If your house is brimming with boys or overflowing with girls, then maybe, just maybe, you daydream of having a baby of the opposite sex next time.
And although there’s no way to guarantee your next child’s gender in Australia, there are some things you can do that may raise your chances of delivering a bonnie boy or a gorgeous girl to balance out the numbers in your family.
Here are 5 ways that might help choose your baby’s sex – 3 natural methods and 2 that get the scientists involved – plus some old wives’ tales that might not!
Natural methods for gender selection
1. Food for thought
A healthy diet is great news for your body at all stages of life, and there’s a school of thought that certain diets might up your chance of conceiving a particular gender.
Some research has found that you can help increase your chance of having a girl by eating foods that are higher in magnesium and calcium (like spinach and yoghurt) and low in sodium and potassium. And although not scientifically proven, you could also try eating more acidic food (like blueberries) to have a girl.
If you’re after a boy, then a study has found that eating potassium-rich foods (like bananas) might increase your chances. Or you could try foods that that are lower in magnesium and calcium, and are more alkaline (like carrots and orange juice) rather than acidic. And remember, even if they don’t deliver the gender you’d like, a healthy diet is not to be sneezed at!
Old wives’ tales: While we’re on the topic of food, one olde worlde idea was that if you ate the ends of a loaf of bread you’d have a boy, and eating the middle would yield a girl. Take this with a grain of salt though, because people also recommended sleeping with a wooden spoon under your bed to conceive a girl!
2. All in the timing
If you’re trying to get pregnant, then chances are, you’re timing sex to take advantage of your most fertile days. The Shettles Method takes this one step further and talks about timing sex to influence your bub’s gender.
In his book ‘How to Choose the Sex of your Baby‘, Dr Landrum Shettles says that if you have sex close to when you’re ovulating, you’re more likely to have a boy, because male sperm is smaller and faster. And if you want a girl, you should have intercourse only two to four days before ovulation, because female sperm is slower to reach the egg.
Old wives’ tale: Speaking of speedy male sperm, there’s also the idea that if a man drinks coffee before having sex, he’s more likely to have a son. Whether this works or not, a coffee will definitely give your partner some… erm… get up and go!
3. The joy of different positions
Once you’ve decided on the timing for intercourse, why not think about the position too?
Some believe that your sexual position can impact the gender of your baby. The idea is that shallow penetration will deposit sperm closer to the entrance of the vagina, where the more acidic environment favours female sperm. And if you’re trying for a boy, then deeper penetration puts sperm closer to your cervix, giving the speedy male sperm a
And if you’re trying for a boy, then deeper penetration puts sperm closer to your cervix, giving the speedy male sperm a headstart in the great egg race. Whether this works or not, there’s no harm in trying!
Old wives’ tale: Back in Ancient Greece, people thought that if a man had sex while lying on his right side he’d be more likely to conceive a son.
Scientific methods for gender selection
4. All sorted!
Artificial insemination and sperm sorting are common in farming, and now a newer technological process called Micro Sort is being used to help humans increase their chance of having a boy or girl.
The Micro Sort process separates sperm cells, based on the chromosome they’re carrying. So if you’re keen for a boy, it sorts for sperm carrying the Y chromosome, and if you’d prefer a girl, then it sorts for the X chromosome.
With the help of intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the sorted sperm sample should then improve your chance of conceiving a chosen gender. However, keep in mind that Micro Sort isn’t currently available in Australia for gender selection.
Old wives’ tale: Back in 18th Century France, it was believed that sperm from the right testicle produced male babies, and that sperm from the left produced girls. So men were encouraged to tie off their left testicle during sex (or remove it!) to ensure a boy. Yikes.
5. Screening time
In the world of IVF, pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (or PGD for short) is a scientific technique that tests embryos for certain genetic conditions (like muscular dystrophy) and chromosome abnormality.
But that’s not all. PGD can also find out the sex of the embryo before it’s implanted, with virtually 100% accuracy. And although PGD can’t be used for gender selection in Australia, there are countries where it’s legal for couples to select their baby’s sex.
A modern mum’s tale: Natural methods aren’t guaranteed to influence the gender of your baby, however the scientific methods (especially PGD) do give parents more power of choice. This led one Melbourne mum to travel to the US and Mexico to use Micro Sort and PGD. The Secret Girl Project is the true story of her global quest to have a little girl.