- Women's Health»
Should I Find Out the Gender of My Baby?
Pregnancy becomes a time of a lot of different decisions and sometimes it feels as if they are piled up on us. One decision is whether or not you are going to find out the gender of your baby. Technology makes it easier to find out the gender of the baby then ever before. But should you?
The truth of the matter is that it is up to you. No one else can make the decision for you and there are pros and cons to each side of the argument. It often comes down to the factors that are most important to you.
The Reasons to Find Out as Soon As Possible
Makes it easier to pick a name. Choosing a name can sometimes be hard work. Knowing whether the baby is a boy or girl often cuts down the decision making and debating in half. You only have to read half of the name book and work to get your favorites approved by the other parent for one gender, saving time and energy.
Buy gender specific clothing. If you walk through the baby section at any clothing store, or even at Wal Mart you find lots of pink, lots of blue, and a tiny bit of yellow and green. The sad thing is that most of the yellow and green are still fairly gender specific with bows and lace or trucks and cars. Finding a good variety of clothing that isn't gender specific is a challenge.
Have a gender specific baby shower. Often times, baby showers are done during the pregnancy. Family and friends love seeing mom when she's big and often times feeling a bit miserable. It is exciting and fun to celebrate the coming baby. However, planning a baby shower isn't easy when you don't know the gender. Plus gifts are often gender based, such as pink blankets, blue clothes, or even a gender specific car seat!
*One option though is to have a baby shower after the baby is born. This can be a lot of fun as well since everyone can pass the baby around and friends or family that have to travel can come and meet the new little one. This also solves the boy girl present issue and allows you to choose a few neutral items and clothes and get a lot of gender specific things later. You can also choose hand me downs that are neutral or can be neutral. Blue pants don't have to be just for a boy, match them with a white shirt and a yellow sweater and it could go either way!
Decorating the nursery. Decorating the nursery is something that is good to have done before the baby arrives and is often a more enjoyable process when it is done for a specific gender. However, you do have some options for planning a neutral nursery.
Hoping for a boy or girl. Some parents don't care either way. They are just thrilled to be having a baby. However, there are lots of us that would like a specific gender. While knowing the gender of the baby early won't change the fact any, it does help one prepare for the event. They can get used to the idea and are usually thrilled to meet their child rather then disappointed that it isn't the gender they wanted.
Bonding with your child. Many parents have a hard time bonding with their baby. It just doesn't seem real. This can be especially true for a dad who isn't as much a part of being pregnant. Knowing the gender can make it easier to bond with the baby. You can talk with him and her easily, call them by name, and feel like you are getting to know them all before they actually arrive.
Help ease older brothers and sisters into excepting the new baby. On a similar note, it can be easier to help older siblings ease into the idea of being a big brother or sister. You can tell them stories about what it will be like to meet their little brother or sister, sharing a specific name can make the baby more real, and they can talk to the baby as well.
Like to feel like you are in control. There are some people who like to be in control and don't really like surprises. Pregnancy (and parenting) offer a lot of surprises and a lot of times when it doesn't feel like you are really in control. This is one thing that it is easy to control (as long as the option is available!).
Helps with locating hand me downs. Hand me downs are a lot easier to locate when you know what you are looking for. Maybe your best friend has a six month old girl who is getting big and growing out of her little items. If you have a girl you can use the items. Or if you have a child already you can know if you can use those things again.
Gender related celebrations can be planned. Often times, having a baby can mean a lot of things. If you have gender related celebrations that will need to happen after the baby is born, it is easier to handle these things before hand. Most commonly this includes a circumcision ceremony (bris).
If there are gender based genetic issues that could mean medical problems, it can help to know the gender. Boys have a bigger chance of getting several genetically passed down disorders and diseases. For those that have to deal with these things it is often easiest to be ready to deal with them ahead of time. Some of these can be hemophilia, duchenne muscular distrophy, adrenoleukodystrophy, and fragile x syndrom. These things can be passed on from a mother to her children through the x chromosome. Girls have two x chromosomes and unless the father has the problem will become carriers. Boys on the other hand, will have the problem if they get an x chromosome from their mom that has the issue because they get a y chromosome from their dads.
There are also some issues that are more likely to effect boys then girls but aren't directly related to the x and y chromosomes. For example, club feet run in my family. This has to do with the feet turning in or out severely. My brother was born with ridged club feet and no heel formations. This meant that he spent the first four years of his life in casts and having surgeries. I could be a carrier and while girls can have it (my aunt and two of my cousins had mild cases that were corrected with special shoes), boys are more likely to have severe cases. My mom was very worried about her grandson both before and after he was born.
Why not? It's still a surprise. Many people will argue that you should save that surprise for the time of birth. However, whenever you find out it can be an exciting time and it can make the whole family, friends, and even strangers that you meet who ask you excited.
I had an emergency ultrasound at nine weeks. Everything turned out to be all right, but the insurance company would only pay for one ultrasound unless something was wrong. Well, we went through most of the pregnancy with nothing going wrong.
My husband firmly believed that we were having a son and we named "him". We went around calling "him" Marcus though many told us that we would probably be disappointed when "he" finally arrived. For me, I couldn't imagine being disappointed should our baby turn out to be a girl.
Any how, July 19th came with labor pains. After having them most of the day and watching them get closer and closer we went to the hospital. It was three in the morning when we arrived (really the 20th already). The labor didn't progress, but the baby's heart beat had had a few irregularities so they sent me for an emergency ultrasound at five in the morning. We were asked if we wanted to know. We did, but no matter how hard the technician searched, she couldn't see enough to offer a guess.
Everything was fine and I was sent home with a sleeping pill. The doctor said I would take the pill, sleep, and probably wake up without contractions and he would see me in his office in a few days. Well, it just didn't work out that way. I went home, took the pill, took a shower, and sat on the toilet to have my water break. We picked up my mom on the way to the hospital and had a baby very quickly. I remember my mom yelling out, "Oh my gosh, he really does have balls!". We had a beautiful baby boy!
The Reasons to Wait
The surprise. There is no doubt about it. Being pregnant is full of surprises and for some the ultimate surprise is to have the doctor say, "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" after all the hard work of birth is getting close to being over. This is the biggest argument for waiting. Many couples look forward to the surprise and enjoy the process of not knowing.
The tradition of it all. Women have been having babies for a very long time. They go through the process of being pregnant and of not knowing if they are having a boy or girl. For a long time now pregnancies have been finished with a midwife or doctor declaring the gender of the baby. Saving it for later can be a continuation of tradition.
Making the last few weeks of pregnancy more bearable. The last few weeks of pregnancy are often the hardest. You want to be done being pregnant. You are big and awkward. Sometimes the surprise of waiting can make it a lot easier to bear.
Hearing the words. Hearing the words often brings about a sense of wonder and for many this is what they have been waiting for. It is the sunshine after the rain (labor).
Keeping the fantasies of your preferred gender alive. Most parents fantasize about their coming baby. Whether they just enjoy thinking about it as a baby that could be a girl who looks like...will do...or a boy that plays... or they have a gender they would really like, many parents like keeping the fantasies alive and the dreaming going as long as possible.
Annoying the relatives. Many relatives are annoyed that you are keeping this secret from them! They want to know the gender and many couples who have chosen not to find out the gender declare that they have enjoyed annoying friends and family.
Concern about mistakes. Mistakes can and do happen. The ultrasound is the most common way of finding out the baby's gender and it is also the hardest one to determine the gender with. Sometimes a baby's position is such that it is hard to figure out and some technicians make mistakes. Other options include genetic testing. While these methods are usually only used if there are genetic issues or it appears that there may be problems with the baby lab mistakes occur occasionally and have been known to cause issues. While planning for a baby without knowing its gender can be a little harder, there is an issue when you think you know the baby's gender and buy pink dresses, paint the nursery pink and purple, and have a "it's a girl!" baby shower only to find out "It's a boy!" is quite the surprise.
Discourages emphasis on gender. Some parents like a more gender neutral approach to the matter and not knowing the gender can help keep down the girly girl things or the overly boy things. You can then choose a unique color pallet or one that includes pieces of all the colors.
Not having the ability to choose other wise. Sometimes parents can't choose to know. It could be that the insurance wouldn't pay for another ultrasound and it is a pricey test to pay for on your own such as in my case or it could be that the baby was in a position or crossing his or her legs and it isn't something the ultrasound technician can tell you.
Ways to Find Out the Baby's Gender
There are three tests that you can get which often reveal the baby's gender. The most common is the ultrasound or sonogram. However, this is the least reliable test to reveal the gender but is a common method. The other options are amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Both of these tests are usually reserved for those at higher risk of genetic diseases or birth defects. However, both test results will also offer finding out the gender as an option. These tests are reliable as long as there aren't any lab mistakes.
Did you/do you want to know the gender of your baby?
Old Wives Tales
There are lots of old wives tales. If you don't know the gender of the baby then friends, family, and even strangers are likely to offer their opinion according to their experiences or old wives tales. These are fun and can be humorous. Most are harmless and their are even a lot of tests online for finding out the answer. These can even be fun if you know the gender, just to see what they say. As long as they don't involve chemicals (one involves rubbing drano on the belly which is dangerous) then have fun withit.
Remember that they aren't always going to be right. I had an older woman who was a friend of the family say it was a girl because I was carring "her" high and all over. The nurse said it was a boy because of "his" heart beat and one woman in the store (who I had never met before) told me it was a boy because my butt looked big. I took three online quizzes which told me that my baby was a girl and so far all of the predictions that my husband has made have been right and he said it was a boy. In the end, not all of them could be right!
In the end, each couple has to make his or her own decision. It isn't always an easy one and there are some great reasons for chosing either way. It all depends on what is most important for you and many feel that finding out the gender of their baby ahead of time is easiest.