Finding Out the Sex of the Baby
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Will they look like you, or like Daddy? What colour eyes will they have? Will they grow up to be the next Prime Minister or follow your chosen career path? Will they be a boy or a girl? The chances are that you will spend a lot of time over the next 9 months daydreaming about the person growing inside you. Only time will provide the answers to most of these questions, but you may be able to discover the sex of the baby sooner than the rest.
When can I find out the sex of my baby?
It is possible for a sonographer to tell the sex of the baby via an ultrasound scan from about 14 weeks, however, it becomes increasingly easier and more accurate to see as the pregnancy progresses. Most early scans are done before 14 weeks so it is unlikely that your first scan will give you the opportunity to find out whether you are having a boy or a girl. Even if it is possible to tell, the hospital may have a policy of not disclosing this information until the second scan. This takes place at around 20 weeks. However, some hospitals will not disclose this information at all. If this is your hospital's policy then you may have to pay for a scan to be done privately if you wish to know the sex.
Even at 20 weeks it isn't always possible to tell what sex the baby is. For the sonographer to get a good view the baby needs to be in the right position, and they can't be shielding their genitals with their legs.
Generally, it is thought to be easier to confirm that a baby is definitely a boy, rather than a girl. This is because if the penis can be seen, it is usually quite clear. However, the absence of a penis does not provide conclusive evidence that the baby is a girl. For confirmation that the baby is a girl, the sonographer will be looking for 3 lines in the genital region. These lines denote the labia, part of the external genital organs found only in girls.
Can they be sure?
If you chose to find out the sex of your baby then it will most likely be via an ultrasound scan. If your sonographer is in any doubt then they will tell you that they are not 100% sure of the baby's gender, but even if they are sure, there is always a small possibility that they are wrong. So, while it might be exciting to be told the sex of the baby half way through your pregnancy, it might not be prudent to head straight to the shops and splash out on the nursery decor, baby clothes and all their accessories in various shades of blue or pink.
It is also possible to tell the sex of your baby via a diagnostic test such as an amniocentesis. These tests are only done if there are abnormalities detected with your baby, but if you have a diagnostic test and are told the sex of the baby as part of the results, then this is the most reliable indicator of a baby's gender.
Should I find out the sex of my baby?
Only you can answer this question. One of the main reasons people choose to find out the sex is so that they can be organised ahead of the baby's arrival. The nursery can be decorated to suit a boy or a girl, the newly bought blue dungarees or pink dresses can be washed and dried and the name can be finalised and printed across the nursery door.
However, some people feel that the surprise is worth waiting for, no matter how hard it is to be kept in suspense. Labour can be a long and arduous process and many women find that not knowing their baby's gender can help motivate them to keep on going. Knowing that the surprise will be revealed soon can provide even more reason to keep pushing. The arguments for choosing to know the sex to stay organised can be overstated too. There are plenty of neutral colours that you can decorate the nursery in while you are pregnant, and you can accessorise with more gender-specific colours after the baby arrives. Very often this will happen anyway; so many of the gifts that people receive for their new baby tend to be blue or pink, whether they are clothes or soft toys. Within days it will be evident what sex your baby is just from the colour scheme of wrapping paper, laundry and toy collections adorning your home.
Just remember that once you are told what you are expecting, you can't be 'un-told'.
Are there other ways of telling the gender of the baby?
That depends on how much folklore you believe in. There are lots of these, and it can be fun running through them and to take a guess at what you may be having. You have at least a 50% chance of getting it right so by all means have a go, just remember to take them all with a pinch of salt, or you could have a big surprise on your hands come the big day!