To Know Or Not To Know Your Baby’s Gender Before Birth

This is a subject I used to feel really strongly about, mostly because I leaned heavily in one direction.  Ok, ok, I was completely on one side of the fence, I admit it.  I thought everyone should let their baby be born as a surprise.

In my mind, why would you want to “ruin” that momentous surprise??  Why would you take away 9 glorious months of speculating and thinking about what if it is one or the other gender.

I am one of 5 siblings, and each one of us was a surprise.  As the second oldest, I had the privilege of waiting on 3 other babies to arrive.  I very much enjoyed the waiting and the family debates on whether we were getting another brother or sister.  In fact, those times are some of my fondest childhood memories.

Fast forward many years into my adulthood, and I was expecting my first child.  It took a lot of convincing to get my husband on board with letting the baby be a surprise.  He thought he simply couldn’t wait.

But I convinced him and we found ways to enjoy the time waiting.  (Waiting and preparing for your first baby is such a special time no matter what!)  At the end of the 9 months, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy, and we were tickled pink…umm…blue.  😉

As with many other things in my life, I have slowly come to realize that there is no logical earthly reason for having such a dogmatic stance on something as benign as finding out if you are expecting a boy or a girl.  When I took the time to examine why I felt as I did, I realized I thought somehow people were “missing out” if they didn’t do it “my way.”

It’s taken me a year or two, plus the news that we are expecting a second child, to come up with my own pros and cons to both sides.

Reasons to NOT find out:

  1. You are not tempted to spend a lot of money on baby things before you find out what you actually need.

You can still be sufficiently prepared with baby essentials without knowing the gender first.  There are so many cute gender-neutral things available now.  Babies only need a few outfits in the first weeks of life anyways, and a blanket or 2 will also be sufficient.  Don’t worry!!  Family and friends will likely supply you with more newborn clothes than the baby can wear.  (This is what happened to us with our first child!)

You also won’t be tempted to buy big baby items that are gender-specific, such as swings, bouncers, play pens, and bedroom furniture.  If you plan on having more than one child, you would benefit from buying gender-neutral items that can be reused for future children.

  1. A baby shower can easily be done AFTER the baby is born if you are don’t want a gender-neutral shower.

A close friend or a family member (even your husband!) can throw you a shower after the baby is born.  (Don’t try to do it yourself right after birth!  You don’t need to overdo yourself.)

A baby shower after the baby is born can also double as a welcoming party to introduce your new baby to all your friends and family at one time.  (This can cut down on the unexpected surprise visits from acquaintances who want to meet your baby!)

  1. The “not-knowing” can keep you going through a difficult labor.

With my first child, I had worked a 12 hour shift while in early labor, and then proceeded to go through another 36 hours of labor before my son was born.  To say I was exhausted is an understatement.

To make matters worse, he was “sunny-side up”, or turned the wrong way, leading to very painful back labor.  But not knowing if I was about to meet my little boy or girl kept me going.  It was a constant thought that helped me get through each contraction, especially at the end.

*Side note:  I’ve also been told that simply wanting to meet your baby has the same motivating power, if you know what the gender is in advance.  I’ll find out from this perspective with my second baby because we DID choose to find out the gender this time!

  1. Even with all the amazing ultrasound technology right now, sometimes they are still wrong!!

The baby might not cooperate fully, leading to a wrong prediction because the ultrasound tech thinks they saw substantial evidence. 

On the same note, the ultrasound tech may be inexperienced, and make an honest mistake.  Let’s face it, there is always room for human error and we’ve all heard of that one couple who was expecting a boy/girl and ended up being surprised with just the opposite!!  This can be worse because then you are already prepared with clothes and items for the wrong gender!

  1. You might have the (mis)fortune of having family/friends that meddle about naming your child, etc.

This is where it gets sticky.  Some of us are blessed with family who think that they know what your child should be named.  Knowing what the gender is usually leads to MORE (you will always get at least a few of these questions while pregnant!) questions about what you are naming this coming child.

Some family/friends can go overboard on gift-giving before the baby is born.  Knowing the gender always gets everyone involved tempted to buy all the cute things they see for a specific gender.  It’s an understandable weakness.

In order to at least lessen the hurt feelings and over-abundance of suggestions/gifts/etc., you can say that you’ll settle on the name when you find out the gender.  Naming always seem to go a bit smoother when the child has arrived, the name can no longer be changed, and the baby’s cuteness offers a welcome distraction.

  1. Finding out the gender splits the excitement of having a child into 2 separate events—finding out the gender and the birth.

This one completely depends on your personality and your season in life.  You might prefer to having all the excitement leading up to one big event, or you might actually prefer having a big gender-reveal moment (or party) before the birth.

Finding out and announcing the coming child’s gender beforehand can take away the excitement from friends and family who will more strongly anticipate the birth if they don’t know the gender.  Birth is always a big event for the parents themselves, but finding out the gender at birth makes the birth itself more exciting for friends, family, and especially older siblings.

BUT, if you are one of those strong-willed secret keepers, by all means find out the gender and keep it a secret!!  I highly admire your strength because there is no way I could keep such a tantalizing secret.

Reasons TO find out:

  1. You already have one or more children of one gender, so you want to be prepared in case you are expecting the opposite gender this time.

I feel this is a big reason to find out because of having baby things on hand already.  You can save yourself the hassle of finding and dragging out the newborn things if you already know they won’t work for this child.  You can also prepare for the new expense of buying a new baby wardrobe if you aren’t able to reuse previous baby clothes you already have.

  1. You have a spouse that absolutely NEEDS to know!

This was why we found out our second child’s gender at the 20-week ultrasound.  My husband was so convinced that we were having a girl this time (and he was right!!) that he said we HAD to find out.  He just couldn’t make it this time without knowing if he was getting his girl or not.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m put under that much pressure on top of the temptation to find out for myself, I just couldn’t resist.  And sometimes, you just need to do what makes your spouse happy.  Sure, I would have loved to have another surprise, but it was special to see him so excited about finding out and then being told he was getting his wish.

  1. YOU absolutely NEED to know!

The reverse of the scenario of my husband and I might be true for you.  YOU are the only who needs to know and just can’t stand all the waiting!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  It’s wonderful that you are that excited about your coming child.  This is how anticipated EVERY child should be!

  1. You have a strong desire for one gender.

If you are prone to wanting one gender, finding out early can give you some time to get adjusted to knowing what you are having before the baby arrives.

Maybe you grew up with all brothers, so you truly think you can’t handle a girl.  Finding out in advance that you are having a girl will give you time to adjust and seek advice on how to raise a little girl so that you feel more ready for the challenge.

Maybe you have 4 daughters already and you just really wish you could have one boy.  Finding out the gender early can help you get over the initial disappointment if you are having another girl.  (We are all human–it’s ok to admit that we might feel disappointment at first.)  Or finding out early will give you advance warning that you are getting your wish and are in for a whole new challenge!

  1. Finally, knowing the gender early can help you shop gender-specific deals early.

If you’re like me and already have a child or two, the last thing you want to do is wait until you are towing around your maximum number of kids to go shopping.  I want to shop now while I’m pregnant and I only have one child to get in and out of the car.

It seems to be much easier to find clearance children’s clothes in a specific gender.  Seasonal gender-specific clothing can be picked up at a hefty discount, but only if you know what gender to buy for!

Knowing the gender in regards to what time of year your child will be born, will help you pick up clothing in bigger sizes for the future.  No one wants to buy gender-neutral clothes in size 2T!

In Conclusion

I hope my little list of pros and cons has helped you start to think through your opinions on whether to find out or not find out your baby’s gender.  Do what you decide is right for you and your family!!

You might let some of your children be a surprise and some not, depending on what season of life you are in.  And that’s OK.  Either way, your child is a precious gift from God who should be celebrated and cherished!!

Do you have any pros and cons that I hadn’t thought of?  Please share them!!

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