When you are pregnant one of the few decisions you have real control over is whether you are going to find out the sex of your baby.
It’s remarkable to think that just a generation or so ago, having an ultrasound scan and being able to find out the sex of your baby before it is born was largely unheard of.
But these days, when a couple announces that they are expecting a baby, one of the first questions anyone asks is either: ‘Are you going to find out the sex of your baby?’ or ‘Do you know what you’re having?’
More parents are choosing to find out the sex of their baby
With advances in modern technology, and the opportunity to have private scans and tests as early as 10 weeks, more and more parents are choosing to find out the sex of their baby.
In fact, it’s so common these days to find out, it’s almost expected. My own decision to wait until the birth was questioned constantly during the second half of my first pregnancy. People simply couldn’t understand why I didn’t have to know there and then.
‘Don’t you want to be able to plan and buy lots of nice clothes?’ asked the receptionist at the gym. ‘How can you pick out baby names when you don’t know what you’re having?’ quizzed a colleague. ‘How can you decorate the nursery when you don’t know the colour!?’
From the response, you’d think I’d deliberately chosen to expose my unborn baby to a harmful disease. But I am, and always will be, 100% happy with our decision to wait.
Typically, pregnant mums-to-be go for an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks, and it’s at this scan the sonographer can usually tell whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to find out the sex of your baby, here are 5 reasons why it’s good to wait…
It’s the MOST wonderful surprise
Alright, I get it. Even if you find out at the 20-week scan it is still a surprise, but what better reward for all that hard work and effort during labour and childbirth than to learn the sex of your baby?
‘In the build-up to the birth you get to enjoy the speculation, not knowing if you’re carrying a boy or a girl,’ explains mum of seven Tanya Hatton, from Ham. ‘The surprise at the end when you finally meet your baby is the greatest feeling.’
Mum-of-two Holly Christie agrees: ‘I enjoyed not knowing.’ And Zoe Duff Prindiville says: ‘I wanted a bit of a surprise after all the pain!’
There are very few genuine surprises in life, but looking down at the baby you have just given birth to and discovering whether it is a boy or a girl is the most incredible one of all. With my first child, I was amazed to see I had a daughter, because all my husband’s side of the family are boys. It was the most fabulous and unexpected surprise!
It’ll piss off your mother-in-law!
Having a baby is a life-changing adventure and naturally one that your loved ones and friends are going to be interested in. However, if you’ve got a control freak in your family who wants to be more involved in your pregnancy than you’re happy with, they won’t like not knowing whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl! Likewise all the random strangers who ask what you’re having, as though it makes a blind bit of difference to them.
‘I can’t tell you how many people were annoyed that I didn’t find out,’ says one mum, from Hounslow. ‘But it makes it even more special for you and your partner to not know.’
If you are happy waiting, it’ll drive other people crazy and it’ll also give you a feeling of control over something during late pregnancy when it feels like your whole body has been taken over by the baby that you’re carrying. It’s nice to have that power!
Avoid gender stereotyping for longer.. and get better gifts!
Besides the inherent perils of undertaking a nappy change on a baby boy whilst sleep-deprived, there really isn’t that much difference between caring for a newborn boy and a baby girl. But the moment you tell people what sex your unborn child is they will start dispensing ‘advice’ about bringing up boys or girls. Gender stereotyping is alive and well, you know. Just wait until all those gifts of pink or blue baby clothes start piling up! At least when no-one knows all those well-wishers will have to think outside the box when it comes to gifts for you and the baby. Hello gift cards and practical presents!
It keeps the excitement higher
While this can be true for all pregnancies, this one is definitely aimed more at those on their third baby or beyond, especially if you’ve already had a boy AND a girl.
‘We found out the sex with our first two children – a girl and a boy – but wanted a surprise for our last baby,’ says mum-of-three Georgia, from East Molesey. ‘It keeps friends and family on their toes, so the excitement level is where it should be!’
There’s also nothing more awesome than looking down at your pregnant belly and not knowing whether those feet kicking your internal organs and pressing on your bladder will belong to a boy or a girl, and wondering what he or she will grow up to be.
Motivation during childbirth
It doesn’t always happen this way, but it’s safe to say that labour and childbirth can be a long and drawn-out process. Having something to look forward to – besides meeting your baby – can be a strong motivating factor in the delivery room.
When mum is coming to the end of a long and tiring labour and struggling to find the energy for those last few pushes, the thought of finding out the sex of the baby could really help her keep going.
‘I wanted my partner to be the one to tell me if it was a boy or a girl,’ says first-time mum Laura Fox, a teacher who works in Twickenham. ‘In this day and age you can find out almost everything at the touch of a button. This way you actually have to give birth to find out!’
So, are you going to find out the sex of your baby?
Choosing whether to find out the sex of your baby is a personal decision and there really is no right or wrong answer. The problem comes when you and your partner can’t agree on whether to find out or not. But if you both love a little mystery in your life and can embrace the joy in NOT knowing, what better than to wait until you meet your baby in person?
And if you’ve already decided, join the conversation and tell us below why you went one way or the other. I would love to hear more!