How Old Wives’ Tales and Medical Science Intersect in Predicting Baby’s Gender

Kate Chered
5 min readJan 14, 2024

What is the Truth Behind Pregnancy Belly Shapes and Baby Gender Prediction?

Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of excitement, curiosity, and a myriad of old wives’ tales about predicting the gender of the unborn baby. Among the most commonly heard beliefs is that the shape and position of the pregnant belly can indicate whether it’s a boy or a girl. Let’s delve into these claims and separate myth from science.

A narrow belly is often associated with carrying a boy. The logic behind this belief is that women with narrow bellies often retain a slimmer appearance, and according to the old wives’ tales, women carrying boys are perceived to look more beautiful. However, this assumption lacks scientific backing. The human psyche, intriguingly, tends to remember the times when these predictions are correct, lending undue credibility to these beliefs.

Another common sign cited for expecting a boy is a belly protruding forward. This particular shape might indicate a higher uterine tone, potentially posing a risk of premature labour unrelated to the baby’s gender. Similarly, the retention of a waistline during pregnancy is often pointed to as a sign of carrying a boy.

A high-positioned belly, appearing neater and more “pulled up” compared to a lower-positioned belly of the same size, is also commonly believed to signify a boy’s birth. The old wives’ tale extends toward the belly’s protrusion, with a rightward bulge supposedly indicating a male child.

These beliefs are further embellished with details about the pigment stripe on the pregnant belly. A dark, long pigment stripe extending above the navel towards the ribs is often cited as a sign of carrying a boy. The improvement in the overall skin condition is also, at times, linked to this belief.

However, these indicators are far from reliable. Personal experiences often contradict these old wives’ tales. For instance, one woman reports having a forward-protruding, high belly without any change in colour or stripes for both her pregnancies — one boy and one girl. Despite the belly’s shape suggesting a boy in both instances, the gender prediction was only accurate once.

Where Do Medical Experts Stand on Gender Prediction Based on Belly Shape?

Medical professionals largely regard these attempts at predicting a baby’s gender based on physical appearance as mere guesswork. No scientific evidence supports the idea that the baby’s gender significantly impacts the mother’s appearance. No study has found a correlation, and no scientific rationale has been provided to justify these beliefs.

The reality is that the physical attributes of a pregnant belly depend on various factors:

to noticeably larger bellies.

  • The size of the fetus, as a larger baby requires more space.
  • The rate at which the mother gains weight; rapid weight gain can make the belly less pronounced.
  • The volume of amniotic fluid, with a greater volume, makes the belly appear larger.
  • The location of the placenta attachment, with a front wall attachment, makes the belly seem larger than if the placenta is attached at the back.

Given that there are only two gender outcomes, the effectiveness of these old wives’ tales is inherently 50% — they are right or wrong by chance. The human mind tends to remember the instances when these predictions are accurate, creating a bias that these occurrences are more frequent than they are.

How Scientific Research Debunks Myths Around Pregnancy and Baby Gender

Extensive scientific research has consistently debunked the myth that physical signs during pregnancy can accurately predict the baby’s gender. This belief in physical indicators is rooted more in cultural folklore than empirical evidence. The shape, size, and position of a pregnant belly are influenced by various anatomical and physiological factors, none of which are reliably linked to the baby’s gender.

The persistence of these beliefs is a fascinating example of how cultural narratives can overshadow scientific understanding. It highlights a common tendency to find patterns and meanings even in random events. While these tales are often shared in good fun and can be a playful part of the pregnancy experience, it’s crucial to recognize their folkloric nature and not ascribe to them any scientific accuracy.

In conclusion, while these old wives’ tales about pregnancy bellies and baby gender prediction are charming in cultural lore, they should be taken with a grain of salt. The only reliable methods to determine a baby’s gender are medical procedures like ultrasound or genetic testing. As we navigate the myriad of myths and facts surrounding pregnancy, it’s always wise to consult healthcare professionals for accurate information and guidance.


How Accurate are Old Wives’ Tales in Predicting Baby’s Gender?

The accuracy of old wives’ Tales in predicting a baby’s gender is scientifically unsubstantiated. These beliefs are based on cultural folklore rather than empirical evidence. While they are a fun aspect of cultural narrative, their accuracy is no better than a 50/50 chance, akin to a random guess.

Where Did the Belief in Belly Shape as a Gender Predictor Originate?

The belief in belly shape as a gender predictor originates from long-standing cultural folklore and old wives’ tales passed down through generations. These beliefs are rooted more in societal traditions and anecdotal observations than scientific facts.

What Factors Influence the Shape and Size of a Pregnant Belly?

The shape and size of a pregnant belly are influenced by various factors including the number of babies being carried, the size of the fetus, the rate of maternal weight gain, the volume of amniotic fluid, and the location of the placenta attachment. None of these factors are related to the baby’s gender.

When Can Medical Science Accurately Predict the Gender of a Baby?

Medical science can accurately predict the gender of a baby using ultrasound or genetic testing. These reliable methods are typically available during the second trimester of pregnancy. Unlike old wives’ tales, these scientific methods have a high degree of accuracy.

How Do Personal Anecdotes Influence Belief in Gender Prediction Myths?

Personal anecdotes often reinforce belief in gender prediction myths. The human mind tends to remember and give importance to instances when these predictions are correct, leading to a cognitive bias that overestimates the accuracy of these beliefs.

What is the Medical Perspective on Predicting Baby’s Gender Based on Physical Appearance?

The medical perspective is that predicting a baby’s gender based on the mother’s physical appearance during pregnancy is mere speculation. No scientific evidence links physical attributes like belly shape or skin condition to the baby’s gender.