There are a lot of wives tales about pregnancy sickness and gender, but is morning sickness really gender related? In this guide, OBGYN Dr. Gleaton dives into the data.
Seventy to eighty percent of pregnant women experience morning sickness, making it one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. So what causes it, and is it true that the gender of your baby can play a role in its severity?
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness, otherwise known as NVP (nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) is a common symptom of early pregnancy. There’s no definitive cause of morning sickness, but some theories suggest that the increase in pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) could be to blame. Others say the combination of progesterone and estrogen could have a role in NVP.
Morning sickness can vary by pregnancy. Some women have nausea all day with occasional vomiting, some go through periods of regular vomiting, and others just feel queasy all day.
How long does morning sickness last?
We have some good news—morning sickness typically ends once the first trimester is over. It’s true some women can have symptoms during the second and third trimesters, but most cases only last for a few weeks.
Does morning sickness vary based on sex of the baby?
A 2020 study of 4,320 pregnancies found that women who carried female babies had slightly more severe NVP than those with male fetuses. On a scale of one to nine, pregnant women carrying girls reported a NVP score of 6.35 compared to women carrying boys who reported a 6.04. Although this difference seems small, it is statistically significant, meaning not due to chance.
There’s also data that supports the association between carrying a female fetus and HG (hyperemesis gravidarum), a severe form of NVP.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that if you’re carrying a boy you won’t get morning sickness. But it does mean there’s evidence to back up the old wives’ tale that having a girl is associated with more morning sickness.
Ways to remedy morning sickness
There’s no magic cure to stop pregnancy nausea and vomiting, but here are some ways to manage it:
- Eat frequent small meals or snacks throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try ginger, such as ginger tea, supplements, chews, and candies, because it can help settle your stomach (try The Good Morning Tea, made with organic ginger and peppermint).
- Take a prenatal vitamin. ACOG states that prenatal vitamins can reduce the risk of severe NVP.
- Switch up your meal times.
- Stick to the BRATT diet—foods that are bland and easy to digest such as Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, and Tea. It’s best to avoid any foods that are extremely spicy, acidic, or smelly.
What are other signs of being pregnant with a boy or girl?
While there may be some association between gender and NVP, most theories involving gender and pregnancy are just myths. Here are some common, but false, theories about pregnancy:
- Weight displacement: Some theories state that if you have a boy, you’ll carry your weight in your hips and bottom, and if you have a girl, you’ll carry the extra weight in your stomach. This isn’t true.
- Carrying low: Supposedly, carrying low means you’re having a boy, and carrying high indicates a girl.
- Nipple color: Dark nipples are said to be indicative of a boy.
Wives’ tales like these can be fun to share, but the reality is that every pregnancy is different, and it’s rare that any pregnancy symptoms are representative of your baby’s gender. People who use these symptoms to predict gender are right half the time! But I’d stick to an ultrasound and genetic testing to determine gender.
Managing pregnancy symptoms
Morning sickness is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms and can vary from person to person. While there’s been some association between gender and NVP, there’s no definitive research to prove that carrying a girl or boy will affect the severity of your morning sickness. Keep in mind that every pregnancy is unique and there are various ways to manage your morning sickness. The Good Morning Tea, the BRATT diet, and consistently taking prenatal vitamins are a good start.