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Finding Out The Baby’s Sex

One of the hottest pregnancy trends is the gender reveal.

Woman holding sonogram, bard and didriksen pediatrics, illinois pediatrics

Parents find out the sex of their expected child and throw a party, take a picture, make a video or fly a flag revealing whether “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”. But not every couple chooses to reveal, or even discover, the sex of their unborn child. How is the gender revealed to the parents, and what are the advantages of knowing, or staying in the dark?

Most pregnancies involve an ultrasound around 18-22 weeks, and depending on the amount of amniotic fluid, the position of the fetus, and the thickness of the abdominal wall, there is a good chance of seeing enough to know the sex with reasonable certainty. Amniocentesis, an analysis of a small amount of amniotic fluid, is extremely accurate, but is also invasive and carries some risk, and it is only performed in cases where there is a genetic, or other medical concern which outweighs that risk. More recently, a maternal blood test has become available which reveals the fetal DNA without invasion. Since these blood tests are available commercially, or in a medical lab, accuracy varies depending on who is drawing the blood and who is analyzing it. One thing is clear, with modern medicine, the question is usually not if the sex can be known ahead time, but whether or not the parents want that knowledge.

A Gallup Panel poll in 2007 found that roughly two-thirds of younger Americans want this knowledge. A casual glance at the baby industry indicates that this trend is only growing. Other than simple curiosity, practical concerns seem to be the driving force in knowing the sex before birth. Trying to stay gender-neutral, in a world that is anything but, is sometimes frustrating, and some parents would rather paint the nursery, decorate the crib, and buy sleepers knowing they can safely choose pink, or blue, instead of green and yellow for everything. When friends throw a shower, they know what to buy as gifts, and they can plan the party with footballs, or ballerinas, as the theme.

But these gender stereotypes are one reason some parents choose not to find out the sex. They prefer to focus on what they want to provide, in broader terms for either a boy or a girl, and not define their child so exclusively in terms of gender. They feel that birth is soon enough for their child to be constrained by gender. Others quite simply want to be surprised. Hearing the sex of the baby announced is an exciting tradition, and these parents don’t want that exciting moment diluted by prior knowledge. Some mothers have even expressed that during the final moments of labor, that mystery, and the desire to find out who this person is, gave them added strength to get through delivery.

In the end, the wait-to-see parents tend to be driven by a philosophical viewpoint and a sense of wonder and mystery while the find-out-now parents see their decision as decidedly more practical and economical and they are excited by the possibility of knowing as soon as possible. One thing both sides share in common is a concern for the well-being of their child. Nearly all parents say, when asked which gender they prefer, that what they really want is a healthy baby. If you are in need of a pediatrician in Illinois for your upcoming bundle of joy, we have five doctors on staff to help answer any questions you may have. Call us today!