Baby & Toddler - August 2010
Boy or girl: Who wants to know?
By Elizabeth Heubeck
One of the most common questions posed to a woman throughout her pregnancy is:
“What are you having?” In many instances, the mom-to-be is able to answer,
thanks to modern technology that gives parents the option to learn the sex of
the fetus with near-certain accuracy.
In fact, recent research reveals that the majority of women choose to learn the
sex of their fetus before delivery. According to a 1996 article in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology,
a poll taken by Homerton University Hospital in London asked 472 maternity
patients whether they planned to learn the sex of their fetus during their
standard 20-week sonogram. About 75 percent of the women responded that they
did intend to. Among those, an accurate identification was made 96.7 percent of
In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S.
National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, cites a 2004 survey taken at Brigham
and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Of the 1,302 mothers polled, 761 (or 58
percent) planned to learn the gender of their fetus during their prenatal
ultrasound. In addition, of the 1,295 fathers who were surveyed, 747 (or,
again, 58 percent) also planned to learn the baby’s sex before delivery.
If these small samples mirror the population at large, it follows that, among
parents who have the option to learn their baby's gender in advance, most do.
What’s the Hurry?
But still, not everyone chooses to find out early. If you’re on the fence
about whether or not to learn your baby’s gender before delivery, knowing what
other expectant parents have decided in facing that option—and
why—may clarify your decision.
I recently conducted my own unscientific survey of moms online. Following are a
few of their reasons for choosing to find out early.
“I just am impatient, and I figure if I can find out something, I want to
find out!” writes Lauren Rutley, of Clarksburg in Maryland. “To me, it's unnecessary
and old-fashioned to wait for the birth.”
For some, however, learning the gender in advance is about preparation.
“My husband and I wanted a girl so much that I knew I needed to learn the
gender before the baby was born,” writes Cecille Hansen,
a mom from Seattle. “Then, if [the baby] turned out to be a boy, we'd both have
time to deal with it.”
Anna Aquino, of Kissimmee, Fla., writes:
“Knowing ahead of time gives you the ability to bond with your baby in utero,
because you are getting to know more about this child. You can begin to refer
to the child by name.”
For some, preparation leans toward the more practical.
“I'm a control freak and a planner,” admits Susan Griepsma, a mom from
Rochester, N.Y. “Surprises freak me out. I feel the most comfortable when I
know what's coming and I've planned for it.”
For other parents, however, the desire to be surprised trumps all.
“Even though my husband and I are planners, we loved the surprise of not
knowing until the very end. It was so much fun,” writes Tricia Callahan,
a mom and founder of onceamonthmom.com, a website that provides a family menu
planner for the month.
I'm with Tricia. Although I desperately wanted to know the sex of those little
scrunched up things in my belly each time around, it was so much fun to
wonder and hear other people's guesses.
During my first pregnancy, many people—from close friends to complete
strangers—were adamant that the way I was carrying the baby proved I was
having a boy. They even convinced me. And they were wrong!
During my second pregnancy, I felt certain I was having another girl. Wrong
I will never forget the unbelievable surprise and joy I felt when I heard the
doctor say, right after I delivered my first child, “You have a baby girl.” And
again, the next time when, through the fog of the anesthesia, I heard the
words, “It's a boy.” BC
You can follow Elizabeth Heubeck’s
blog online, at elizabethheubeck.com/blog.
© Baltimore’s Child Inc. August 2010