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Finding Out the Gender vs. Not Finding Out the Gender

Photograph by Twenty20

Choosing to discover the gender of your unborn baby can be one of the hardest decisions a newly pregnant couple can make. It's not unusual for one parent to want to know the baby's gender prior to birth and the other to want to wait and see. Discovering your baby's gender before your baby is born can have its advantages, but not knowing can heighten the thrill and wonder of your baby's birth. Unless there are health risks, knowing your baby's gender before or after birth is a completely personal decision for each expectant couple.

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Reasons to Know

Knowing if your baby is a boy or a girl can help with many decisions, such as names, nursery decorations, toys and clothes. Some parents feel that knowing the baby's sex helps them bond with their child prior to birth. If you have other children, knowing the new addition's gender may help the family feel involved and connected. Younger siblings relate better to specifics, such as "girl" or "boy," rather than generic terms such as "baby."

Reasons to Wait

Learning your baby's gender the old-fashioned way can provide hours of fun, daydreaming and speculation for you, your spouse, family and friends. But more practical reasons for not finding out your baby's gender is to avoid receiving too many gender-specific toys and clothes. Also, technology to determine your child's gender is not always 100 percent accurate. Tests used to find out your child's sex are relatively safe, but some do carry a slight risk to the fetus, cautions the Food and Drug Administration.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound can be used to identify the gender of your baby between 18 and 26 weeks. The use of ultrasound imaging is routinely performed at a very low setting to verify the size and location of the fetus, any birth defects and the age of the baby. However, the FDA warns against using ultrasound unless it is necessary. Some businesses offer fetal pictures and videos that use higher ultrasound intensities performed by non-medical personnel. The FDA notes that such procedures pose a risk to you and your baby.

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Amniocentesis

Amniocentesis is another way to identify the gender of your baby, but that is not its primary function. This diagnostic test is usually performed when there is a concern of an inherited or genetic problem with the fetus. A needle is inserted through the abdomen into the uterus, and amniotic fluid is drawn off to be tested. It is usually performed between 14 and 20 weeks of gestation. Amniocentesis carries a 1.0 to 1.5 percent risk of complication from infection, injury to the baby, rupture of membranes and miscarriage.

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