Gender of baby: necessary to know?

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Deciding whether to find out the sex of a baby is a personal choice. Knowing can help with preparation and planning, but not knowing can lead to pleasant surprises. Gender-specific diseases may require knowing the sex, but some parents argue against it due to the risk of sex selection or selective abortions. Couples who disagree should discuss with their doctor and consider the ability to keep secrets.

Some expectant parents are eager to find out the sex of their baby, while others are prone to wanting to be surprised once the baby is born. There really isn’t a right or wrong way to decide on this issue. It is a matter of personal opinion and often deeply rooted feelings. However, if you’re on the fence about whether you should find out the sex of the baby, you can look at the pros and cons of knowing and not knowing.

When you’re pregnant, you may want to know the gender of your baby so you can best prepare for having a boy or a girl (or both if you’re having twins). If you really want to decorate a gender-specific room, knowing the gender of the baby helps you plan ahead. You can pass this information on to friends who want to give you gender-specific clothing.

Not knowing can mean you get a lot of gender-nonspecific clothes in light mint and yellow colors. If they’re not your favorite colors, maybe it’s important to know the gender of the baby. Alternatively, if you already have a baby, knowing the baby’s gender can tell you if you’ll be able to use the older child’s clothes or if you need to start shopping.

On a more serious note, some diseases may be gender specific. If you have genetic disorders in your family that are linked to gender, you may need to know the baby’s sex to prepare for a child who may be ill. Knowing your child’s gender can help you determine if you need further genetic or prenatal testing.

Also, if you are serious about having a baby of a certain gender, knowing the baby’s gender can be important. That way, if the baby isn’t the gender you would have chosen on your own, you’ll have time to adjust and appreciate, or even cry. While most parents would never admit to wanting one sexual child over another, many have a bias in a certain direction. It’s a good idea to rid yourself of any disappointment you may feel about not having your wishes met when the baby is delivered.

It is important to note that some parents are still surprised on the day of delivery. A baby who looked like a boy/girl on an ultrasound may still turn out to be the opposite sex. Gender confirmation is usually only 100% when women have amniocentesis or other sampling of amniotic fluid, and these tests come with risks you may not want to take.

Parents who don’t want to know their baby’s gender may just want to be pleasantly surprised. Others get ultrasounds, which are pretty common, but don’t want to confirm gender by having more invasive tests. Even if moms need amniocentesis or other more invasive tests, they may not want to know.

With the exception of determining a child’s gender for the purpose of screening for gender-specific inherited disorders, some parents argue strongly against knowing a child’s gender. They suggest that such knowledge can lead to sex selection or selective abortions. It is true that in some parts of the world, such as China, where one sex is preferred over the other, abortion rates for girls are very common, especially since China has a one-child policy.

Finally, sometimes a couple differs as to whether they want to know the sex of the baby. In this case, talk to your doctor ahead of time about whether a parent wants to “know” so that information can be disclosed to one parent and not the other. Be sure to remind the doctor after ultrasound visits if you don’t want to know, so the doctor doesn’t accidentally let it slip.

The decision about a parent who knows should be based on how good that parent is at keeping a secret and not letting on innuendo. If the parent isn’t good at it, maybe not knowing for both parents is the best way to go. Also, in matters of pregnancy, partners should politely refer to the wishes of the pregnant partner regarding the question of knowing or not knowing.

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