Folk Methods: Determining an Unborn Baby’s Sex

On Thursday 18 February I spent the day working at one of my favorite remote locations.  I like the staff there, and have a high regard for my agency colleagues whose positions are housed under its roof.  I normally work through any kind of formal lunch break, usually waiting to eat until after I’ve completed testing and the client has left the milieu.  Then, I work until I’ve completed scoring, charting, and have written up the interview.


Thursday, however, I took my lunch in the breakroom with our interpreter and two or three local staff members who were already there.  One of the staffers is pregnant, and said she is due in about six weeks.  She said that she and the baby’s father planned to find out about their unborn child’s sex by sonography.  Another woman came in to the breakroom and joined the conversation.  She made a pot of coffee, and said her first grandchild was scheduled for delivery around midnight.  She mentioned that her daughter opted against the use of ultrasound to find out whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

Conversation then turned to non-scientific means for determining the sex of an unborn child.  Two folk methodologies were discussed in detail – the Broom-Straw Method and the Draino Method.

The Broom-Straw Method

The Broom-Straw Method requires the use of a broom-straw.  We didn’t discuss the relative merits of naturally occurring straw or the nylon-strand variety for the purposes of this application.  The very pregnant woman is asked to lie on her back and expose her midriff.  The full-length broom-straw is set lengthwise, that is running head-to-toe, upon the abdomen’s apex.  If the straw is observed to rotate (clockwise or counter-clockwise – direction of rotation was not discussed), then the unborn child is a boy.  If the straw rocks from end-to-end along its length, then unborn baby is a girl.

Another use for the broom-straw is in determining the ripeness of watermelons.  The method is this:  One lays the broom-straw across the green, and only the green, portion of the watermelon.  If the straw exhibits rotational movement, it is ripe.

The Draino Method

The Draino Method requires that the woman wishing to know the sex of her unborn child obtain Draino crystals.  The woman’s urine should then be combined with with Draino crystals in a safe container, and then stirred.  If the resultant mix is green, the sex of the child is female.  If blue, the child’s sex is male.  Or is it the other way around?  Very frankly, I should have written this down upon auditing the discussion.  Perhaps a reader will comment.

An Experiment

Terry, the woman whose daughter, Brandi, was scheduled to give birth late night of the 18th, or early on the morning of the 19th, said when asked that her daughter might be willing to participate in a broom-straw experiment.  She telephoned to her daughter, who agreed to present and take part in the experiment sometime during the afternoon.  I returned to my work in a nearby conference room, and became so absorbed in my tasks that I was somewhat startled when I do not know how much later Terry stuck her head in and told me that Brandi had arrived.

I wish to make it known that I had no part in the experiment except as an observer.  Because I had with me the camera I usually carry, I asked Brandi for and was granted permission to photograph the proceedings.


What we observed was that, after the broom-straw was placed as pictured above, it exhibited slight rotational movement – no more than about two centimeters’ movement.  The straw was removed and replaced a once or twice with the same results.

On Monday morning of this week, I returned to the county office where the experiment was conducted and again spoke with Terry who told me that her grandson, Carver Daniel, was born 1-19-10 at 12:58 p.m.  His weight at birth was 8 pounds 9 ounces, and he measured 21.5 inches in length.  I am happy to report that mother and son are both healthy and doing well.

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