These days, it feels like there aren’t many fun and great surprises left — especially when you’re an adult, because adulting is the worst. This seems to be the biggest reason why some parents decide to not find out the sex of their baby until they’re born. Some may even argue that it’s a good way for the partner to feel more involved, since you’ll both find out at the same time. But can it be a secret for everyone or do OB-GYNs have to know the sex of your baby?
Dr. Adrienne Zertuche, an OB-GYN at a Division of Atlanta Women’s Healthcare Specialists, tells Romper, “If you wish for your anatomy ultrasound to exclude an evaluation of the genitalia, that is feasible. However, you should discuss the risks and benefits of this exclusion with your obstetrician before making your final decision. If the ultrasound does not fully evaluate the fetus (and its genitalia), it may be more likely to miss a birth defect or anomaly.”
According to Zertuche, most obstetricians recommend that the baby be screened for birth defects during a second trimester anatomy ultrasound, "and the genitalia are usually included in this evaluation." She says that for this reason, "in the overwhelming majority of pregnancies, your OB-GYN will know the sex of your baby, even if you want them to keep that information from you so that you can be surprised at the time of delivery."
Otherwise, typically, prenatal care is the same for both male and female fetuses, but the exceptions to this rule — though rare — include a sex chromosomal disorder in the baby or male birth defects from finasteride use by the baby’s father, according to Zertuche. Finasteride is used to shrink an enlarged prostate, and can cause birth defects in male babies, the Mayo Clinic noted.
As far as records go, however, your OB-GYN doesn't need to know the sex for their own records until he or she is delivered.
Even if your OB-GYN knows the sex, there's no reason you have to know. "If you announce that you do not want to know the sex of the baby prior to starting the ultrasound, your sonographer will simply avoid scanning the genitalia until the end of the exam (at which point he or she will ask you to divert your eyes). Obstetricians and ultrasound technicians have the necessary skills to ensure that your surprise will not be ruined," Zertuche says.
So if you want to keep your baby's sex a secret from everyone — including your own OB-GYN — you can. Just be sure to consider the risks of your baby not getting a full exam by a healthcare professional during their second trimester anatomy ultrasound. As always, discuss your plans with your healthcare provider.