If you’re deciding whether to find out the sex of your baby – or what is commonly called, finding out the gender – then you’re not alone. It can be a deeper thought process than you thought it would be.
Finding out the sex can come with an emotional reaction, no matter when you find out. That might catch you off guard. You probably care more about bringing a baby home for keeps, but give yourself permission to acknowledge that you might be wishing for one sex over the other. It’s something to process, without shame.
This also might impact if or when you find out the gender.
When you can find out the sex of your little bean
Here are potential opportunities to find out your little bean’s sex. This is partly or completely impacted by how you got pregnant and where you live.
- At birth.
- Using a blood test as early as 6 weeks with some products like Sneak Peek.
- At the 20-week anatomy scan or a later ultrasound.
- From the results of a blood test such as the NIPT around 9-12 weeks – although if you know you’re having twins, it’s possible to find out if both are girls but can’t confirm if it’s a boy and a girl versus 2 boys.
- By selecting the sex of your embryo(s) after embryo screening such as doing PGT-A in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle and live in a jurisdiction where you can learn of the sex of the embryos before transfer. For example, it is legal in United States, Mexico, Georgia, Ukraine. This is illegal in: Canada, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, China, India, and Cyprus. There are exceptions such as sex selection due to a genetic condition being screened for a pathology that’s only passed down by one sex.
- After screening embryos with PGT-A or other similar screening (e.g. PGT-M) in an IVF cycle and you can ask your embryologist after embryo transfer.
Reasons people wait to find out the sex
Here are some reasons why people wait until birth to find out the gender.
- They like the element of surprise.
- ‘Keepin it old school’.
- It matters very little to them.
- They feel worried and anxious about this pregnancy and having more information about the baby being real and makes them feel more connected to the baby and they;re not ready yet, whether because of a prior loss and/or anxiety, or other reasons.
- They buy or accept second-hand clothes that are gender neutral, or any type and decide which to keep after baby is born.
- They plan to have a baby shower after the baby is born.
Reasons people find out the sex earlier
- If it’s a boy, planning ahead if they’ll circumcise him or not.
- It gives you more hope that all will go well.
- To know what colour to paint baby’s room and what clothes and accessories to buy.
- It might bond them more to the baby (everyone is different with this).
- They might have an emotional reaction and want more time to process.
- To bring people together to bond over the pregnancy, such as through through a gender reveal party or just knowing the sex in general.
- To accept second hand clothes and stuff from family and friends that corresponds to the baby’s sex (eg boy from boy cousin or girl from friends baby girl) if that’s important to them.
- To plan for cultural traditions that happen if it’s a boy or a girl.
- To prepare for how to clean a diaper if baby has a penis or a vulva (this is usually learned ‘on the job’ and the key is not to wipe all the crevices either way!).
- Expecting twins or triplets and want as much information as possible to prepare ahead.
If you have a partner you might differ in when you want to know, whether one of you wants to keep it a surprise and the other doesn’t, or vice versa. Here are some considerations to help navigate some of the tricky bits.
- This is a decision and it’s a shared decision but you can certainly have a scenario where one of you finds out while the other doesn’t. Caution: it’s easy to accidentally spill the beans, so it’s best to have that consequence discussed ahead of time!
- Ask for the answer in an envelope and decide later.
- Talk about your or wishes and desires.
- Book a couples coaching session.
To do if you wait to find out the sex
If you do decide to wait, make sure to tell your doctor or midwife or ultrasound tech every time you first enter the room or start an appointment because they might forget even if you’ve told them before.
No judgement, you do your thing.