*This is a podcast interview in the series - Regular Moms | Regular Birthing Stories*
There is nothing quite as magical as having a baby, whether its a boy or a girl! But every parent has this curiosity to know what gender the baby belongs to physiologically! And in India, since gender determination before birth is banned, there are old wives tales going on since decades which try to predict the gender!
Have you heard any?
If you are curious, you need to read this blog till the end!
In todays episode of Hand that rocks the cradle, we spoke to Sapna Yadav, an Instagram influencer and new mother, on her view on gender prediction and she has very fascinating insights to share!
Watch her entire Hindi video interview here:
Sapna also shares in detail about what to expect after a normal delivery.
“I was asked to not sit cross legged and not climb stairs till stitches healed”, she says.
When we spoke to pregnant mothers in House of Zelena's Zactive mom community, 90% of them were clueless on what exactly happens in labor and delivery! Which is why birthing becomes an anxiety filled time for most mothers and instead of relaxing, mothers end up even more stressed.
Mathumathy V, a birth doula, in one of our community events shared that in the 150+ pregnant mothers who she has trained for delivery, most of them were anxious and hence will find labor painful. “The trick is to train your mind and the rest falls into place!” she shares.
So how can you train your mind?
By educating yourself on the normal delivery process and what to expect. Being aware makes the fear of the unknown disappear.
You can also hear Sapna in podcast (audio only) here :
Can I find my baby's gender before birth in India?
The practise of gender selection is very old in India. Due to the patriarchal customs which have existed for hundreds or years, boys are favored over girls even today. However, in 1991 census, the ratio of girls to boys was found to be alarmingly low. Till as recent as 2011, there were only 940 girls to 1000 boys in India and this ratio was more skewed in states like Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
To balance the gender ratios the Government of India passed the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT) Act in 1994.
The following are a few of the Act's regulations:
Prohibition of sex selection and determination by any methods, including amniocentesis and ultrasound
The foetus's sexual orientation cannot be disclosed to anyone in any way.
Only trained specialists are capable of performing diagnostic procedures.
According to the statute, every institution that administers exams must be registered.
Institutions must show their certificate of approval.
Relevant forms must be completed and documented prior to any tests.
A statement must be signed by the patient and the doctor.
A notification stating that sex-based hiring and selection are illegal must be posted in all institutions.
Any party who violates the Act is subject to a fine and a term of jail.
In short, gender determination before birth is BANNED IN INDIA.
Lets look at 5 gender prediction methods through the eyes of science!
Some believe that if you have morning sickness and the bucket is your best friend, you are having a girl and if morning sickness isn't something you feel bothered by, its a boy.
Science Fact: Morning sickness occurs due to the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) which starts getting released after embryo implants! It is supposed to protect the mother and baby from teratogenic and abortifacient chemicals, especially toxic chemicals in strong-tasting vegetables, caffeinated beverages and alcohol especially in the first 18 weeks when foetus is suspectable to damage. This has nothing to do with gender and 2/3rd of all pregnant women will experience morning sickness according to research published in National Library of Medicine.
Almost all of us have heard the elders saying that if you are craving for salty/spicy foods its a boy and if you are craving for sweets its a girl! In the interviews we did of mothers in Hand that rocks the cradle, 95% admitted this is just a MYTH.
“In my pregnancy I was craving sweets! And I delivered a boy. So it was completely opposite!” says Sapna in the interview!
Science Fact: According to research, pregnancy cravings happen due to variety of reasons including hormones, heighted smell and taste sense and also nutritional deficiencies. Interestingly, cravings have been shown to follow a pattern in most women irrespective of what gender the foetus is.
1st trimester : Savoury cravings
2nd trimester: Sweet cravings
3rd trimester : Salty cravings.
Another very interesting factor in cravings is - culture.
Research has shown that women in Tanzania crave fish and meat whereas women in Japan crave rice! Craving in the US and UK also vary greatly depending on what socioeconomic background and culture they come from!
So you would have guessed by now that cravings have NOTHING to do with gender!
And if you are pregnant and craving for that tub of chocolate go for it!
PS: Keep your weight gain healthy in pregnancy!
Carrying means, position of baby in the womb. It means carrying high or low means position and shape of the bulging belly. In the earlier days, the baby's gender was predicted based on the how the mother is carrying. If she is carrying low, it meant a girl and is she is carrying high it meant a boy. Now that scientific explanations exist, still this belief is prevalent in many cultures.
Science Fact: Most women will seem to carry high till the 4th month when foetus is still small. However, if in more advanced pregnancy, if a mother is still carrying high, it can be due to the fact that abdominal muscles haven't stretched as yet. This is commonly seen in the first pregnancies.
If the woman is carrying low, its usually because the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles are weak which usually occurs in the second pregnancy onwards when the muscles have been stretched in the first pregnancy.
It is widely believed that the foetus's heart rate can predict the gender. If the heartrate is lower than 140 bpm, its a boy and if it is above 140 bpm it is a girl. Interestingly, the mothers who we interviewed for Hand that rocks the cradle, all seemed to agree with this fact!
“My baby had a heartbeat of less than 140, so we were kind of expecting a boy”, Sapna shares.
This can just be a coincidence though! So what does research say?
A number of studies have looked for a link between a fetus’ heart rate and their sex.
In 2006, one study found no significant differences between male and female fetal heart rates.
The researchers took the heart rates recorded on 477 sonograms taken during the first trimester and compared them to the sonograms taken during the second trimester, which the doctors used to determine the fetuses’ sex. They concluded that a fetus’ heart rate was not an indication of its sex.
In 2016 study, 322 female and 323 male fetal heart rates recorded during the first trimester. These researchers also found no significant difference between them.
Another study published by Foetal Diagnosis and Therapy which examined 966 sonograms from women concluded that the average heart rate for boys was 154.9 bpm (plus or minus 22.8 bpm) and for baby girls it was 151.7 bpm (plus or minus 22.7 bpm).
In other words, the MYTH is busted!
“You are so moody, you must surely be carrying a girl!”
Does this sound familiar? Yes because its very commonly thought that moody predicts a female foetus and chilled out, generally happy predicts male foetus. The explanation is that if the mother is carrying a female foetus, there is excess of female hormones like oestrogen which make the mother more prone to mood swings.
Is there any truth or this is just another tell tale?
Science fact: The truth is most women will experience mood swings especially in the first and third trimesters. There is numerous research on this which states that mood swings occur due to fatigue, physical stress, changes in metabolism and the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
You will experience some degree of mood swings regardless of gender!