"So, are you going to find out the sex of the baby?"
It's one of the most commonly-asked questions during pregnancy, along with "When is it due?" and the oh-so-annoying (even for me, as the father) "Twins sometimes hide behind each other, you know. Did you check the scan photo?"
Despite being an irritating question, though, it is one which divides parents across the world: should they find out whether they're having a boy or a girl? One ongoing poll yields interesting results, which are almost split down the middle: at the time of writing, 56 opting for 'No'. There are advantages and disadvantages to each argument, pros and cons which – if you're not careful – you can end up arguing about until you're blue in the face.
There's no right or wrong answer: it's a choice that each couple has to decide on - ideally before the 20-week scan, unless you want an argument with a sonographer present. Personally, I feel that finding out the sex of both our children was the right thing for us to do; but many parents feel otherwise.
Here are the arguments for and against; many thanks to Jenn Unger, who is expecting her baby in early February, for arguing the case for 'No'.
Who likes surprises, really? Not me, nor my wife, which is why we decided that we would find out the sex of both our children during pregnancy. We could focus our name-deciding to just one gender, saving potentially hours of tedious debate. We could decorate the nursery in relevant colours, instead of sticking with 'safe' neutral shades – and the same goes with clothing. Instead of buying bland unisex babygrows, we could fill our baskets with flowery dresses, or little T-shirts sporting mildly irritating phrases like 'Daddy's Boy'.
Whilst we hadn't got our hopes pinned on either gender, discovering what you are having before your baby arrives allows you to get used to the idea of, say, having a boy if you had your heart set on a little girl. I feel that finding out the sex helped us to bond with our baby before meeting him for the first time – not knowing whether you're having a 'he' or a 'she' relegates your child to an 'it', and as such you can struggle to form a strong connection – especially the father.
Plus, even if you do like surprises, I believe you can still discover the sex of your baby and retain an element of surprise. After all, you don't know what he or she looks like, how big they are, whether they'll have a head of hair.
I like to believe that as a gift giving and receiving culture we can be divided into two groups: those who shake their gifts to try and figure out what they are, and those who don't. I fall firmly into the latter camp. I barely look at my gifts sitting under a tree, let alone touch them, pick them up or heaven forbid, give them a little shake! I love surprises. The idea of ruining the surprise for myself seems ludicrous; especially after someone has gone to the trouble of surprising me in the first place.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child it was a given that its gender should remain a surprise until its birth. Sure, it would be easier for us and everyone else to buy things if we knew what we were having.
Sure, we could theme the nursery in gender 'appropriate' colours. Sure, I could make sure we learnt gender specific nappy folding techniques prior to its birth.
But where is the fun in any of that? Our baby will be a boy, or it will be a girl. Or, maybe it will be a hermaphrodite (though I'm pretty sure we'd have been advised of that at our 19 week scan).
REASONS TO FIND OUT:
- You can plan ahead with clothing, nursery decorations, and names.
- If you already have a child, discovering the gender of your baby can help decide whether or not you need to buy a new set of clothes or just use hand-me-downs.
- Friends and family have more direction when deciding on a gift.
- Helps to increase the bond between parent and unborn baby.
- Avoids any element of disappointment if you had your heart set on a boy or a girl.
- Explaining a brother or sister to an older child might be easier.
REASONS TO NOT FIND OUT:
- Why spoil one of life's greatest surprises?
- It will not make you love your child any more.
- Does it really matter? As long as it's healthy, I'm happy...
- Finding out the gender is not 100% accurate.
- Buying neutral-coloured clothes means you can use them on future sons or daughters, thus saving money.
More on HuffPost Parents:
The nub theory: How to predict your baby's gender at 12 weeks
What do you think? What did you/will you do - find out the sex of your baby or wait for the birth?