Would you like to know if it’s a boy or a girl kicking inside of your womb? You can play games with your partner and predict the sex of your unborn child, according to some old tales, or wait for the professional opinion.
So when can you find out the gender of your baby?
The sex of your baby is usually determined between 18-20 weeks of your pregnancy and you can find it out from the second ultrasound. The accuracy is never 100%, however with the advanced equipment technicians have these days, it is rare to make a mistake.
Ultrasound- your first scan at 12 weeks
In England, your first scan, called dating scan, is available for you through NHS at about 8-14 weeks.
Although you should see your GP as soon as you’ve found out you’re pregnant (they will assign you a midwife), most local hospitals will not book your scan appointment until you reach 12 weeks pregnant. This is because miscarriages are not uncommon in the first trimester of the pregnancy ( so the hospital ultrasound department basically just wants to save money- surprise, surprise).
Therefore, the waiting time for your first scan can be irritating. But be patient; this scan is something to look forward to as it will be your first insight into how your peanut looks like. When you finally get to that room, the scan lasts for only about 20 min.
Things that will be checked during the dating scan:
- how far pregnant you are and what’s the estimated date of delivery
- whether it’s only one baby in your womb
- if the baby is growing in the right place and if it’s developing in the right way
- baby’s heartbeat
- whether you agreed to the screening : an estimated risk of a Down syndrome your baby may be born with (this is called a ‘combined test’)- you may have to wait outside of the room for a few minutes to get the results.
Second ultrasound at 20 weeks
The other offered scan, called an anomaly scan, will take place between 18-21 weeks of your pregnancy. This scan checks for structural abnormalities in the baby.
This is a chance for you to see your little one for the second time, this time with many more details as the baby is bigger and its parts more visible to you. Moreover, the sonographer will take more time to examine the baby, giving you chance to peak at her/him from different angles.
If you’re lucky you may be able to even notice your baby moving its legs or arms! The sonographer will zoom the baby’s different developing body parts and the inner organs such as heart, lungs and brain. At the end you will be given some printed pictures of your baby that you can keep with you. However, in some places there might be a charge for the service (still worth it if you ask me).
Your second scan usually allows you to get to know your baby’s sex. Make sure you tell the sonographer at the start of the scan that you wish to find out. Also, keep in mind that there is no such thing as 100% accuracy when it comes to discovering the gender. It may happen that your baby is lying in an awkward position, making it difficult or even impossible to tell.
In addition, some hospitals have a strange policy of not telling patients the sex of their baby. Ask your sonographer or midwife to avoid disappointment.
Pros and cons of finding out the gender
Finding out the gender of your baby is a very individual decision so make sure you (and your partner) are not pressured by your family members or friends.
1. Some benefits of knowing whether it’s a boy or a girl:
- Bonding with your baby. You can start creating positive scenarios about you and your child, for example if you know it’s a boy you will imagine yourself playing football with him or, if it’s a girl, playing with dolls.
- Choosing the name. Knowing the gender of your baby allows you to pick a name earlier and start calling your little one by name even when she’s still inside of you. This helps you, again, to bond with your unborn child.
- Preparing the nursery. Being aware of the sex of your baby simply makes your life easier when you think of redecorating that room- painting the walls blue or pink? Choosing curtains with Disney princesses or Spider-man? Same when it comes to clothing- after all you need to buy few essentials for your newborn, such as bodysuits. And yes, you can buy neutral colour of those tiny clothes but let’s face it- it’s much more exciting to shop for something that has cute pink hearts or imprinted cars than just choosing boring white
- Enough of surprises. If you got pregnant unexpectedly, the last thing you want is to get another surprise and be guessing for the whole 9 months who is residing your womb. You’ll be better off prepared. And let’s face it- even if you say it doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl as long as it’s healthy ( I was saying that for quite a long time), your mind is subconsciously settled for one or another!
2. Benefits of NOT finding out the gender:
- Can be fun. For some people it’s more exciting to wait and play guessing games with your partner or friends and family. Plus, you get to stay ‘old-school’- you grow a baby and stay in that oblivious state just like women in times before the technology became so advanced. The moment you find out will be, undeniably, one of the most amazing things you’ll ever hear in your life!
- Can be a bigger incentive to push. When the time comes, the mother’s deep curiosity held for so long can enhance her motivation to push. She will be desperate to hear those words in the delivery room: ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl’!
- You won’t be misinformed. Imagine they told you during your scan that it’s a girl and you did everything accordingly to that gender, from preparing pink crib and cute little dresses to having only one settled name in your head. And then suddenly, when your baby finally arrives, you get to know that it’s actually a boy! Now that’s not the best surprise ever. Not knowing the sex of your baby can prevent you from getting a potential disappointment.
Is there any other scan available to me after the anomaly scan?
If your pregnancy is low-risk and is progressing without any complications, you probably won’t have more scans after 20 weeks.
From that point, your midwife will be looking after your baby’s growth by measuring its, so called, fundal height- the distance from the front of your pelvis to the top of your womb (uterus).
The regular check-up also include:
- measuring your blood pressure
- taking and testing your urine and blood samples
- keeping an eye on your BMI (especially if you gain weight too quickly or too slowly)
However, if any problems or complications occur, you may be sent to conduct some extra scans. And don’t worry: there are no known risks for you or your baby from having an ultrasound scan.
Welcoming your baby
Just by visiting my website I’m sure you already made up your mind about finding out the gender of your little one. So, congratulations to all of you! Finding out the gender, sooner or later, is an unforgettable experience. It makes your pregnancy so much more realisitc and joyful:)
I’d suggest bringing someone for your scan appointment, especially the one at 20 weeks as you will want to share this moment with a close person. If your partner cannot make it (or is not around), then make sure your mum or a friend can come along- you will feel more supported and calm.
And don’t forget, you should be ready for any outcome if you want your baby’s gender to be revealed; after all, the doctors warn you they can make a mistake.