All any parent wants is a healthy baby. That is a given.
However the issue of baby gender is often an unspoken cause of disappointment and depression for many parents.
I think of a family friend of ours who had twin boys. She loved them to pieces but really wanted her girl, so her and her husband tried again...they had a boy. When the twins were four, and her singleton was 2 years old they thought they'd give it one more go for their girl....TWIN BOYS!
She had five boys under five.
I have to admit that when our scan showed a little girl staring back at me, a little fear welled in my stomach 'a GIRL! I don't know what to do with a girl!' Obviously I got into the swing of things when she was born, but baby gender has remained a behind closed doors topic of conversation.
Can we really influence what gender our baby is?
Back to Basics
How is gender even chosen in the first place?
Well this has been a question fascinating mankind since we understood how babies were conceived.
Ancient civilisations believed everything from certain foods, sexual positions, or magic potions promoted one gender being selected over another. For most of history women were held responsible for which gender a child was.
This was particularly problematic if you were royal. Many famous Kings beheaded or divorced their wives because they did not produce male heirs. This, as we now know, was not at all the fault of the poor Queen.
In fact, what scientists were able to prove in the 20th century, was that the gender of the baby is actually chosen by the sperm. How is this the case?
At its basic level gender, or more specifically sex, is determined by your chromosomes.
Females carry two X chromosomes and males carry one X and one Y. This means that all eggs will be X chromosomes as it is half the genetic makeup of the mother - who only has X sex chromosomes to give.
A healthy sperm will then carry one half of the male DNA (or genetic makeup). Because men have both X and Y chromosomes, his sperm could have an X sex chromosome, or a Y sex chromosome.
If the sperm carrying the X sex chromosome makes it to the egg first, you will have a girl. If the sperm carrying the Y sex Chromosome fertilises the egg first, it will be a boy.
How does this help with influencing gender?
It is important to understand that there is evidence that the difference in sperm seems to go beyond simply the letter of the chromosome they're carrying. The chromosomes themselves change the capability or hardiness of the sperm.
Boy sperm doesn't seem to live as long. They are fast swimmers but run out of puff quickly.
They find the vagina much more inhospitable than girl sperm and die pretty fast. Male sperm seems to have a strong life of around 12 - 24 hours.
Girl sperm on the other hand is much hardier.
Although it is also heavier and makes the sperm move slower. This means that whilst girl sperm wont win in a short race to the egg, it will outlast boy sperm if it needs to wait a while to reach the egg. Girl sperm can last from as long as 2 to 5 days.
What science is there which supports this theory?
Well, not a lot.
The reality is it is very hard to pinpoint ovulation each cycle (unless you are undergoing reproductive support) so actually getting your timing spot on may be a bit of a struggle. Beyond that it doesn't mean that a little Jane wont be a fast swimmer and reach the egg first, or that you may find some resilient sperm being a baby Jack.
However there is evidence to suggest that timing it 'right' may tip the scales in your favour.
Examples for this include IVF and Artificial Insemination (AI).
IVF tends to result in more girls. It is theorised that girl sperm tends to be stronger at going through such as invasive process.
AI on the other hand seems to favour boys. As it is timed with being as close to ovulation as possible, and gives those little swimmers a helping hand.
What about health of the mother or father?
Good question - does you heath impact if you are having a boy or a girl? Recent research suggests that it can play a small role.
Again the strength of the swimmers is really at the base of this. Girl sperm is hardier, so it may be the case that in underweight or obese women, or those under severe stress, tended to provide a more inhospitable environment for sperm. This resulted in a higher ratio of girl babies.
This was also the case for men who had jobs where their baby making region was exposed to higher heat such as sitting with a laptop on your lap or working outdoors in a hot climate. Potassium levels were also shown to positively influence gender selection towards males.
So maybe having cereal with full fat milk and banana on top for breakfast, then sex the day of ovulation will get you that boy.
The reality is that once you have your baby in your arms, none of it will matter...although try telling that to my friend with 5 boys!
Did you find anything helped with having a girl or a boy? Or did you not want to influence it either way?