Can Heart Rate Predict a Baby's Gender?

Boy or girl? It's perhaps the most common question asked of pregnant women, and many a pregnant woman looks forward to learning the sex of her baby with almost as much anticipation as her due date. Before the actual delivery of your baby, an ultrasound is the most commonly used way to learn whether you're having a boy or girl, though not with 100 percent accuracy. It's a pregnancy myth that the fetal heart rate can predict gender, however.

A baby's gender is usually discovered with an ultrasound. (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Fetal Heart Rate Facts

A normal heart rate for an unborn baby is between 120 and 160 beats per minute, according to Dr. Larissa Hirsch writing for the KidsHealth website. According to myth, a woman is likely having a girl if her baby's heart rate is 140 bpm or faster, and a heart rate lower than 140 bpm signals a boy. According to the "New York Times," it's unclear how the myth came about, but after conception, babies' hearts usually begin beating at a rate of around 85 bpm, which increases by 3 bpm each day during the first month of pregnancy until it reaches about 175 bpm. After the first month, the heart rate slows to between 120 and 160 bpm.

Changes in Heart Rate

Heart rate is an unpredictable way to determine the sex of your baby because the number of beats per minute varies depending on different scenarios. For example, the number of beats can differ from one prenatal visit to the next, according to KidsHealth. Your baby's activity level and age can influence how quickly her heart beats, which means a baby's heart rate can be different at different parts of the day regardless of gender.

Gender Clues

An ultrasound can give you clues about whether your baby is a boy or a girl. Ultrasound images can show the genitals of an unborn baby, though most ultrasound technicians will never say with 100 percent certainty that a baby is one gender or another. An ultrasound is one of the most accurate ways to determine the sex of your baby, and usually takes place between 18 and 20 weeks. An amniocentesis, though usually performed to check for abnormalities, can also be used to extract DNA, which can be used to discover the gender.

More To Think About

Though it can be entertaining to predict whether you're having a boy or a girl by counting the heart rate, it's not a scientific way to determine the gender of your baby. While there isn't a difference in heart rate during pregnancy that can predict the sex of a baby, it's interesting to note that girls' heart rates are faster during delivery, but there is no explanation as to why, according to the "Wall Street Journal."

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