My husband is one of eight grandsons, with no female first cousins. After my first son was born, I got lots of knowing smiles from those familiar with his male-dominated family tree and comments like, “Aren’t boys great? It will be so cute one day when he has a baby brother to play with.” Sure, boys are great. But I hoped to have a daughter, too.
So even though I knew the science was a little sketchy, I read up on the Shettles Method, which purports to increase the odds of conceiving the gender you’re pining for. There’s no health downside to this method for you or your baby””it simply has to do with the timing of intercourse””so if you’re rooting for pink or for blue, it can’t hurt to try! (And I did end up with a girl, for what it’s worth!)
Here’s what you will need to give gender selection conception a try:
- You need to know exactly when you ovulate. An ovulation predictor kit is a really good idea. Without one, of course you can make an educated guess about when you’re fertile, based on mid-cycle physical changes like breast tenderness and pain in one or both ovaries. But to give yourself the best shot at influencing your baby’s gender, you need to be pretty certain whether the egg has emerged yet from your fallopian tube or is still just hanging out, biding her time”¦
- You need to be willing to follow some rather weird rules, which range from whether you’re “allowed” to have an orgasm during intercourse to the kinds of foods you eat.
- You need to have realistic expectations. Odds of conceiving a boy vs. girl without any “special tricks” are around 50/50, and Shettles and other gender-influencing techniques might tip the scales to be 60/40 at most. If you truly can only live with a baby of a particular gender, your best bet is adoption. Shettles is for parents who would be thrilled to have a healthy baby of either gender, and are simply “rooting” for blue or pink to prevail.
The Boy Plan
Intercourse timing: The basic premise of Shettles is that sperm with the Y (or male) chromosome are faster but more fragile than X (or female) sperm. The female sperm are endurance athletes while the males are sprinters. So if you’re going for blue, you want to avoid intercourse until you ovulate or time it to occur just hours before. That way, no slow-but-steady girl sperm will be hanging out, waiting for Little Miss Egg to make her monthly appearance; the boy sperm will shoot right up to meet and greet her instead.
Intercourse position: If you want a boy, the daddy-to-be should be on top, to propel those fast-swimming boy sperm towards the egg at a faster speed. And ladies””how do we put this delicately?””try to have an orgasm; contractions in the uterus also help accelerate the trajectory of those fast-moving male sperm. Some people recommend keeping your legs/hips propped up afterwards for added measure.
Baby boy diet: A recent study found that women who always ate breakfast cereal every day and dined on potassium-rich foods were more likely to conceive boys than girls. Now that we’ve got breakfast covered, what about the rest of your menu, mamas on Team Blue? Eat sweet potatoes and “meaty” fish such as cod, halibut or rainbow trout for dinner, or top pasta with tomato paste or puree, and for lunch make a vegetarian chili from kidney beans and lentils. Yogurt is an excellent source of potassium as well, and the perfect snack or evening treat; eat it with some sliced dried prunes or bananas for even more of a potassium punch. Sweeten teas and desserts with blackstrap molasses instead of sugar.
If none of these foods appeal to you, add a potassium supplement to your vitamin regimen.
The Girl Plan
Intercourse timing: You’ll want to have lots and lots of intercourse, pretty much from the time your period is gone until you get really close to ovulation. If you’re using an ovulation predictor kit, every night will be date night until you get a positive test result indicating that you’re going to ovulate in the next two days. Warning: this approach does somewhat reduce the probability of pregnancy each cycle, since you’re taking a vacation on your most fertile days. But sperm can live inside your body for up to five days, and this approach gives those strong but slow-swimming X sperm a better chance to prevail.
Intercourse position: You want to go for a more “shallow” approach here”¦woman on top. Try not to have an orgasm, so that you’re not giving any propelled movement to the sperm. And once you’ve finished, go ahead, exercise, clean the kitchen. Get up and move!
Baby girl diet: Low-sodium apparently is the way to go if you’re rooting for an X sperm to win””as are dairy-based products, garlic and mustard. You’re trying to make your body chemistry more acidic to weed out those male sperm.
Will any of these measures guarantee that you’ll end up with the baby boy or girl you’ve been dreaming of? Absolutely not. While there is evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, suggesting that the Shettles Method can increase the odds of conceiving a baby of the preferred gender, we’re talking about likelihood, not absolutes.
But, as there’s nothing about this technique that’s potentially harmful, it’s worth a try””especially if what the ultimate thing you’re seeking is a healthy baby, boy or girl!
Jorie Mark is Vitacost.com’s Director of Marketing Communications and mom to three kids, ages 3 to 10.