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Mother knows best when guessing her baby’s sex

ANNE T. DENOGEAN Citizen Staff Writer

Intuition is more than just a gut feeling when it comes to an expectant mother’s ability to guess her unborn child’s gender, according to recent University of Arizona study.

Women who claimed to know the sex of their children were right 70 percent of the time in a preliminary study, said UA psychology Professor Victor Shamas.

”The findings took us by surprise,” Shamas said. ”We suspected that some of the women would have accurate intuitions about their infants but certainly not such a large percentage.”

To those who question why a UA researcher has pregnant women guessing at their children’s sex when modern technology has given us the sonogram with a 95 percent accuracy rate, this study isn’t about guessing games.

Shamas researches the role of intuition and inspiration in everyday life, and this study deals with the phenomenon known as mother’s intuition.

Everybody knows mothers have bionic ears and eyes in the back of their heads when it comes to dealing with their children. And there are tons of anecdotes about mothers whose dreams about their unborn children becoming a sports star or having the aptitude for making money turned out to be accurate.

”We think that mothers have some kind of sense of the identity of their child before their child is even born,” Shamas said.

But proving a mother’s intuitive connection to her child as a scientific fact is hard.

Shamas is focusing on the ability to determine gender as one proof of mother’s intuition because it is something easily proved and not influenced by a mother’s desires or attempts to shape a child.

Shamas said the study looked at 100 women at the Birth and Women’s Health Center in Tucson.

The women were split into two groups – those who had no preference for the sex of the child and women who had a preference.

Of the 64 who had no preference, 16 were eliminated from the sample because they believed they knew the sex through some other source, including old wives’ tales about the high or low position of the baby.

That left 48 women who said they believed they knew the sex of the child based on a dream, hunch or gut feeling.

Of those, 34 – or 70 percent – correctly determined the sex of the child, Shamas said.

He also found that of the 36 women who had a preference, less than half correctly predicted the sex.

”What it looks like is that when a woman has a strong preference, her preference is overriding whatever intuitive sense she’s picking up on,” Shamas said.

A Tucson mother of a 19-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy said she finds Shamas’ study clever and the results fascinating.

”It’s something that most women know but nobody ever told them that this is what actually happens,” said counselor/educator Lianda Ludwig.

She said she knew the sex of her first child from the second she learned she was pregnant.

”It didn’t feel like intuition. It felt like I knew this. There was no question in my mind . . . I never even thought about a boy’s name,” she said.

During her second pregnancy, she said, ”it just felt like a boy. I couldn’t imagine it was going to be a girl.”

Dr. Palmer Evans, who has delivered thousands of Tucson children over the past 20 years, said he’s never had the sense that women have the inside track on guessing the sex of their unborn babies.

”I would say it was half and half,” exactly what one would expect, he said.

”I think it would be interesting to expand on that study,” Evans said.

That’s exactly what Shamas plans to do with a new study of 400 pregnant women.

”One of the challenges with these findings has been getting the scientific journals in my field to publish them,” he said.

Although the research was done using accepted practices, the findings are inconsistent with what people believe, he said.

”There are people in my own department who are calling it a statistical fluke,” he said.

The much larger follow-up study should help quell those concerns, he said.

The results of the preliminary study will appear in November in an online publication, The Journal of Integrative Psychology.


Erika Morelos thinks her child will be a girl.

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