Oh Baby! Should You Learn Your Baby’s Gender?
As week 18 of your pregnancy gets closer, you and your partner must ask yourselves a very serious question: Do we want to know the gender of our baby? Interestingly, being able to learn the sex of your child only became possible in the late ‘70s, so for most of human existence, this wasn’t even an issue! Today, some people find great peace of mind in learning their baby’s gender, while others are positive they want it to be a surprise. If you fall somewhere between those two certainties, this list of pros and cons can help you make your decision.
The Pros of Learning Your Baby’s Gender
It May Calm Your Current Children: Sometimes the thought of having a new baby in the family can make your existing kiddos feel nervous, anxious or scared. Talking about it in depth helps tremendously, of course, but sometimes knowing the gender can further ease their apprehension, says Hindi Zeidman, an infant mental health clinician. She adds, “Knowing whether they’ll have a little brother or sister can also help them feel involved in the preparation of the new baby.”
It Makes Baby Showers and Gifts Registries Easier: You may find that decorating your nursery, planning a baby shower, and creating a gift registry is far easier when you know the sex of your child. You can certainly go with a beautiful, neutral theme, but friends and family may have an easier time buying and planning when they know the gender.
You Can Decide on a Name: Choosing a name for your child when you’re still pregnant can help with the décor and planning mentioned above. It may also help you feel more bonded to your child. “When I talk to my baby in my womb, I can already call them by their name,” says Zaida Khaze, a mom of two girls and CEO of Wiggletot. She adds that the baby’s name feels more familiar to her once the child is born, and it may also sound more familiar to your child, as well.
You Can Talk About Circumcision: This is a very personal and private decision for each parent, and it takes time to talk through. “Knowing the gender of their baby sooner will allow [parents] more time to decide if they will circumcise a boy,” says psychologist Dr. Ronald Goldman. “This can be a stressful decision for some couples, and more time to investigate and discuss reduces the stress.”
The Pros for Waiting to Find Out Your Child’s Sex
If waiting until your baby is born to learn its gender is very important to you, note that you can obviously discuss things like sibling anxiety, names, and circumcision while you’re still pregnant. You can also create beautiful, neutrally colored nurseries, and purchase neutral clothing and other baby necessities, too. You’ll also probably find that even if it makes shopping more difficult for friends and family, they will support your decision and join in the excitement once your baby is born. Here are some other reasons why waiting is a good thing.
Ultrasounds Aren’t Foolproof: Science is good and it keeps getting better, but there are numerous stories of being told your child’s gender, only to later discover that the ultrasound reading was incorrect. “This can be agonizing for parents who thinking they were having a girl, and bought everything in pink only to find out later they were having a boy,” says Zeidman. A misreading can also create feelings of disappointment. The way to combat this is either wait until your baby is born, buy cautiously, or learn the gender closer to the due date when mistakes are less likely to happen.
It Takes Away The Disappointment of Finding Out: “As a mom of three, I have taken both routes in finding out gender, but have found greater satisfaction when we didn’t find out the gender,” explains parenting author and podcaster Kara Carrero. She just gave birth to her most recent child a couple weeks ago, and says they waited an additional 30 minutes after birth to see what the gender was. “My husband and I agreed that waiting to find out was important because it took any disappointment out of finding out. With our first two, I had wanted a boy so badly that I was upset finding out we were having girls. Instead of having to deal with disappointment for months, we simply experienced the excitement of a new child.”
It Gives You More Time and Flexibility to Choose a Name: Want to change your baby’s name at the last minute? If you’ve already told people the sex of your child, that may affect gifts and other customized purchases. Contrarily, not knowing until your child’s birth gives you ample time to choose a name, and minimizing upset if you decide to call an audible. It also will help minimize the amount of nudging and wink-winking people do when trying to help you decide to choose a name for your child. “Months of hinting names tend to make a pregnancy seem longer – trust me, I know,” says Khaze.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that the priority is a happy, healthy baby and family.
Wendy Rose Gould is a writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She covers women’s lifestyle topics for numerous digital publications, including InStyle, xoVain, Refinery29, Revelist, PopSugar and ModCloth. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or at WendyGould.com