It's the second question people ask when you're pregnant.
First, they ask when you're due and then they always follow it up with, "Do you know what you're having?"
It wasn't so very long ago that finding out the sex of your baby during pregnancy wasn't even an option. My parents' generation had no choice but to be surprised unless they had some complication that required an ultrasound.
However, when anatomy scans became the standard of care around 20 weeks, more and more people began finding out the sex of their babies before birth. This new practice led to the rise of the ever-divisive gender reveal party (Personally, I'm a fan of any reason to party and have cake).
While finding out the sex during pregnancy is still very common, I have noticed a trend among my own friends and acquaintances back to keeping it a surprise.
I've personally done it both ways - we found out the sex with our first two and our third, tie-breaker baby was a surprise.
If you aren't sure which approach you want to take, I thought I would break down some of the pros and cons from both experiences here to help you decide.
Finding Out During Pregnancy
Pro: Picking a name
If you're anything like my husband and me, you struggle to choose names together. I grew up with a fairly uncommon name, so I like unusual names. My husband grew up with an extremely common name and likes really traditional names. He thinks the names I like are weird, and I think the names he likes are boring. When you know the sex of the baby beforehand, you only have to choose a name for one sex instead of having to agree on two different names.
Con: They might be wrong
I know this sounds like one of those outlandish stories that never really happens, but I actually know of a few people personally who were told the wrong gender. Can you imagine planning and preparing for a girl only to find out at birth it's a boy?
If you're a Type A person, the planning aspect of finding out will really appeal to you. I'm not a Type A by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a creative and love making things for my babies. I loved crocheting adorable little baby sweaters and headbands for my daughter and sewing custom curtains with tractors on them for my son's nursery. There's still plenty of planning and organizing to do when you don't find out, but knowing the sex just gives you one more piece of information to work with.
Con: Everyone's opinions
Every pregnant mama knows that being pregnant opens you up to everyone's opinions about everything - and the sex of your baby is no exception. When I was pregnant with my first son and people found out I was having a boy after already having a girl, they almost always said, "Lucky you! You get to be done already!"
It drove me absolutely nuts. I always wanted more kids and the genitalia they possessed had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I wanted more kids. I would have been just as thrilled had I been having another girl at that time, but I know people would have instead said, "Oh... are you going to try again for a boy?"
Then, of course, they give their opinions on the names you've chosen and everything else. Once the baby is here and named, most people are too busy cooing over the beautiful new baby for all that mess... although some people will still drive you nuts.
Being Surprised at Birth
Pro: The moment of birth
This is honestly the big reason most people give for keeping it a surprise. It really does add a certain extra level of excitement during labor knowing that you're about to finally find out who you've been carrying all this time. Also, everyone's reactions to whether they were right or wrong in their guesses is really fun. (For the record: I have been 100% wrong for all 3 of my kids. That whole mother's intuition thing just does not work for me when it comes to guessing the sex of my babies apparently)
Con: Gender disappointment
This isn't something that happens to everyone, but gender disappointment is real and it's normal. Some people have very valid reasons for hoping for one sex over another, and when that doesn't happen, it can be disappointing. I know moms say that once the baby is here, you don't care anymore, but I would never want to risk my first reaction to my newborn baby being one of disappointment if I could help it.
Also, moms aren't the only ones at risks of feeling disappointed. We are done having children, but if I were to ever have any more, I would seriously consider finding out for my daughter's sake. She has always wanted a sister, but instead she has 2 little brothers. She absolutely adores them, but if she were to find out she would have a 3rd little brother, I think she might need some time to adjust to that news.
Pro: Gender neutral stuff is getting a lot cuter
Long gone are the days of harsh yellow being the only option for gender neutral baby items. Baby items now come in a wide variety of gender neutral color and pattern options. Just check out this photo of my surprise baby visiting with his big brother in the hospital after he was born:
Con: Limited shopping
If you ask my husband, this is actually a pro. I loved shopping for my babies when I was pregnant. I always got plenty of gifts from family and friends, but I enjoyed picking out a few outfits and items that were especially my style. With my surprise baby, I bought a few things because I knew he would need to wear something for a few weeks before I had a chance to get a more specific wardrobe, but I really didn't shop as much. Every time I would go to buy something for the baby, I kept thinking to myself I'd rather just wait until I knew what sex the baby was and buy more clothes then.
Overall, I honestly don't think either experience was better than the other. I bonded just fine with all 3 babies and enjoyed pregnancy each time. Both experiences were really fun in their own ways, so if you feel strongly that you want to find out or keep it a surprise, go for it.
If you're truly on the fence and don't know which way you want to go and this list didn't heavily influence you one way or the other, I'd say keep it a surprise just for the heck of it. It is really fun keeping everyone guessing until the very end.