How to Accept Your Baby's Gender

Three Parts:Examining Your Gender Concerns and ExpectationsWorking Through Gender DisappointmentBonding With Your Baby

Many expectant or new parents may experience surprise or disappointment over their baby’s gender. These feelings can cause anxiety, stress, and depression. By reflecting on your concerns, taking steps to get past your disappointment, and bonding with your baby, you can learn to accept and embrace your baby’s gender.

Part 1
Examining Your Gender Concerns and Expectations

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    Think about why you are having a hard time accepting your baby’s gender. The first step toward accepting your baby’s gender is to think about and identify why you are concerned about or disappointed in your baby’s gender. Personal beliefs, your cultural background, family pressure, and society’s expectations can all influence how you feel about your baby’s gender. While your feelings are personal and unique, here is a list of common reasons why people may have difficulty accepting their baby’s gender:[1][2][3]
    • Some cultures value one gender more than another, or place limitations and impose strict gender roles.
    • Your family has expectations that your child should be a certain gender or behave a certain way.
    • You may already have children of one gender, and hoped for your next baby to be the same gender or a different one.
    • Sometimes a parent feels like they will be better able to relate or connect with one gender more than another.
    • There is a perception that one gender is easier or harder to parent.
    • You hoped for a child who did not share your gender. You may feel like you faced gender discrimination and don’t want your child to face the same circumstances.
    • You may feel like only boys can carry on your name or legacy.
    • You planned for one gender, but your child turned out to be another. For example, an initial ultrasound may have indicated you would have a girl, but you end up having a boy.
    • Concerns that one gender has a greater risk of inheriting a genetic disease or condition.
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    Ask yourself if your struggle to accept your baby’s gender is really about the baby’s gender or a fantasy about the baby’s gender. It’s natural for parents to think about the gender of their baby and envision how the baby will fit in the family and imagine what the baby will be like as a child, a teenager, and as an adult. So, when the baby’s gender turns out to be different from what you expected, experts say you are reacting more to the disruption in your dream or fantasy than you are to your baby.[4]
    • Don’t feel like your baby is a mistake or the wrong gender. Instead, embrace the new possibilities and create a new dream.[5]
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    Avoid thinking that you will fail to connect with your baby because of its gender. Don’t make assumptions that one gender gets along with one parent more easily than another or can only take part in certain activities. A child will love and connect with parents who put in the time and effort to provide support.[6][7]
    • As a parent, your actions and words determine whether or not you will bond with your child.
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    Challenge yourself and your gender expectations. You can make a commitment to accepting your child’s gender and confront any negative gender assumptions you may have.
    • For example, if there were things you looked forward to doing with a boy or girl, ask yourself if it’s really impossible to do these with a child of the other gender.
    • At the same time, you can also think about and celebrate the new opportunities you may have. For example, think about the special relationship that mothers and sons can have or fathers and daughters.
    • Remember, a child can do anything when parents offer support, love, and encouragement.
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    Ask for medical advice if you are concerned about the child's gender increasing the risk of inheriting a disease. Many medical professionals can do testing before and after the baby is born to determine if they may be at risk for contracting a hereditary condition. Medical professionals can tell you if your concerns are valid, and they can also provide advice on how to prepare for and treat a child with this condition.
    • Being prepared and confronting your fears is better than worrying and feeling hopeless.
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    Make a commitment to accepting your baby’s gender. If you make a commitment to accepting your baby’s gender, you’ll be better able to cope with your feelings and move forward.
    • Think about the consequences of raising a child who feels unwanted and unloved because of their gender. He or she may suffer from low self esteem, difficulty accepting themselves, problems connecting with others, and having successful relationships.
    • To prevent this from occurring, you can start working through your gender disappointment.

Part 2
Working Through Gender Disappointment

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    Acknowledge how you are feeling. Although gender disappointment might seem like a taboo topic, if you don’t admit how you are feeling, you are going to have a hard time moving past it and learning to accept your baby's gender. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:[8][9]
    • Write a letter about how you feel. When you’re done, try tearing it up or burning the letter. This can help you like you are letting go of your disappointment and concerns. Keeping the letter around can act as a constant reminder of these feelings, and it won’t help you move forward.
    • Talk with a friend or family member about what you are experiencing. The chances are high that they have dealt with a similar situation or know other people who have, and they might be able to offer some good advice on how to accept your baby’s gender.[10]
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    Realize that you are not alone. You might worry that you are the only person struggling to accept your baby’s gender and that it means you will not be a good parent. Many people, however, admit that they have felt disappointed about the gender of their baby at different points in their lives. Here are a few ideas about how you can feel less isolated and alone:[11][12]
    • Many parenting magazines and websites offer ways to connect with men and women who may also be struggling to accept their baby’s gender. Consider joining a chat room or posting on an online bulletin board. You will feel less isolated, and may also be able to help someone else improve their situation.[13]
    • If you know other new mothers or fathers in your area who may be having a hard time accepting their baby’s gender, form a support group and establish regular meetings. You can also join an existing support group for expectant parents or new parents.
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    Be honest with your significant other about what you are feeling and thinking. You might feel reluctant to communicate with your significant other about your feelings for fear that he or she will be upset, angry, or hurt. However, attempting to hide your feelings will prevent you from working as as a team to parent and raise your baby.[14]
    • Since you’ve probably spent some time examining your concerns, you can communicate with your significant other about why you are having a difficult time accepting your baby’s gender. Explain that this is something you are committed to resolving, and that you would value their support and advice. He or she may be able to help reassure you, and if you agree to work on the matter together, you’ll both feel less upset, anxious, and disappointed.
    • Trying to disguise your disappointment isn’t a long-term solution, and your significant other may be more hurt if you wait to share your concerns.
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    Meet with a doctor, midwife, nurse, or counselor. Setting up a time to meet and talk with a midwife, doctor, nurse, or counselor about what you are going through is an important step in feeling better. They interact with many parents-to-be, and are experienced in offering emotional support and medical care for any problems that may arise.[15]
    • They will also be able to identify whether your gender disappointment might be caused by a medical condition such as postpartum depression.[16]
    • If you feel like your current medical professional is not supportive or understanding of your situation, consider working with someone else.
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    Remind yourself that this is your baby, regardless of its gender. Instead of focusing on how disappointed you feel or how hard it is to accept your baby’s gender, try thinking about how amazing and miraculous it is that you and your significant other created this baby. Remind yourself that your baby needs your love, support, and acceptance, and this has nothing to do with gender.[17][18]
    • Keep in mind that every baby, whether a girl or a boy, has the same basic needs—food, sleep, attention, affection, and love.
    • It can also be helpful to remember that gender is only one aspect of what makes your baby who they are. Instead of fixating on gender, think about the personality traits, physical features, and family background and history that make your baby unique and special.
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    Raise your child in a way that helps him or her overcome cultural prejudices related to gender. If your reason for not wanting a certain gender comes from cultural or social expectations, teach your child to accept themselves regardless of her or his gender. Instead of conforming to other people’s ideas about what your child can or can’t do, support your child in whatever they decide to do and teach them to challenge gender barriers and gender prejudice.[19][20]
    • For example, having a daughter doesn’t mean you can’t play sports with them, fish with them, or bond with them. Avoid teaching your children that activities are off limits because of their gender.
    • While you can share activities with your child regardless of her or his gender, it’s important not to force them to do things they aren’t interested in. This could jeopardize your relationship with your child, and make it difficult to accept his or her gender.
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    Give back. One way to help you cope with gender disappointment and accept your baby’s gender is to volunteer your time to work with children in your community.[21]
    • For example, if part of your dream of having a boy was to coach your son’s sports team, consider signing up to coach a team in your area.
    • If you imagined yourself mentoring a daughter, you could volunteer to be a role model for young women in your community.

Part 3
Bonding With Your Baby

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    Cuddle with your baby. Researchers have shown that cuddling with your baby increases the bonding chemistry between parents and newborns. As a result, cuddling may also help you accept your baby’s gender and improve your connection with your newborn.[22][23]
    • Touch your baby’s skin.
    • Nuzzle the top of your baby’s head.
    • Smell your baby.
    • Look into your baby’s eyes.
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    Be involved in your baby’s care. Feeding, bathing, and changing diapers may seem like chores, but performing these activities will help you feel more responsible and closer to your baby. [24]
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    Take your baby places. Go for a walk around the neighborhood with your baby in a stroller, take them to the grocery store, or walk around the mall. The more time you spend with your baby, the closer you will feel to him or her, and the time spent on these activities will promote gender acceptance.[25]
    • You will also encounter many people who admire and compliment your baby, which will make you feel even more like a proud parent.
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    Tell your baby you love them just the way they are. Even if you still feel disappointed that your baby’s gender is different from expected, tell your baby you love them just the way they are. It’s important for your baby to feel loved, but verbalizing acceptance will also help you feel more accepting.[26]
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    Be patient. While television and movies often depict the bond between parents and babies as immediate, this isn’t always the case in real life. Be patient, and give yourself time to process all the changes in your life.[27]
    • Pregnancy and the initial months after the baby is born bring major physical and emotional changes. Sleep deprivation, hormone levels, and lifestyle shifts may make you feel disappointed, depressed, and like you are having a hard time accepting your baby’s gender.
    • Pressuring yourself to bond with your baby may make you feel more anxious and disappointed, so take your time.
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    Expect your feelings to re-emerge. Although you may feel like you have come to terms with your baby’s gender and have successfully bonded with your child, it’s natural for your previous concerns and feelings to re-emerge occasionally. When this happens, don’t be hard on yourself.[28]
    • Sometimes, it can be helpful to think about what may have triggered your feelings. For example, did you see a baby in a store or hear someone talk about their baby that reminded you of how you initially felt?
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    Seek help. If you are struggling to bond with your new baby and accept your baby’s gender, it’s important to seek help and work with a mental-health professional. A trained psychologist, counselor, or therapist, can help you connect with your baby and learn to accept your baby’s gender.[29]


  • Keep in mind that all babies, regardless of gender, share the same basic needs. Gender is also only one small part of what makes your baby who they are.
  • Your child’s gender identity will evolve throughout their lives based on genetics, upbringing, and experiences. Just because your baby was born a boy or girl does not mean that they will always think of themselves this way. Regardless of these changes, it is your responsibility as a parent to provide love and support.


  • If you are struggling to accept your baby’s gender, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental-health or medical professional. They can help you resolve your concerns and raise a happy and healthy child.

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Categories: Babies and Infants | Pregnancy