You mentioned that you're 17 weeks along, and in just a few days, you're going to be able to find out if you're having a boy or a girl. And some doctors' offices do offer gender-check ultrasounds as early as 16 weeks, that's usually the soonest you can tell if it's a boy or a girl, but usually they're done at 20 weeks. And this is a big milestone in pregnancy, you're halfway there, but at this point, the doctor wants to do an ultrasound to test the growth of the baby, and also to look at all the baby's organs, make sure that things are developing properly, look at the location of the placenta, look at the cervix, make sure it's not prematurely shortening or something, so this is a very important ultrasound. And even though you get the gender of your baby checked sooner, be sure to also keep your appointment for your 20 week ultrasound, when all of these important things are checked out.
Now even at 16 or 17 weeks, when you can usually tell what it is, there is a chance that it might be a mix-up, and there's a few different factors that go into it. There's no good study to show how often it's called wrong, but some new stories have been run in the past that have said that 1 out of every 10 might be inaccurate. So let's say you plan for a girl, you have showers for a girl, and then out comes a little boy, and you're going to be returning a lot of pink stuff. So it does happen, but it's not that common. Early on, like 16 or 17 weeks, like I mentioned, it is possible for girl parts to look a little bit like boy parts. The female clitoris and labia can actually be enlarged and swollen at this point, they're not fully developed, and it can look like a penis and testicles. That's possible. So as the pregnancy goes on, it will become more obvious which one it is.
There's also factors like the baby's position, and the uterus. And so if the uterus has a lot of scarring, if there's a lot of other things going on, it might make it a little bit harder to tell. It's not a for sure bet that you'll be able to get a good glance when you have your ultrasound. Sometimes you have to do it again a few weeks later to get a better shot. And even then, things like the umbilical cord can be in the way. And this is pretty easy to determine, "Is it an umbilical cord or boy parts?", because the umbilical cord has blood flowing through it and it pulsates. And so there's actually a setting on the ultrasound machine where if you put it over a certain part that you're looking at, it will show blood-flow, and you can tell if it's a cord or not. So that's pretty easy to rule out. There's also very definitive signs that tell you it's a female. When we're looking around on Labor & Delivery, for fun, at our own babies when we're pregnant, sometimes we call it the McDonald's sign. There's 3 distinct lines if it's a female. So there's different things that the ultrasonographer will be looking for.
Of course, another factor is the experience and skill of the ultrasonographer. The more experience they have, the more likely it will be that what they tell you is right. If the person doing the ultrasound isn't as experienced, or they're not certified, then there's a greater chance that what they tell you might be wrong. But because you'll also have an ultrasound at 20 weeks again, then at least you have 2 chances to see what gender you're having. And if there's any uncertainty at the one coming up, then just wait before you have a gender reveal party or tell family and friends. Good luck with everything, and if you have any other questions for me in the future, feel free to ask them on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/IntermountainMoms, and recommend us to your friends and family too.