a boy if your partner has maintained their weight even when the scale tips upward for you as the weeks progress.

The truth: This one doesn't hold particularly true, either. "While dad weight is definitely a thing" (if your partner happens to be male), says Dr. Phillips, "it doesn't point to a particular sex."

Your skin is clear and glowing

Is your skin glowing or has your pregnancy been riddled with acne that could rival your teen years? The old (rather terrible!) saying goes, "girls steal your beauty." So if you've truly got that pregnant glow, this wives' tale errs on the side of a baby boy.

The truth: Dr. Phillips says there may be just a hint of truth to experiencing a pregnancy glow, but it doesn't mean you should expect one sex over the other. "Often, glowing skin is associated with a baby boy, but is more likely related to an increase in blood flow and volume," she says, which happens in every pregnancy.

Your morning sickness isn't that bad

Those early weeks of pregnancy can be tough, regardless of whether you experience morning sickness or not. Some amount of queasiness is normal for every pregnant person, but if your morning sickness is totally manageable, this myth says it's possible you're baking a baby boy.

The truth: Research has debunked this myth, finding that 80% of pregnant people experience some amount of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, regardless of the baby's sex.

Your urine is a dull yellow

It's a good idea to take a cautious approach to any wives' tales having to do with urine—there are some at-home "gender prediction" tests that can be downright dangerous! But this one is pretty tame—the myth calls for checking out the color of your urine to get a clue about your baby's sex. Bright yellow? You could be carrying a girl, while a duller hue could indicate a boy.

The truth: Sadly, Dr. Phillips flatly disagrees with this assessment: "Urine color, smell, and volume varies throughout the day and with hydration and diet. As such, there is no relation between urine and the sex of your baby. It's likely related to factors like fluid intake, presence of infection, and vitamin usage."

Your feet are always cold

Got cold feet? No, not about being pregnant (though that's perfectly normal!). If you find that your feet are always cold now that you're pregnant, one old wives' tale holds that you might be expecting a boy.

The truth: Temperature changes are most likely due to normal hormonal fluctuations, says Dr. Phillips. "People complain about being both overly hot and cold at any point during the pregnancy, so it's not a reliable determination of the baby's sex."

Your baby's heart rate is low

You'll probably hear that amazing beating sound sometime around 8 to 10 weeks at one of your first prenatal appointments. And many people believe this treasured experience can also be one of your first possible clues into your baby's sex: male fetuses supposedly have a heart rate that's 140 beats per minute or slower, while female fetuses' hearts beat a bit faster, at 140 beats per minute or higher.

The truth: Numerous studies have proven this to be untrue.

Science Says You're Having a Male Baby If...

We know, we know, you're dying to find out the sex of your baby. It seems like the wait takes forever! Old wives' tales aside, there are a few science-approved ways you can find out whether you'll welcome a male or female, starting with the following tests.

Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT)

First up is noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), an optional genetic screening test you'll be offered around week 10 of your pregnancy. Your baby's sex will be included in the report that comes back from your doctor, so be sure to let them know before the report is read if you don't want to know what you're having.

Nuchal translucency (NT) scan

If you opt-out of the genetic screening, your next opportunity to take a stab at the sex of your unborn baby is at the nuchal translucency (NT) scan around 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is simply a thorough ultrasound that screens for different markers of Down syndrome, trisomy 13, trisomy 18, and other chromosomal abnormalities. While 12 weeks is a bit early to determine sex, rarely the tech may get a clear shot.

Mid-pregnancy ultrasound

If you're still guessing after these tests, or you've opted to skip the NIPT, you'll have to wait until your mid-pregnancy ultrasound to learn the baby's sex. Around weeks 18 to 22 of your pregnancy, you'll finally get to go in for your much-anticipated mid-pregnancy ultrasound, where you'll get an intimate view of every inch of your growing bundle of joy. In most cases, you should be able to find out your baby's sex if you don't want to keep it a surprise.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles