It happens all the time. A woman announces she’s pregnant and bam, the speculation begins about whether she’s having a boy or a girl. While some people claim the way a mum looks overall (her hair, glow, and so on) are predictors of whether she has a baby boy or girl on board, others swear it all has to do with the way she carries.

Midwife Amanda Bude from Groovy Babies is used to hearing such speculation. She says old wives’ tales say that if you’re carrying “wide and low” and that you’ve gained weight all around your abdomen (what is often referred to as a “tree trunk waist”), then you’re having a girl. Meanwhile, if you’re carrying “high and pointy” you’re more likely having a boy.

“But I don’t think there are any research that has ever been done to credit this,” Bude notes. Mind you, that doesn’t stop people from trying to guess a baby’s gender based on the way a woman is carrying.

Ever since she announced her pregnancy last year, Duchess Meghan Markle has been under the spotlight, with all eyes on her growing bump. According to Us Weekly, during an event on her and husband Harry’s royal tour, a student said to the father-to-be, “I’m predicting it’s going to be a boy”. Apparently, Harry laughed and replied, “Everyone is predicting it’s going to be a girl”.

Those ‘predictions’ may be based on Meghan’s bump, but Amanda’s quick to point out you can’t actually tell if a mum is due to have a boy or girl based on that alone. The truth, Amanda says, is that women carry differently “because [everyone’s] body is as unique as a finger print!”

While she says your baby’s gender has nothing to do with how you carry, she says there are other factors that affect your bump. For instance, she says a uterus is “pear shaped” for the first birth, but becomes more “apple shaped” for subsequent births, which can affect the appearance of your bump.

The tone and symmetry of your abdominal and uterine muscles and ligaments can also affect the shape of your uterus. That’s why women who have already had a baby tend to have a bigger bump earlier. Other factors, such as how fit and toned you are, can also affect the size of your bump. Amanda explains that women who have more toned abdominal muscles tend to have smaller, less protruding, bumps.

Your height may play a role, too. Amanda says short women tend to carry “low and around the middle” while taller women often show later in the pregnancy, as they have “more room” in their abdomen for the baby, making a pregnancy less noticeable at first.

Plus, the position of your baby can influence your bump. If your baby is lying transverse (which means it’s lying long-ways, or horizontally, across your uterus) your bump will look different to if it’s lying vertically, Amanda says. A baby in the posterior position (when she’s head down, facing your abdomen) can also make your bump appear smaller.

There are other factors that can influence the way you carry, including the amount of weight you gain, genetics and possibly even your age. The truth is, the only way to really know whether you’re having a boy or a girl during pregnancy is to do some kind of test.

An ultrasound performed around 18-20 weeks can help confirm gender, while diagnostic tests like blood tests are almost completely accurate. Or, of course, you can wait till the day you deliver to find out if you’re going to be the proud mother of a boy or girl.

As for Meghan and Harry, it’s only a matter of time before we hear if their baby will be a royal ‘he’ or royal ‘she’. And, considering Meghan’s expected to deliver around April, it’s not long until to go until we find out…

Evelyn Lewin is a GP with a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology.

While we’re on the topic, read about how you can use BBT charting to make a baby in 2019 and and what returning from mat leave looks like for a ballerina.

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