Once upon a time, you had to wait for the baby to be born before you knew for certain if it was a girl or a boy. This dark age of having to wait for the birth was only a few decades ago.
When ultrasounds and other tests came along that accurately showed the gender of the baby, it was a revelation, but there was some pushback against it. Lots of people (especially grandparents, it seemed) didn’t want to know the baby’s gender until the kid popped out in the delivery room. “It ruins the surprise!” they said. It didn’t matter if you pointed out that with the only choices being boy or girl, there wasn’t much of a real surprise.
But before ultrasounds, amniocentesis, and a test of the mother’s blood called cell-free fetal DNA testing (cfDNA), there were dozens of methods for predicting the baby’s gender. If you were carrying your baby high in your abdomen, it was said to be a boy. If you were carrying the baby low, it was probably a girl. If the linea nigra on your abdomen runs past your belly button, it was a sign you are having a boy.
There was also a method in which the pregnant woman lay on the floor and someone dangled her wedding band (or any ring) on a thread above her belly. If the ring started to move in a line, like a pendulum, you were said to be having a boy. If the ring moved in circles, you were having a girl.
The trouble with these methods is that none of them worked any better than flipping a coin. Basically, you have a 50% shot of being right when you predict the sex of a baby no matter what method you use.
But now the Internet is abuzz with a new prediction method: the Chinese Gender Chart. It is a large intricate chart and it uses your age and the date when you got pregnant to predict whether you are having a boy or a girl. The chart is said to predict a baby’s gender with upwards of 90% accuracy, maybe.
The trick is knowing what lunar month you were born in, rather than your calendar birth month. While there are a couple of sites that show the whole table of predictions, there are simpler systems that allow you to plug in your birth day and either the day of conception or the expected due date of your baby. (Your date of conception is about 266 days before your expected due date, by the way.)
Supposedly, this gender chart is more than 700 years old and was kept by the servants in the royal palace of China, who were eunuchs. It is based on the I Ching, an ancient Chinese religious text that is used as a divination tool and guide to life. The royal servants used the chart to help the Emperor and his consorts produce the all-important baby boys by calculating what days were best to have sex. But, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, the chart was lost. Many years later, the chart turned up in England and Europe.
So, how accurate is this method? It turns out that there are a few different versions out there and some confusion as to whether you really need to use your lunar month or calendar month. But researchers from the University of Michigan, Harvard, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden reviewed the records of nearly 3 million births in Sweden to check the accuracy of the Chinese chart. They found that the Chinese gender chart was right in predicting a baby’s sex about 50% of the time, which is the same rate that simply flipping a coin would give you. So, outside of the entertainment value, the chart isn’t really any use.
But, if you want, you can test the Chinese chart for yourself. If this is your second or third pregnancy, you can check out its accuracy for your previous pregnancies by plugging in your age and your older children’s birth dates. You can also try it with information from relatives or friends.
If you do test the chart, let us know how accurate it was in the Comments section!