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Who Wants to Know?

Boy or girl: Who wants to know?

By Elizabeth Heubeck

One of the most common questions posed to a woman throughout her pregnancy is: “What are you having?” In many instances, the mom-to-be is able to answer, thanks to modern technology that gives parents the option to learn the sex of the fetus with near-certain accuracy.

In fact, recent research reveals that the majority of women choose to learn the sex of their fetus before delivery. According to a 1996 article in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, a poll taken by Homerton University Hospital in London asked 472 maternity patients whether they planned to learn the sex of their fetus during their standard 20-week sonogram. About 75 percent of the women responded that they did intend to. Among those, an accurate identification was made 96.7 percent of the time.

In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, cites a 2004 survey taken at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Of the 1,302 mothers polled, 761 (or 58 percent) planned to learn the gender of their fetus during their prenatal ultrasound. In addition, of the 1,295 fathers who were surveyed, 747 (or, again, 58 percent) also planned to learn the baby’s sex before delivery.
If these small samples mirror the population at large, it follows that, among parents who have the option to learn their baby’s gender in advance, most do.

What’s the Hurry?

But still, not everyone chooses to find out early. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to learn your baby’s gender before delivery, knowing what other expectant parents have decided in facing that option—and why—may clarify your decision.
I recently conducted my own unscientific survey of moms online. Following are a few of their reasons for choosing to find out early.

“I just am impatient, and I figure if I can find out something, I want to find out!” writes Lauren Rutley, of Clarksburg in Maryland. “To me, it’s unnecessary and old-fashioned to wait for the birth.”
For some, however, learning the gender in advance is about preparation.
“My husband and I wanted a girl so much that I knew I needed to learn the gender before the baby was born,” writes Cecille Hansen, a mom from Seattle. “Then, if [the baby] turned out to be a boy, we’d both have time to deal with it.”

Anna Aquino, of Kissimmee, Fla., writes: “Knowing ahead of time gives you the ability to bond with your baby in utero, because you are getting to know more about this child. You can begin to refer to the child by name.”
For some, preparation leans toward the more practical.
“I’m a control freak and a planner,” admits Susan Griepsma, a mom from Rochester, N.Y. “Surprises freak me out. I feel the most comfortable when I know what’s coming and I’ve planned for it.”
For other parents, however, the desire to be surprised trumps all.
“Even though my husband and I are planners, we loved the surprise of not knowing until the very end. It was so much fun,” writes Tricia Callahan, a mom and founder of, a website that provides a family menu planner for the month.

I’m with Tricia. Although I desperately wanted to know the sex of those little scrunched up things in my belly each time around, it was so much fun to wonder and hear other people’s guesses.
During my first pregnancy, many people—from close friends to complete strangers—were adamant that the way I was carrying the baby proved I was having a boy. They even convinced me. And they were wrong!
During my second pregnancy, I felt certain I was having another girl. Wrong again!
I will never forget the unbelievable surprise and joy I felt when I heard the doctor say, right after I delivered my first child, “You have a baby girl.” And again, the next time when, through the fog of the anesthesia, I heard the words, “It’s a boy.” BC

You can follow Elizabeth Heubeck’s blog online, at

© Baltimore’s Child Inc. August 2010

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