Can You Tell Your Baby’s Sex by Heartbeat?

While old wives tales can be amusing, neither midwives, OB’s or physicians use the baby’s heart rate as a determiner of sex.

A study mentioned in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, “found there was no difference in male and female fetal heart at anytime during pregnancy.” and the results of another study, published in Britain’s Clinical Science (92, 345–349, 1997) echoed these findings.

Where Did the Myth of Heartbeat Predicting a Baby’s Sex Come From?

Historically, before modern technology like ultrasounds, various myths and methods were used to predict a baby’s gender. The Distaff Gospels, a collection of medieval European women’s medical lore, included several gender prediction methods based on the behavior and preferences of the expectant mother.

These ranged from the direction a man faces during intercourse to influence gender, to observing the way a pregnant woman walks or what cravings she has. Even though these methods lacked scientific backing, they were a part of folklore and cultural practices in a time when understanding of human biology was limited​​.

What Does Your Baby’s Heart Rate Actually Mean?

The scientific explanation behind why the myth of determining a baby’s sex by heartbeat is inaccurate lies in understanding fetal heart rates. Fetal heart rates can vary due to several factors like the baby’s activity level, gestational age, and the mother’s health, but these variations are not linked to the baby’s gender. Heart rates in fetuses can fluctuate between 120 to 160 beats per minute, and these rates change as the pregnancy progresses.

These variations are normal and are not indicative of the baby’s sex. Instead, they reflect the developmental stages of the fetus and the physiological conditions within the womb. For a detailed understanding, it’s best to consult scientific resources or medical professionals.

The Modern Approach to Determining Baby’s Gender

In conclusion, while old wives’ tales about predicting a baby’s gender, like the heartbeat myth, are interesting, they lack scientific backing. In reality, doctors use medical technologies, such as ultrasound, to accurately determine a baby’s sex. Ultrasound works by using sound waves to create images of the baby in the womb. The sex is typically identifiable on ultrasound by about 18-22 weeks of gestation, although it can vary. This method provides a reliable and scientific way of discovering the baby’s gender, far removed from the realm of folklore and myth.


Unborn Baby. Mental Floss.

Oguch O, Steer P. Gender does not affect fetal heart rate variation. Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1998 Dec;105(12):1312-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1998.tb10011.x. PMID: 9883924.


April is Violet's mom. April founded Babies for Beginners in 2020, following the success of her first authority website, Cloth Diapers for Beginners. April is an author and experienced writer with 15 years of experience writing, publishing, and editing for various newspapers, magazines, books, and blogs.

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