If you are pregnant or recently had a baby following sexual intercourse with more than one man, you may worry about who the baby’s father is. Although DNA tests are the only exact way to identify paternity, there are a range of other ways to identify the baby, with or without the father’s help.
1. Use of birth control.
No birth control is 100%. Most birth control, when used correctly, has a 98% or higher chance of protection against pregnancy. However missing a hormonal birth control pill or having a condom break means that you have no protection against pregnancy and in some cases, a higher fertility than normal. If you missed a pill on a specific date, then you’re highly likely to fall pregnant very soon after.
2. Tracking your cycle.
Although pregnancy is calculated from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, ovulation and conception happens an average of 14 days after the first day of bleeding. Ovulation is also accompanied by a clear mucus which is the consistency of egg whites. You can use this calculator to find an approximate ovulation date. Having sex when you’re not ovulating puts you at lower risk of falling pregnant, although it’s not a guarantee.
3. Blood type.
The baby’s blood type will fall within a certain group, based on the blood type of the parents. You can use this calculator to determine if your baby’s blood type matches a parent’s.
4. Recessive traits.
Certain genetic traits only appear in certain circumstances, based on the genetic data passed from both parents. Some recessive traits can include blue eyes, red hair and attached earlobes can all be recessive traits which can be used as a general indication of lineage.
5. Test another relative or sibling.
It’s possible to test another family member, such as a grandparent or sibling of the baby, to determine if they are a blood relation.
6. General appearance and emotional connection.
Although not absolute indicators of paternity, a father’s connection with his child and how similar the two look can help determine relation to some extent. However these are not guaranteed methods of identifying a baby’s paternity, as some fathers have difficulty bonding in the first year and some babies look more like their mother’s side of the family.
If you do need to have a paternity test, it’s often best to wait till after birth, to avoid the risks of amniocentesis for mother and baby. There are also newer tests, such as the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test, which can test the mother’s blood for circulating fetal DNA without risk to the baby.
A paternity test done after birth consists of a single swap of the inside of each test participant’s cheek and is not painful or risky. It’s important to check the quality of the testing procedure as some types of tests may not hold up in court.