Waiting for anybody? Myths and signs about the future child's field
Most future parents want to know in advance the gender of the child. There are no "people's signs" and speculation on this score!
Elizaveta Novoselova obstetrician-gynecologist, Moscow
Who will be born - a boy or a girl? There are a great many reasons for such parental "curiosity". After all, the sex of the baby largely determines the future way of life in the family, its microclimate. Many women say that knowing the gender, it is much easier for them to imagine a child and start communicating with him during pregnancy. A lot of future parents want to determine the choice of a name for the child before his birth, and for this, again, it is necessary to know his gender. For many future mothers, information about the field is relevant when selecting a color scheme for a dowry for a baby. Sometimes parents even specially plan the sex of the future child and, of course, with special impatience await confirmation of their hopes. And finally, there is simply the impatience of loving parents: who is there, in the "kinder- surprise"?
Unlike our grandparents, for whom the sex of the expected child remained a mystery until the moment of his birth, modern future parents can satisfy their curiosity much earlier. The ancestors were forced to settle for this issue solely by popular perceptions, whereas modern science provides the possibility of determining the sex of the fetus with the help of ultrasound diagnostics - and already with 12 weeks of the intrauterine life of the baby, with good resolution of the apparatus and high professionalism of the doctor. It would seem that myths and beliefs must remain forever in the past. But, despite the achievements of modern medicine and the development of methods for additional diagnosis, there are situations where it is not possible to accurately determine the sex of the fetus - even with ultrasound.
In the first trimester, when the external genitalia are in the stage of formation and formation, ultrasound will not help in any way sex determination: у малыша на этом сроке просто еще не сформированы внешние отличительные признаки. Да и на более поздних сроках УЗИ тоже не всесильно: возможность определить пол (а значит – увидеть на мониторе половые органы) целиком зависит от расположения малыша в матке во время исследования. В случае, когда плод расположен спинкой вперед или сводит ножки вместе, половые органы могут «не визуализироваться», то есть врач не может их увидеть. И даже в том случае, когда определение пола с помощью УЗИ возможно, всегда сохраняется небольшой риск ошибки. До середины – конца восьмого месяца беременности яички у мальчиков не опускаются в мошонку, и она внешне мало отличается от больших половых губ девочек. Половой член – самое «достоверное» отличие мальчиков – может быть не виден между ножками плода; случается, что за детородный орган по ошибке принимают петлю пуповины или палец плода, расположенный в момент исследования в области паха. Конечно, такие ошибки довольно редки; тем не менее, стопроцентной гарантии в sex determination на основании ультразвуковой диагностики дать невозможно.
And in those cases when it is too early to use ultrasound or the doctor finds it difficult to answer, the "proven" folk methods come to the fore in the matter of sex determination. There is an incredible number of signs, beliefs and simply myths, with which future parents have always tried to guess the sex of the expected child. We decided to analyze the most common "folklore" methods of sex determination, to understand whether there is a real basis on which they are based, and how reliable they are.
Common misconceptions: Toxicosis
It is generally believed that the pronounced toxicosis of the first half of pregnancy is irrefutably indicative of the male child's field. The proponents of the myth motivate this statement by the fact that the boy, as a representative of the other sex, is "alien" to the mother than the girl, and therefore the boy's bearing is accompanied by a more pronounced negative reaction from the mother's body.
In fact, the manifestations of toxicosis in the first and second half of pregnancy are not related to the sex of the fetus. Toxicosis, manifested in the first months of pregnancy in the form of nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss, is in fact a pathological reaction of the mother's immunity to the very fact of pregnancy - the development of another organism in it. After all, the fetus can differ from the mother not only by gender, but also by blood type, Rh-accessory, and genome: we must not forget that half of the genetic information the infant receives from the father during conception.
In the normal course of pregnancy, immune reactions in the maternal organism are suppressed; immunity of the future mother as though "falls asleep", giving the chance of successful development and bearing of a fruit. Therefore, the manifestations of toxicosis - the aggressive reaction of the immune system to the fetus - always indicate a hidden pathology in the mother's body. The cause of severe early toxicosis can be a metabolic disorder, hormonal dysfunction, chronic infection, diseases of the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract or high allergic mood. Like any pathology of pregnancy, severe toxicosis can adversely affect the bearing and development of the fetus. Therefore, with symptoms such as persistent nausea, daily vomiting and a significant loss of appetite, it is necessary to consult a doctor to identify and treat the cause that caused this pathological reaction. But the sex of the child is absolutely nothing: many women who gave birth to a boy did not experience toxicosis during pregnancy, and, on the contrary, a considerable number of mothers of future girls resorted to the treatment of toxicosis.
Common misconceptions: Fetal wiggle
There is a widespread opinion that boys during the period of intrauterine development move more actively than girls.
In fact, the frequency of fetal movements is influenced by very different factors. Motor activity in the womb of the mother provides the fetus with the full development of skeletal muscles and allows to control blood circulation. Therefore too active, as well as too rare and listless movements can indicate not at all on the sex of the baby, but on the violation of blood flow in the vessels of the placenta or umbilical cord and the intake of less oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Fetal movements become more active and palpable with agitation, fatigue, a long uncomfortable posture, a mother's illness. In all these situations, placental blood flow decreases and, as a consequence, oxygen transport from the mother to the fetus worsens. When testing oxygen starvation, the baby begins to move more actively - thus he tries to accelerate blood circulation in embryonic vessels and restore the supply of oxygen. If the oxygen starvation of the fetus or intrauterine hypoxia continues for a long time, the perturbations, on the contrary, become rare and sluggish - the baby weakens. So too frequent and strong movements of the fetus - not a feature of "sexual" activity, but an excuse to call a doctor!
Common misconceptions: Palpitation of the fetus
Determining sex by the nature of the fetal heartbeat is probably not even a myth, but an outdated method of diagnosis.
Before the "era of ultrasound" in the late twentieth century, some doctors diagnosed the sex of the fetus according to the peculiarities of his heartbeat. To control the fetal heartbeat and determine its characteristics, an ordinary stethoscope was used - a wooden tube, one end of which is attached to the doctor's ear and the other to the pregnant belly.
In practice, doctors have noticed that the heartbeat of boys is distinguished by the sonority of the tones and frequency: it is usually somewhat louder and more frequent than in girls, and this was the basis for the definition of sex. But this method has never been very popular among doctors, since it is highly subjective; in medicine he was abandoned long ago. However, many pregnant mothers who have heard of this technique are trying to determine the sex of their baby with a phonendoscope - a device used by doctors to auscultate (listen) to the lungs, heart, etc.
The frequency of the fetal heartbeat in the norm ranges from 120-160 beats per minute, that is, twice as often as in an adult. The average heart rate is 140 beats, and this figure varies depending on the motor activity of the fetus, blood pressure and heart rate of the mother, the tone of the uterus and the time of day. The sonority of fetal tones also varies depending on its motor activity, location in the uterus and distance from its front wall. It is not difficult to guess how inaccurate this method is in principle, even if listening to the heart tones of the fetus produces a specialist. If the pregnant woman resorts to auscultation, the results can be the most unpredictable: after all, she will have to distinguish the baby's heartbeat among the mass of other sounds perfectly performed by the phonendoscope. This is the peristalsis of the intestine, pulsation of the abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava - large and much more "loud" maternal vessels. Even if the future mother will manage to disassemble the baby's heartbeat, she will not be able to interpret it by herself, because she has nothing to compare him with! So this method of determining sex, as well as the previous ones, does not stand up to criticism.
Common misconceptions: Pigmentation
The appearance of spots and streaks of dark color on the skin of a pregnant woman indicates that she is wearing a girl.
The folk attribute explains the appearance of pigment spots on the face by the fact that "the girl steals beauty from her mother". In fact, pigmentation, manifested most often on the cheeks, around the eyes, along the white line of the abdomen (more often from the navel to the heart), on the nipples and in the groin, is a functional feature of the adrenal glands of the mother's body. The amount of pigment produced by this body depends not on the sex of the fetus, but on the level and ratio of sex hormones in the blood of the pregnant woman, on her age and overall health. The appearance of brownish pigment spots on the face and body skin during pregnancy is considered a variant of the norm; such pigmentation does not require treatment and safely passes after childbirth. Therefore, harmless pigmentation spots on the skin of a pregnant woman with the sex of the fetus are not related.
Common misconceptions: Hypertrichosis
Hypertrichosis is the appearance and excessive growth of hair on atypical sites for the woman: on the face, around the nipples, on the stomach and buttocks, hips and forearms. According to the belief, such a strange "hairiness" of the pregnant woman indicates that she is waiting for the boy.
Apparently, our ancestors attributed the appearance and growth of hair to the male type in women during pregnancy with the male sex of the fetus. "Male line" in the issue of hypertrichosis of pregnant women actually exists, only to the sexual belonging of the fetus it has not the slightest relation. Hair distribution according to the male type indicates hyperandrogenism - excess in the blood of the pregnant male sex hormones androgens. Hyperandrogenism is an undesirable phenomenon for pregnancy: an excess of androgens causes an increase in arterial pressure and tone of the uterus, increases the viscosity of the blood and the tendency to form blood clots, leads to a pathological weight gain. These pathological changes can provoke abortion and general deterioration of health. Hypertrichosis during pregnancy is a serious reason for consultation with a gynecologist-endocrinologist.
Common misconceptions: Appearance
The popular proverb says that the boy "molodit" mom, and the girl - "old." It is believed that if a woman becomes prettier during pregnancy, she has a beautiful skin color, strong nails and teeth, lush hair - then she wears a boy. If the future mother has dull hair and brittle nails, small wrinkles appear, the skin pales and peels off, which means she is waiting for a girl who, like the myth about pigmentation, for some reason "steals" maternal beauty.
In fact, the condition of the hair, nails and skin of a future mother determines not the sex of the baby, but the vitamins and minerals that enter her body. First of all, iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins A and E, as well as many other useful microelements. Pale skin, hair loss and striae on the nails may be a symptom of anemia in pregnant women (reducing hemoglobin of the blood, which carries oxygen to the cells) due to deficiency of iron and folic acid. Vitamins responsible for the elasticity and tone of the skin, silky hair and shiny nails - A and E; dryness and lethargy of the skin, dull hair and nails signals a lack of these vitamins in the mother's body. For the strength of nails and hair meets calcium, it also provides white tooth enamel; with a deficiency of calcium teeth are crumbled, enamel fades and darkens.
The amount of these nutrients in the body of a future mother does not depend on the sex of the fetus, but on the diet, the intake of special vitamins for pregnant women and the normal operation of the intestine. Hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin and other "ugly" changes during pregnancy can be associated with a shortage in the menu of the future mother of meat, liver, eggs, vegetable and butter, spinach, herbs and dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, curdled milk) . Another no less frequent cause of vitamin deficiency is a violation of absorption of vitamins and microelements in the intestine against the background of the inflammatory process (enteritis, enterocolitis, gastritis), peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum, impaired liver, gallbladder and pancreatic function.
A deficiency in the blood of pregnant iron, calcium, vitamins A and E can be bad for the pregnancy and fetal development.
Iron is a part of hemoglobin, a protein responsible for the supply of oxygen to the fetus; calcium is necessary for the formation of bones and the laying of baby teeth, vitamins provide a full development of the nervous system and musculoskeletal system (elasticity of ligaments and joint mobility). Therefore, if, despite the full nutrition and intake of vitamins, the expectant mother worried about the deterioration of the hair, nails, teeth and skin, she should consult a doctor.
Common misconceptions: Weight gain
There is a belief that a pregnant woman gets more weight with a girl than with a boy.
In the old days, this "tendency" was explained very simply: they say the girls are reserved and force their mother to save their food for a rainy day, so the pregnant woman is greatly recovered. Boys, on the other hand, spends themselves and eat up their mother's stores, not allowing her to gain excess weight. Modern supporters of this hypothesis refer to the hormonal background of the pregnant woman, supposedly dependent on the sex of the fetus: the male hormones of the boy burn fat, and the female hormones that the girl gives out contribute to the appearance of excess weight.
In reality, just the predominance of male sex hormones in a woman, or hyperandrogenism, leads to a significant increase in weight - both during pregnancy and outside it. No connection with the sex of the fetus or the secreted sex hormones in the phenomenon of hyperandrogenism is not found - it is a violation of the hormonal background of the most pregnant. A significant increase in weight is a rather dangerous symptom for a future mother: extra pounds increase the burden on the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, spine and joints. Against the background of a pathological weight gain in a pregnant woman, the pressure often increases, the uterine tone increases, the placental blood flow decreases. As a result of such changes, the fetus lacks nutrition and oxygen - fetoplacental insufficiency develops, often leading to acute hypoxia (oxygen starvation) of the fetus. Pregnant women with significant weight gain (15 kilograms or more) are at risk for developing late toxicosis - gestosis, characterized by swelling, impaired renal function, increased blood pressure and protein loss. So the rapidly increasing weight of a future mother is not a way to determine the sex of a child, but rather a cause for concern about the health of the mother and baby and contacting the doctor.
Common misconceptions: The shape of the abdomen
If the pregnant belly has a "cucumber", that is, an oblong one and strongly protrudes forward - there will be a boy, the belly is an "apple" (wide and round) - a girl is expected.
Probably, this is the most common sign associated with the future child's sex. In fact, the shape of the abdomen depends on the amount of amniotic fluid, the position and size of the fetus, the shape of the pelvis and the tone of the anterior abdominal wall - in short, from everything except the sex of the baby! A round and "wide" abdomen can indicate a polyhydramnios, a large fetus or a multiple pregnancy, a transverse or oblique position of the fetus. The tummy, which strongly protrudes forward, often "speaks" of a narrow or flat pelvis, a weak press of the pregnant or pelvic position of the fetus. Therefore, the shape of the abdomen is an aspect of obstetric examination, no less important than the size of the abdomen and the shape of the pelvis; but only to judge by this sign about the future child's field, unfortunately, it is impossible.
Common misconceptions: Gait
If the woman moves gracefully, smoothly - there will be a girl, and sharp and angular movements foreshadow the appearance of the boy.
The smoothness of the movements of the pregnant woman is affected by the hormonal background (estrogens and progesterone - female sex hormones) and the cerebellum - the central nervous system department that regulates the coordination of movements. From what foot the pregnant woman steps - depends on the prevailing activity of the left or right hemisphere of the brain; with the baby's sex, this function is also not related.
Common misconceptions: Tastes of taste
If the table is dominated by pickles, marinades and meat delicacies - the boy is expected. If the main component of the diet is baking, sweets and fruit - there will be a girl.
The history of this myth does not cause doubts: people draw an analogy between the traditional taste preferences of men and women and unusual changes in taste during pregnancy. In fact, the gustatory predilections of a pregnant woman are associated with a shortage of certain substances necessary for the development of the fetus - regardless of sex.
Unfortunately, none of the above methods of "people's diagnosis" is not suitable for a reliable determination of the sex of the fetus. Do not trust the beliefs and place high hopes on them - these are just myths that have no real basis. The main method of determining the sex of the fetus is ultrasound diagnosis; Despite the small risk of error, this method is by far the most reliable. Even if, due to the peculiarities of the gestation period or the location of the fetus, the doctor finds it difficult to give an exact answer to the question about the child's field, do not be guessing at the coffee grounds - be patient and wait for the next ultrasound study. But actually to know the sex of the fetus is not so important - it is much more important to know that the baby is healthy, but in this issue, ultrasound is irreplaceable! Even if the kid remains a "kinder- surprise" for the parents on the sexual issue, it does not matter: the sex of the child is sure to be discovered ... during childbirth.
Common misconceptions and how things happen in reality
The sex of the child is formed during conception, at the moment of the fusion of the female and male germ cells (ovum and sperm). The egg carries the X chromosome. For the sex of the future child, the sperm "respond", which are initially divided into two groups - X and Y. Spermatozoa with a "charge" Y when merging with the egg determine the male sex of the XY embryo, and X lay the formation of the female XX.
Future boys - spermatozoa carrying the Y chromosome - are small in size and equipped with a longer "tail", allowing to develop a significant speed for this tiny cell. Thus, the gametes of group Y are very mobile and active, which, under otherwise favorable conditions, gives them significant advantages for the fertilization of the oocyte. However, spermatozoa with a charge Y also have disadvantages: they are not resistant to aggressive environmental conditions (high and low acidity, temperature changes). Another disadvantage of spermatozoa - "boys" - low life expectancy; even after falling immediately after ejaculation in the most favorable environment, Y-spermatozoa live on average no more than a day. In contrast, spermatozoa of group X, larger and, as a result, less mobile cells, adapt much better to external unfavorable conditions and retain the ability to fertilize at times up to several days.