Articles - Dealing With Gender Disappointment
How did you feel about the sex of your baby?

Dealing With Gender Disappointment


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How did you feel about the sex of your baby?

Becoming a parent comes with many hopes and dreams including wanting an easy pregnancy, a positive birth experience and, for some people, the desire to have a child of a particular gender.

There can be a lot of shame for the parent experiencing these feelings, constantly being told they should ‘just hope for a healthy baby’ or ‘be grateful you can conceive and have a baby at all’. Some may receive judgement from others for openly expressing their preference for a specific gender, and for having feelings of disappointment if their baby is not what they'd hoped for.

There are many reasons why someone may have a strong desire for a specific gender of child:

  • expecting the baby to be of a particular gender and then being shocked when it is another
  • already having one or several children of one gender
  • feeling they wouldn’t know how to relate to a specific sex
  • experience of abuse with a particular gender
  • family or cultural pressure

These feelings are genuine and valid. Parents may feel grief or a sense of loss at the realisation that the relationship with their child will not be as they envisioned; or they may never have a son or a daughter. During an already emotional time, these feelings can be very distressing. Because of the controversy around gender disappointment, parents may find themselves unable to express and process these feelings. However, it's important for new new parents to address the entire range of emotions (not just the "right ones") that they will be experiencing, and their feelings need to be heard and validated.

Talking is an important coping mechanism when dealing with gender disappointment. Find someone you can talk to without fear of judgement, and let your heart pour out. This could be your partner, a family member, a friend or an online community – whatever the case, they should be someone who will listen and respect your feelings.

We are not often given space and time or understanding to grieve aspects of birth. Whether that's having a birth you didn't want, not being supported in the way you desired or even motherhood not unfolding in the way you had hoped. All of these feelings are valid and having a safe place to talk about them can often bring some healing and resolution so you can move forward and enjoy your life as a parent.

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