Traditionally, there have been two ways to find out the sex of your baby before they are born. You can either find out through invasive procedures or in an ultrasound. Invasive procedures (amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling) are performed only to test for other serious medical conditions. Because they have a risk of causing miscarriage, many women will not have them done. On the other hand, finding out the sex from an ultrasound is never 100%, and can only be done from about 20 weeks of pregnancy onward.
A new test could completely change the way that we tell the gender of the baby during pregnancy. This test has developed from medical research to find ways to better test for health threats like haemophilia and other genetic disorders. However, the widespread appeal of the new procedure is obvious. It can give a 100% accurate result from around 7 weeks pregnant! To give you an idea of how early that is, I didn’t even know that I was pregnant with my youngest child until I was already 9 1/2 weeks. Most women don’t find out that they’re pregnant until 4-5 weeks. This means that very early in pregnancy you could find out whether you are having a boy or girl.
The other huge advantage is that the test doesn’t affect the baby in any way. Rather than actually testing the baby, the new procedure works by testing blood taken from the mother. If the mother is pregnant with a boy, there will be small amounts of Y chromosome (girls are XX; boys are XY) present in their blood. This means that the test is fairly easy for the mother (most women have several blood tests done during pregnancy anyway) and does not have any negative influence on the baby.
So far the test is not widely available, and will generally not be covered by insurance. However, it is starting to be performed by private clinics around the world. It’s not cheap (here in the UK it costs about £300), but it will let you know very early in pregnancy if you are having a boy or a girl. If you are interested in having the test done, you would need to talk to your doctor or check with clinics in your area.