Are you or a partner struggling with gender disappointment feelings after discovering the sex of your baby?
Don’t allow yourself to feel bad or guilty about it – it’s more common than you think. And it’s perfectly OK to let yourself have some time to be sad and process the information.
Parents feel pressured to put on a happy face and hide any feelings of struggling with gender disappointment. We’re told that a healthy baby is all that matters, right?
We all have expectations, goals, and visions for our life. So let’s get into it and talk about when the gender of your baby differs from the one you wished for.
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What is Gender Disappointment?
The term ‘Gender Disappointment’ refers to a parent’s feeling of let down after finding out the sex of their baby.
When one or both parents are struggling with gender disappointment, it is often because they had a strong desire for a child of a particular sex.
These feelings of sadness can occur during pregnancy with the results of an early gender scan or even after the baby is born. Somes parents can even feel bouts of gender disappointment as children grow, discover their own interests, and reach certain milestones.
For the purposes of this article when we discuss gender disappointment, we are referring to a parent’s feelings of sadness over a baby’s gender assigned at birth, not the gender they may choose to identify with.
Reasons for Gender Disappointment
Intentionally or not, you likely started imaging your baby when you found out that you were pregnant. For some, perhaps you’ve been picturing your future child even earlier.
Many people desire a child of a specific gender and their reasons are wide ranging. Your personal preferences based on your family growing up and the interactions you’ve experienced, societal pressure of a two child, boy/girl ideal, and even cultural reasons may shape how you imagined your family.
When the reality doesn’t meet your expectations, you feel disappointed.
So whether you wanted one child of each gender or to replicate a similar relationship that you had with your own parents or some other reason entirely, you may feel worried, sad, or even scared to find out that your baby is not the gender you were expecting.
How Early Can You Learn the Gender of a Baby?
The earliest testing for gender is chromosomal blood testing that can be performed at 10 weeks of pregnancy.
If this testing is not performed, parents usually have the ability to find out the gender during an ultrasound. This could possibly occur as early as 12 weeks, if you opt for this testing. If not, gender will be determined during the anatomy scan performed around 20 weeks. Sex determination during ultrasounds can be reliant on baby cooperating.
Gender can also be determined by corionic villus sampling as early as 10 weeks and amniocentis as early as 15 weeks (results typically take 2 weeks), but since these are invasive tests and carry certain risks they are not typically used for sex determination unless being performed primarily for other health concerns.
What Are the Chances of Gender Scan Being Wrong?
While this depends on the timing and type of gender scan, overall assessments provided by a qualified medical professional are extremely accurate.
According to a study that looked at accuracy of obstetric ultrasounds, scans made after 14 weeks gestation can be 100% accurate. That being said, there are times predictions are not able to be made based on technology restrictions and baby’s positioning. Additionally, results during the study were less accurate for fetuses younger than 12 weeks (only about 54% accurate).
Another popular test we mentioned earlier that can determine gender is Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) which can be performed as early as 10 weeks gestation. This is a blood test which screens for chromosome conditions and is considered to be over 99% accurate for gender prediction.
How to Deal With Gender Disappointment
If you’re currently struggling with gender disappointment, here are tips to help you overcome it:
Feel Your Feeling
This sounds kind of silly, but it can be hard to simply accept how you feel. Letting go of the ideal that you’ve created hurts. Let yourself feel sad. Allow your emotions and don’t judge yourself for them. Many moms experience shame or guilt about their gender disappointment, feeling disappointed is not wrong or bad and doesn’t reflect on you as a mother.
Consider Your Reason
Some find it helpful to evaluate the reasons they had wanted a certain gender. Consider that your disappointment is not actually about this baby, but rather about your constructed ideal baby. By reflecting on your reasons, you may be able to better process your disappointment. Consider that your ideal gender may have shunned the very images you’d created. Or if your reasons were based on your past relationship experiences, keep in mind that relationship dynamics are not necessarily gender specific. Understanding your own reasons, may help you reframe your thinking.
Talk About It
This is a tough topic to discuss. It seems like society tells moms-to-be that they must be deliriously happy and anything less is taboo. We know that isn’t reality. Find someone you feel safe and comfortable confiding in to talk about your gender disappointment. Expressing your feelings can help them feel more manageable. If you don’t feel that you can share this with a close friend or family member, look for an online support group. You may also find that you know other moms who have experienced similar feelings.
Prepare For Your Baby
This might be very difficult at first. Some moms feel disconnected from their pregnancy and baby after finding out the gender and may even avoid preparing for their arrival. However, getting ready for your baby may actually help you get excited and overcome your disappointment. When you feel up for it picking names, buying clothes, and setting up a nursery are steps towards accepting and embracing your baby. As you shop, decorate, or plan for this baby you can start to re-imagine the future and find things to get excited about again.
Do You Ever Get Over Gender Disappointment?
Many moms-to-be find that with time to process and reflect they are able to overcome gender disappointment. Often even those who are still struggling with gender disappointment find that it doesn’t matter to them once their baby is born.
However, for some moms their gender disappointment can last well after their baby’s birth or is so extreme and overwhelming that disappointment turns to depression. This can also impact bonding with your baby. If you are concerned about the severity of gender disappointment, you should consider talking to a professional. A counselor or therapist can help you process these feelings.
What Are the Chances of Having a Girl After 1 Boy?
Roughly a 50/50 chance. Or more specifically, ~49%.
There are some factors like paternal age, medical history, and genetic abnormalities that can increase your chances of having a baby of a particular gender – those are rare and statistically insignificant.
So your chance of having any gender baby, for any pregnancy, is roughly the flip of a coin.
Can You Influence if You Have a Boy or Girl?
Yes… sort of.
Truth be told, there is no proven 100% guaranteed method that will help you conceive a baby of a certain gender.
However, there are many recommended techniques (based on science!) that can help tip the scales in favor of conceiving a boy or girl.
All of the methods are based around the concept of helping the correct sperm (either X or Y) reach the egg before the competing sperm. Suggestions can be based around predicting your ovulation timing, creating an ideal vaginal environment, or even sex positions.
Are you hoping to conceive a baby of a certain gender? Check on our articles on the subject: