Baby Gender: Should You Get a 13 Week Gender Scan?
If you're pregnant, chances are you are firmly in one of two camps:
Camp Find Out the Gender ASAP or Camp Wait Until Birth.
Honestly, I understand both sides. With my first two babies, I was all about waiting until the birth to find out what gender my baby was. For the first baby, it just felt right to wait and with the second, we figured “Why not?” since we already had all baby-neutral things and we were pregnant again fairly soon. But by baby #3, mama was ready to know and prepare and buy all the baby things I needed this time around in colors other than yellow.
Like a lot of women, I waited until my 20-week anatomy ultrasound to find out my baby's gender when we decided we were ready to find out. Although the ultrasound is meant to check on your baby's development and isn't just an excuse for you to have a fun gender reveal party, a lot of people use that ultrasound as a chance to also find out their baby's (or babies'!) gender. But how early can you find out your baby's gender and are those early predictions accurate?
Many doctor's offices are now offering a gender scan as early as 13 weeks. But is an early gender scan reliable and should you get one? There are currently two ways to try to predict your baby's gender from a medical standpoint (I won't even get into all of the old wives' tales about gender, you're on your own there!)
The first is through an early ultrasound, usually done vaginally to get a more clear picture. These tests typically are done after the first trimester, when the fetus is more developed and the genitals have formed to the point of recognition.
One study found that after 14 weeks, gender predictions by an ultrasound sonographer were actually 100% accurate. Before that, ultrasound accuracy for gender prediction in the first trimester, between 11 and 14 weeks, dropped to 75% (still pretty good!). But even that statistic isn't completely accurate, as the numbers included cases where the ultrasound tech couldn't see the baby's genitals so if you take those out, the success rate was actually closer to 91%.
Before 12 weeks, the study showed about a 54% success rate for correct gender predication and those numbers changed specifically for male babies; male fetuses under 13 weeks were more likely than females to have the tech guess wrong or not be able to tell. (This could be because development of the genitals can happen at different stages.)
As early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy, you can also opt to have a special blood test, which screens for some chromosomal conditions, such as Down Syndrome, as well as gender. Gender shows up, obviously, in our chromosomes, which is why this kind of testing can detect what gender your baby has, based on his or her chromosomes. This type of testing is often referred to as NIPT, or non-invasive prenatal testing because it's a blood test, not an invasive test like an amniocentesis, which can screen for other types of conditions. The test is a screening test, so it isn't used to diagnose conditions, only to determine a likelihood of a certain condition, so keep that in mind as well before you decide to test, as it's not 100% accurate and it can't tell you with certainty if your baby has a certain condition. One type of NIPT in the UK claims to be 99.5% accurate for determining the fetus's sex, however.
Many insurance providers will now cover NIPT, but not all, so be sure to check with your insurance company before you accept this test (keep in mind that just because your doctor's office offers it to you, that doesn't mean it's covered — it's up to you to call your insurance provider to check!) or request it.
Did you find out the gender early and was it accurate? We'd love to hear from you!