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Q&A: I Want to Know How Soon I Can Tell The Gender of My Baby

Question: How soon can I tell the gender of my baby by ultrasound? Seems like everyone I know says something a little bit different.

Answer: It’s simply a matter of how soon can you see the genitalia reliably enough to be sure. We’ve all heard stories of how at the ultrasound, the technician was sure that a woman was having a boy or a girl—only to discover on delivery day that the opposite was true. Each technician (often your doctor isn’t the one performing the ultrasound) has his or her own criteria during ultrasound for determining a baby’s gender, based in part on what he or she sees, but also from experience. There are different types of ultrasounds and therefore different times to test for gender.

    • A Level 1 ultrasound is usually done to merely determine gestational age and look for big abnormalities and can call the gender anywhere between 15 and 25 weeks. Most pregnant receive this ultrasound as standard practice.
    • A Level 3 ultrasound, done by perinatologists, can usually call the gender at 12 to 14 weeks, but this is a much more detailed exam done only when there is suspicion of problems—not just for a gender check.

But just because your health care provider or an ultrasound technician looks for your unborn baby’s gender during a Level 1 exam, doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll find it. Some baby’s don’t cooperate, meaning he—or she—won’t move so that the technician can see the baby’s gender. And even if the technician is fairly certain that your baby is a boy or girl, sometimes there are mistakes—certain angles of the baby can be, well, misleading.

Ultimately, the ultrasound, performed around 20 weeks, should give you a pretty good idea of your baby’s gender. But you’ll definitely know for sure on delivery day!

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