Can I Choose My Baby’s Gender?

Several suggested practices – from diet changes to the timing of intercourse – promise to ensure you can choose the sex of your baby but none has proven successful. In an unassisted pregnancy, the odds of having a baby of either sex remain fairly even at 50/50.

Urologist Sarah Vij, MD, and women’s health specialist Cynthia Austin, MD, explain what drives the theories and shed some light on the truth.

Myths about a baby’s sex
Several myths are based on the Shettles Method, developed by Landrum Shettles in the 1960s. He built his theories on the fact that the sperm carrying the Y chromosome, which conceives a baby boy (XY), is lighter and faster but less durable than the sperm carrying the X chromosome that results in a girl (XX). Several myths about conception stem from this theory.

Myth 1: Have intercourse closer to ovulation allows the lighter, faster Y-chromosome sperm to reach the egg first. Intercourse further from ovulation enables the stronger, more durable X-chromosome sperm to outlast the Y-chromosome sperm.

Dr. Austin says “Intercourse two days prior to ovulation is good timing,” but she adds this would only increase the likelihood of conception, and would not affect what sex your baby would be.

Myth 2: Shettles suggests that having deeper intercourse helps the faster Y-chromosome sperms get to the egg first. Having deeper intercourse, Dr. Austin says. “would not alter delivery of sperm to the egg at all.”

Myth 3: To increase likelihood for a boy, women should increase potassium in their diet.

One study indicated that there was an association between potassium and having a male baby, but offered only minimal proof that this was a reliable method. In fact, there was only a 5% change in the number of women in the study who ended up having a boy, according to Dr. Vij.

Myth 4: Women who use an expectorant (like cough syrup) can increase the fluidity of their cervical mucus to lubricate the way for Y-chromosome sperm. To which Dr. Vij replies: “That’s another old wives’ tale.”

Myth 5: Changing the pH factor in the vagina can help. If you make the vagina more acidic by using a vinegar douche, it favors a girl. If you make it more alkaline by using a baking soda and water douche, it favors a boy.

“Baking soda douches won’t change odds for sex,” Dr. Austin says, adding: “It can be very harmful to the woman, too, especially the baking soda, so we do not recommend these techniques.”

The only way to guarantee a boy or girl?
Currently, the only way to guarantee sex is a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), where a single sperm is implanted in the egg in a type of in vitro fertilization called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). A cell of the developing embryo is tested to determine sex prior to placement in the uterus of the mother.

But Dr. Austin clarifies: “Even with genetic testing, the sex cannot be 100% guaranteed,” she says.

Because the male sperm tend to be a little lighter, they can be separated through centrifugation or other processing procedures. However, she says, this only increases the odds by a few percent.

Drs. Austin and Vij concur: Focus should be on parents making a healthy baby, rather than a baby of a particular sex.

10 Things No-One Tells You After Giving Birth

Here are 10 things we should talk more about when it comes to life after birth:

1. Bigger feet after pregnancy
2. Postpartum Contractions
3. Allergies
4. Postpartum back pain
5. Postpartum hair loss
6. Menstruation
7. Breast changes
8. Incontinence
9. Flat bottom
10. New life with baby

Scroll down to read more about these changes.


Researchers from one study found that almost 70% of postpartum participants reported longer feet and shorter arches. Evidence isn’t conclusive, but pregnancy weight gain coupled with relaxin, the placenta-producing hormone that loosens ligaments and allows for cervical dilation, could be responsible for postpartum foot growth.


Women the world over liken labor contractions to the most debilitating and gut-wrenching of period cramps. But what about the cramps that keep kicking after childbirth, the ones that help expel the placenta during the third and final stage of labor and contract the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size? What we don’t talk much about is how breastfeeding hastens this process; it speeds up these contractions and our postpartum recovery commences faster. So if you’re cradling your three-day-old newborn and still cramping, know that they, too, will pass, and might be more severe after subsequent pregnancies. If contractions get increasingly more intense or seem atypical, reach out to your doctor for personalized clinical care.


Hormonal shifts after pregnancy sometimes change the way our bodies react and adapt to the outside world — and postpartum allergies are one such way. During pregnancy, the body intentionally suppresses its own immunity so as not to reject the growing fetus as a foreign and therefore dangerous intruder. Once the body’s defense mechanism kicks back into gear after birth, it sometimes takes the job too seriously and attacks outside forces that used to be inconsequential. That’s where allergies come in. Some postpartum women are allergic to foods that were once staples in their diets; others develop skin irritations from products that never posed a problem in the past. What’s helpful to know is that these allergenic flare-ups are often temporary.


Postpartum women generally see their doctors for a six-week check-up, during which time they get the go-ahead to resume exercise and intercourse. And while there’s the intuitive knowledge that core muscles have been dormant for many months while growing a baby, the tendency to jump back into a high impact exercise routine is pervasive. When core muscles aren’t strong enough to activate during exercise, the low back overcompensates. Add to this the almost incessant picking up and carrying of a growing baby and many postpartum women suffer from sometimes debilitating and chronic back pain.


Newborns usually lose the hair they’re born with and grown in the hair they’ll keep through childhood. Postpartum women lose hair, too, and it’s called postpartum alopecia. Hair loss after pregnancy and birth is caused by a dramatic hormonal shift, and it often occurs weeks or months into postpartum life. Many women report clumps of hair falling out in the shower and a thinning of the hair around their front hairline. This shedding of hair is temporary, and many report hair regrowth anywhere from 6 to 12 months postpartum.


Many categorically assume that breastfeeding inhibits the return of menstruation — and while often the case, breastfeeding doesn’t universally preclude the return of a woman’s fertility. The Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and as effective as hormonal birth control as a safe family planning option, so long as:

  • Baby is under 6 months of age.
  • Baby is exclusively breastfed, given no pacifiers or bottles, and is breastfed on demand both day and night.
  • Mother and baby sleep in close proximity to each other.
  • Mother’s period has not returned (normal postpartum bleeding, called lochia, is different from menstrual bleeding).

It’s important to remember that fertility can return while breastfeeding, but every woman’s body responds differently to the hormones of lactation. Whether or not menstruation has returned during breastfeeding, it’s always best to consult with your doctor about birth control options or family planning methods that feel right to you.


A woman’s breasts undergo such massive changes during pregnancy and after childbirth: they grow, they ache, they leak. One of the most surprising and sometimes alarming breast changes for postpartum women occurs around the 3-month mark when their breasts feel suddenly less full. The fear is that milk supply has vanished overnight, but the truth is much less grim. When milk increases in volume a few days postpartum, the goal is for the body to activate the right machinery, as it were, to make enough milk for our babies. It takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks for the postpartum body to regulate milk production and produce the amount baby needs as opposed to a much higher volume. The result is a breast that feels lighter, even empty. Despite this feeling and a decrease in breast size, lactating parents are always producing milk, even when it feels like there couldn’t possibly be anything there.


There’s a pervasive assumption that women who have birthed babies will be automatically burdened by postpartum incontinence, a leaking of urine that happens involuntarily. But why does it happen? Pelvic floor muscles weaken during pregnancy, and some women suffer damage to the nerves that are responsible for bladder control. While postpartum incontinence may seem inevitable, it doesn’t have to continue and can be managed with the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist.


What the internet calls “Mom Butt” is a real postpartum experience for many breastfeeding parents. The truth about this slowly flattening behind is that the production of breastmilk for our young actually melts away our own gluteal-femoral fat to do it, thereby helping to turn our fat into the food source for our young.


Our physical bodies undergo changes after childbirth, and so do our emotional and spiritual ones. While we know intellectually that becoming a mother is a shift in identity so great, we can’t possibly know how much that change will affect our sense of self, the lens through which we see the world, and the way in which we understand our own place in relation to others. We need to talk more about this shift from non-parent to parent, how long it takes to process, and what that looks like in the weeks and months following birth.

Can I Bathe My Newborn?

While most parents are eager to give their babies the experience of their very first bath, it is important to ensure that your baby is truly ready. When you first bring your newborn home from the hospital, the stump of their umbilical cord must be kept clean and dry. While it is still attached, sponge baths are the best option for your baby.

Typically, after about 1 to 3 weeks, the umbilical cord stump will dry up and fall off. It is important to continue caring for the umbilical cord until the area completely heals. The ideal way to do this is to moisten one end of a cotton swab with water, gently clean around the base of the umbilical cord stump, and dry with the other side of the cotton swab.

Although moisture and drops of blood around the belly button is normal during this period of time, keeping the area clean and dry will help fight infection and prevent delayed healing. Check out our blog post on bathing a baby with an umbilical cord for more information.

Bathing Your Newborn
To get started, fill the baby bathtub or sink with just a couple of inches of warm water. Next, bring your baby to the bath area and undress them completely. Slowly place your baby in the bath, feet first, while supporting their head and neck above the water.

Remember to never, ever leave your newborn unattended in the bath – not even for a split second! You can use the plastic cup to pour warm water over the portion of their body that is not fully immersed in water, in order to prevent your baby from getting too cold during the bath.

Use your hand or the washcloth with a tiny amount of mild soap to gently wash your baby’s body. Ensure that their head and neck remain fully supported throughout the duration of the bath. After their whole body has been washed, use the plastic cup to gently rinse off the soap, and wipe your baby down with a clean washcloth.

Finally, slowly lift your baby out of the bath. Make sure to use an abundance of caution, as babies can be very slippery when wet! Wrap your newborn in a towel, and pat to dry. Your baby’s skin may still be peeling from birth, so you can also use a mild lotion before getting them dressed.

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