Folk Belief – United States

“When you are pregnant, they say that if you carry low and look like a watermelon, it’s going to be a girl, but if you carry high and round like a ball, it’s going to be a boy.”

My sister, Patti, heard this first from my other older sister, Jennifer, who already had a baby girl. When Patti started showing four years ago when she was twenty six, people started examining the size of her belly and would tell her that she was going to have a boy. Her stomach was very round and did not appear very low.  Patti says that it is a pretty universal conception amongst mothers. People would not bring this topic up unless they are talking about a pregnant woman. When someone becomes pregnant, she starts hearing about all these stories from other people who have already had kids. It even comes from strangers that talk to you because you are pregnant when you are out in public.

This belief is recorded in Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American Folklore which is a compilation of Newbell Niles Puckett’s folklore collection. It states, “if a pregnant woman carries her baby high, it will be a boy,” but then it also states that “if a woman carries her baby low during pregnancy, it will be a boy.” These conflicting beliefs were collected from women living in Ohio. The same contradicting statements are documented for female babies as well. This demonstrates that many beliefs are held about determining a baby’s sex and that both of them could be both true and false. These statements are most likely all based off of observation, so to some degree, they have truth in them.

All mothers share the common lore of childbirth. With experience, they make observations and come up with conclusions about many different aspects of pregnancy. Using the belly’s size to determine the baby’s sex is only one of the many beliefs. Some women may encounter one type of belly that frequently results in a male baby, while others associate another type of belly with a female. It all depends on the person who is making the conclusions. If an expecting mother hears one type of belief and it ends up being true, then they will most likely share that with other expecting mothers. The odds of being correct are one to two, so there is a high possibility of being correct.

Annotation: Puckett, Newbell Niles. Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American Folklore. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall and Company: 1981. p. 27.