“Do you know what you’re having?”
How many times did you get asked that when you were pregnant? And if you did know did you answer them or keep it a surprise?
These days finding out the sex of your baby is easier than ever, and you can do it sooner than ever.
It can be guessed by a scan at around 11-13 weeks, though it has limited accuracy depending on the position of your bub. Or you can get a more accurate prediction at your scan between 18 and 21 weeks. There is also a new test, the GeneSyte NIPS test, also known as the Harmony Test, which costs around $500 that you can have as early as 10 weeks. This test claims to have a 99% accuracy rate.
But it is still a much debated topic in parenting forums. Should you find out? Does your partner want to? Did other people?
So who wants to know?
Well it turns out that more couples find out the sex of their baby than don’t.
Writing for FiveThirtyEight.com Mona Chalabi crunched the numbers and came up with some surprising statistics.
She looked at two studies - the first from Harvard Medical School that showed 58 percent of women and 58 percent of men said they had found out or planned to find out the sex of their baby. Nice and even huh?
The second study, from researchers in the Netherlands that found that 69 percent of pregnant women and 77 percent of their partners surveyed in 2009-10 wanted to know the sex of the fetus.
The researchers observed that “almost all parents feel strongly one way or the other about whether it is best to know the fetal sex before birth.”
Around the world the statistics are quite different though.
In Canada last year the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists called for a ban on ultrasounds just for the purpose of sex determination amid mounting concerns that people are using ultrasound to determine the sex of a fetus early in pregnancy and to have it aborted if it is a girl.
In France nine out of 10 parents decide to find out the sex of their baby, with 40 percent of parents in France saying they have a preference what sex the baby is.
Bébé fille ou bébé garcon?
Most parents (84 percent of mothers and 80 percent of fathers) say they don’t have a strong preference about the sex of the baby.
For the parents-to-be who do have a strong preference they risk suffering gender disappointment if they find out the sex if their unborn baby and it isn’t the one they wanted.
There aren’t any statistics around on what percentage of parents who find out the sex of the baby are disappointed because of the deep sense of shame that surrounds the feelings of not wanting their own baby purely due to its sex.
Geraldine Holden, of British chat forums Mumsnet told The Telegraph it was a popular topic with the women who frequented the forums.
"Very often the women posting feel desperately guilty and say they wish they hadn't found out the sex before the birth,"
Psychologist Graham W Price told The Telegraph, "Gender disappointment can affect fathers just as much as mothers," he says. "In fact, it often takes men longer than women to get over their regret, as there is a biological imperative for women to bond with their children."
So what impacts whether or not you will find out?
A lot it seems.
The Harvard study quoted showed that 62 percent of women with only one child wanted to find out the sex of the fetus compared with 55 percent of women who didn’t yet have any children.
But surprisingly it isn’t about getting the perfect ‘pigeon pair’. Women who already had one or more children of each sex were just as likely as childless women to want to know the sex.
But what if the parent’s don’t agree?
Surprisingly according to the statistics this is rare. Only 2 percent of fathers wanted to learn the baby’s sex when the mother didn’t and only 3 percent of mothers wished to find out the sex when the father didn't.
There is always the old try to keep a secret method which inevitably fails on the drive home from the ultrasound when the keeper-of-the-gender knowledge accidentally cries out “Oh I wonder if she’ll have your eyes?”
But why do they find out?
Well, for me, I found out with two of my babies, but not with my third. With the first two I felt I needed a bit of motivation to get through those last few months – a treat, a taster if it were, and I wanted to get organised.
With the third I didn’t find out. Why?
Well my first two were boys and as anyone with two boys knows every second question you get asked is “Are you going to try for a girl.” I couldn’t have cared less what the sex of my baby was but I didn’t want to go through a whole pregnancy with endless questions from strangers about whether I was happy or disappointed with what I was having.
According to Mona Chalabi’s article the main reason most people find out are similar reasons to mine: planning, preparation and curiosity.
But other reasons cited by respondents to the survey were telling, showing how unique, and powerful some of our reasons are.
One woman wrote she had, “Lost a baby boy — apprehensive about having a boy.”
Another said, “My mum has been fighting breast cancer and might not be with us when the baby is born. If this hadn’t been the case, we probably wouldn’t find out.”
And for some it is simply a reason to have a gender reveal party. But they don’t always work out the way you want do they?
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Whether you choose to or not keep in mind that even the most convincing of experts can be wrong about the gender.
Ultrasound technician Catherine E. Rienzo, a fellow with the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography told CNN: "Sometimes it's not that easy. Size of the uterus, abdominal scars, position of the baby and other factors that can play into it. If it's a male and the testicles haven't descended, it can look like a female. It's not 100%."
The only thing that’s guaranteed is that in there is a baby and with all going right in a short amount of time you will have him or her in your arms.
Did you find out the sex of your baby? Would you again?