Boy or Girl
Finding a Class
Finding Out the Sex of Your Baby
Finding out the sex of your baby prenatally is a choice that is very personal.
This FAQ will discuss some of the ways to find out the sex of your baby, it will identify the risks of each
test, the reliability, and discuss some of the reasons to decide either way. This
will be followed by some of the responses that I received from misc.kids.pregnancy newsgroup.
Robin Elise Weiss, ICCE, CD(DONA), NACA, BCCE
- How to Find out the Sex Before Birth
- Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
- Personal Stories and Decisions
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
This diagnostic test is usually performed between 8 and 11 weeks gestation, sometimes as late as 13 weeks.
This is generally a test for people who have a high risk of genetic abnormalities. Test results are available within 7 to 14 days.
Miscarriage rate from CVS is about 4%, recent studies indicate that if the CVS is done before 10 weeks
gestation there is an added risk (.5% to 1.7%) of limb deformity, and about 3% CVS is associated with serious decline
in amniotic fluid protection. There is a greater incidence of false positives because of the differences between the cellular genetic material
of the choirionic villi and the fetus. There is a small chance that the sex they determine is wrong as well.
This diagnostic test is performed as early as 9 weeks and for diagnostic purposes, 18 weeks gestation.
There is a risk of 1-1.5% miscarriage and 1% chance of other pregnancy complications (infection, premature labor, injury to the fetus, cord, or placenta, rupture of membranes, etc.).
The tests take about 2-4 weeks to run. There is a small chance that the sex they tell you is incorrect.
While ultrasound can be performed at any stage of pregnancy for the purpose of finding out the sex it is best done between 18 and 26 weeks.
Most care providers will not give an ultrasound for the specific purpose of finding out the sex, and the American College
of OB/GYNs has issued a statement against routine ultrasound exposure during pregnancy. However, most physicians do not heed this warning.
Adequate studies on ultrasound safety have not been done, but we do know that ultrasound exposure can change the way the cell reproduces and
moves. There have also been studies indicating that ultrasound heats up the cells. This method is the most frequent for finding out the sex of a baby,
however, it is the least accurate. Accuracy depends on several factors: baby's cooperation, gestational age, technician's ability, etc.
- There are many decisions to be made and everyone has their "reasons" for whichever way they choose. I will try and list a few:
Reasons to find out the baby's sex:
Reasons to wait:
- Pick only one name
- Buy sex specific clothes
- Decorate the nursery
- Bonding with a specific baby
- Why not?
- Like the surprise
- Help make the last few weeks of pregnancy bearable, not knowing
- Could have fantasies about either sex
- To annoy relatives
- Did not have the need for the technology
- Some couples I have taught have shared some "games" they played:
- Find out the sex, but have the technician write it on a piece of paper and seal it. Take it to the birth with you.
- Find out the sex of the baby but don't tell anyone else.
- Make your own up and share it with us
- I work in a hospital, so I had a few ultrasounds to find out what it was
and was told it was a girl. Well we were excited either way as long as
it was heathy. We decorated the room fairly neatral with pink curtains
and pink carpet and the baby showers were planned to get girl things.
Well the day before I delivered three people I ran into said "oh you are
having a boy, congratulations. I can tell by the way you are
carrying." After thirteen and a half hours of induced labor my
beautiful baby boy arrived and blessed us. My next pregnancy I really
think we will not try to find out. No matter what it is we will live it
unconditionally. Also we do have clothes for either gender for the
first couple of months. -Tara G. EAFB, FL
- "I had an amnio done, so I had the option of finding out my baby's sex.
I wanted to find out because I would have preferred a girl, and if it
was a boy, I wanted time to prepare myself. Also, if my doctor was
going to know, I'd surely want to know.
- Turns out, he's a boy, and due in two months. Knowing he's a boy has
been great at enabling me to think about him, dream about him, and
become close to him. It's also made it easier to name him and buy
clothes for him (I'm no sexist, but I'm not going to put him in frilly
- There haven't been any cons for me on this one. Both my husband and I
are glad we know. We tell people if they ask; we're not keeping it a
- "My husband and I decided that we wanted to know the sex of our baby. We
both REALLY wanted a boy and as fate would have it, we were pleasantly
surprised! We chose to find out the sex because of limited funds, etc.
We found that knowing the sex enabled us to decorate the nursery and ask
for gifts which were gender specific. We both agree that this did save
us money in the long run. However, should we have another baby we've
already decided to not know the sex (I made this decision so that during
labor I'll have something to give me that "extra motivation", I hope!)." -HH
- "We chose to find out the sex of our first child basically because we were
curious and excited about the prospect of knowing RIGHT THEN. I guess it
was a lack of will power thing. I don't know about my husband (whether
he wished he had waited to be surprised) but I can say I am VERY GLAD I
found out before the birth.
- I didn't realize just how much I had hoped to have a boy first until I
found out we were having a girl. All my life I had wanted an older
brother for my daughters so he could protect them and they could date his
decent friends (although I haven't the faintest idea where that ideal
came from. I had an older brother who teased and beat me up and very few
of his friends were decent.). Knowing my first child would be a girl
ahead of time allowed me to emotionally prepare for the disappointment.
Not that I was devestated or anything, but I didn't want to feel ANY
disappointment at the birth of my child. Not even a halted breath.
- When I was given the opportunity to find out the gender of my second
child I jumped at the chance. I felt like I would like a little sister
for my daughter and wanted to prepare myself in case it didn't happen.
My son has been loved ever since. We even named him and spoke to our
daughter about him before he was born to prepare him.--I know that was
presumptuous since we only knew through an ultrasound but the name was a
neutral gender name and we were willing to keep it (the name) either way.
- I'm not sure what I'll do for my next pregnancy since I no longer have
any preconceived notions about siblings. I guess I'll decide in the
moment--which probably means I'll choose to find out then.-- It has been
a wonderful experience for me to know before the birth and it allowed me
to prepare for that child in particular (emotionally, we did not decorate
or buy baby clothes or anything).
- An interesting side note-- I knew what gender both of my babies were
through intuition long before I found out scientifically. I just needed
that extra boost to help me to accept the facts.
- I don't love my children any less even though I might not have
originally chosen their order. In hind sight I would have chosen them
just as they came." -C. Gibbons
- "With both of my pregnancies, my husband wanted to know and I did not.
I doubt that my hubby could keep a secret for so long without
slipping. With my first, I ended up giving in "under pressure" on the
exam table so we did find out last time. This time I have held firm,
and esp. since he had his way last time and I could say definitively
that I had not liked knowing, he really couldn't argue.
- It seems like most people do want to know, it looks like, so here are some
of the arguments against from someone who didn't want to know.
- For me it was that I wanted to find out my baby's sex exactly once, with
100% accuracy, and ultrasound would not offer me that. I wouldn't have
minded finding out early by amnio since that would have been definitive.
Also I had/have a preference regarding the sex, and I really think if you
do have a preference it is better to wait, at least for me. I wanted/want
a girl, and when we found out Ryan was "probably" a boy, I spent the rest
of my pregnancy hoping to be in the 15% where the US is wrong, hoping for
a big surprise at the birth. It was not until my son was born with a penis
that I really accepted that I had a son, and fell in love with him and with
the idea of having a son. So I really did not want to go through that again
if it looks like a boy, nor the scenario of it looking like a girl but not
wanting to get my hopes up too much in case it really wasn't. (Hubby has
interpreted this as "you don't want to know because you're afraid it's
another boy," sigh...)
- I also felt that knowing, or sort-of knowing, took some of the fun out
of all the guessing games you can play regarding predicting the sex
during your pregnancy.
- My take on the arguments about being able to pick out names, buy
gender-specific diapers and clothes, etc...: Since the US is wrong in about
15% of the cases at the time most women have a "routine" ultrasound (around
18 weeks), you should probably think about names for the other gender
anyhow, unless you are comfortable with the idea of deciding after birth in
that case. The newborn size diapers are unisex anyhow, and there are at
least 2 brands of unisex diapers in larger sizes. It's really not a big
deal for him or a friend or relative to run out and buy you 3 or 4 packs of
step 1 diapers shortly after the birth if you need them. wrt
gender-specific clothing -- if you are planning on having a second, try to
avoid it anyhow ;-) In my experience you'll get plenty of gender-specific
stuff after the baby's born so you might as well stock up on gender-neutral
onesies and stretchies before hand and wait on everything else. Again, the
US is WRONG about 1 time in 6, so you don't want to go overboard on the
gender-specific preparations in any case. (Many people have argud that my
numbers are not correct, or that *their* practitioner was 100% certain
of what they saw, or that they saw it too and it was unmistakable. My OB
for my first pregnancy is the one who gave me the 85% number -- in his
experience the US predictions were right 85% of time -- even though the
technicians claimed to be closer to 99% accurate. We couldn't see anything
on the freeze-frame crotch shot of our first son, so I'm sure that biases
my judgement against trusting these predictions too much.)
- According to my first OB, they are equally likely to be wrong about either
prediction, despite what you usually hear about boy predictions being more
solid than girl predictions. (Again, based on his experience.) btw, This
is a top-notch ultrasound facility in a city well-known for excellent health
care facilities." -Robyn
- "Both times we chose to find out the baby's sex prenatally at 20 week
ultrasound. Because the technology was available and we could. Why not?
It didn't affect the pregnancy. It helped us by focusing the name
selection and purchasing process - less stress.
- One change we made with the second pregnancy - we did not tell anyone
else that we knew which sex the baby was. People like to guess." -John
- "I was dying to know the sex of my baby! I have never been able to wait for
any surprise, if I know about it. And boy do you know about a baby. How
could I wait 9 months!?!
I'm not worried about clothing or decorating, but it does feel nice to be
able to call the baby "she" instead of "it" or "the baby."
- We tried to find out the sex of our baby at the 19 week US and were told
there is a 75% chance its a girl. Now since we both admitted we want a girl
first, we're thrilled. But I still imagine a boy 25% of the time! I think
I will have an US closer to devliery where I should be able to see the sex
- "An interesting point made in the book "The Tentative Pregnancy" (an
excellent book when you're thinking about various tests, by the
way--sorry I can't find a reference for it) is that, among women
surveyed, more were disappointed about finding out that they were
going to have a boy than the opposite--strikingly more. This effect
was actually strongest among those with 'traditional' beliefs in which
they valued men over women--just the opposite of what you'd expect.
The author speculated that it's the shock of finding out that there's
something so *different* growing inside of you--a feeling anyone might
have, but which will be much stronger in those who believe that the
sexes are very different. The book recommends against finding out the
sex of a baby, but I knew that this advice was not right for me. The time
immediately after the birth of a baby is wonderful and everything one
has been hoping for, but at the same time it can also be
catastrophically difficult, for a short time--and the sudden change in
hormones causes at least a little depression in most women. For me,
the best time to get used to a different idea is when I *don't* have a
lot of other things to deal with.... " -Paula B.
- "I had amnio, both because I'm an old broad (39) and, more importantly, I
didn't want any surprises. I know too many little boys that were
brought home in pink dresses, and other fetuses who wouldn't cooperate
and exhibit their genitalia during ultrasound. I don't think I would
have done the amnio just for prenatal genetic screening
alone--psychologically I *needed* to know my baby's sex, and karyotyping
is the one fool-proof method of finding out.
- This is a premium baby, conceived after 3 years of infertility treatment,
countless IUIs, 1 surgery, 3 IVFs, and 2 miscarriages. I knew this would
be my only child, and I have always wanted a daughter. While obviously,
after all those heroics, I would have been delighted with *any* child, I
feared that if I were "surprised" with a boy at birth, my disappointment
at not having a girl might mar my joy at having a healthy son. Thus, I
wanted those months to visualize and get used to the idea of having a
- As it turned out, we are having a girl (I should have figured out that
marginal-quality sperm + old eggs = daughter!). My joy at having a
healthy baby AND A DAUGHTER is absolutely boundless. Knowing her sex has
made her more of an individual to us, and has increased our bond with
- When I announce that we're expecting a daughter, many people (mostly from
the older generation) say sadly, "but didn't you want to be surprised?"
The answer is a resounding NO--I can't understand why anyone would NOT
want to know their baby's sex prenatally." -esi
- "1. My experience. I found out with amnio both times. As others, focussed
us on only one name (whew!.. name picking was almost harder than labor,
certainly it lasted longer!)
Other than that, what difference did it make? none to me.
- 2. Friends experience. Found out via ultrasound (supposedly *not*
foolproof, but she worked at a us company (who shall remain nameless,
but you can guess ;-) ) and the tech who did it had *never* been
wrong before. So she was told it was a girl. She was thrilled, having
already had a boy. SO she decorated, pink, bought pink had heart set
on girl's name, etc etc etc. Of course you see the punch line.
Its a boy!. She had MAJOR post partum depression. Thought she couldn't
bond with this baby, cried for weeks while stripping pink wallpaper
.IMHO pink is ok , especially at that time, but it was a *thing* for
her... And really it took almost 6 or 9 months to work it out. SO
my advice to anyone who wonders if they should find out is to
only find out for *certain*. ie ultrasound is not always right.
Because unmet expectations are too hard to deal with while you
are hormonnaly (sp) challenged." -Eileen
- "We have just had our first and most likely only baby -- I am 36,
my mate 39.
- We were quite adamant about not wanting to know the gender till
the baby arrived. I refused amnio, so we didn't have to be thinking
"gee, somebody in some lab somewhere knows our baby's sex, but
WE don't." (Though that's not the reason I refused amnio, just a side
benefit.) No CVS either. We had one ultrasound, at 18 1/2 weeks,
just to look for any obvious defects that we'd want to be prepared
for, and told the techs, IF YOU SEE ANYTHING, DON'T TELL US.
(Same instructions when we wound up with two more u/s's during a
health crisis at the end of pregnancy.)
- It was quite fun for us to spend the time referring to the baby as
"she/he" or "her/him," and to get gender-neutral shower gifts in
lovely shades of green, purple, red, yellow, white, etc. We honestly
did not care whether we wound up with a boy or a girl. The baby's
sleeping in our room, so nursery decor was not an issue (we painted
the hand-me-down cradle violet -- though the baby's sleeping in
our bed anyway!!!! as it turned out), nor were other such factors.
- When birth time came, I wound up in a pre-eclampsia crisis with
induced labor, very different from the natural Bradley childbirth
we'd hoped for and dreamed of ... but the one facet of my birth
plan which DID survive was, my mate was the one who announced
the baby's gender. After the baby slid out, it was so sweet to hear
Patrick say, "It's a BOY!!!!" I really wouldn't have wanted to have
been deprived of the surprise." -t.r.
- "I really didn't want to know either time. We didn't find out the first time,
and it really helped me get through my pregnancy, the guessing and wondering, the
excitement of it all. The second time I had an amnio and they told me with asking if
I wanted to know. I kept telling myself they were wrong, even though it was the sex that I "wanted."
I had a really hard time bonding to that thought, and I would even tell people
that we weren't sure of the sex." -Elise
- Just reading the pros and cons of finding out the sex early. Had to put in
my two cents worth....
- With our first, I instinctually knew from the begining that it was a girl.
At the birth, when the nurse said "it's a girl" I remember thinking I know
that! With our second, my pregnancy was so different I was sure it was a
boy. I had an ultrasound in my ninth month and the clear shot between the
legs had the tech declaring "that is definately a scrotom". The blue
blanket and blue clothes and boy's name went to the hospital, and my second
daughter came out. Now, six years later, I am due with our third in about
three weeks. No-one asks when I am due, they all ask what I am having! I
have decided that after the dissapointment of a wrong ultrasound I don't
want to go through that again, but have also decided the following:
doesn't matter! It's not like you can return it, I just want it healthy!
- After nine long months, have something to look forward to!
alot cheaper to wait, than to redo the nursery!
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