“Are you having a boy or a girl?!”

If you’ve been pregnant, you probably heard this question on repeat throughout your pregnancy.

While plenty of parents prefer to know their baby’s gender as early as possible (and cut the name list in half long before baby’s arrival!), that’s not everyone’s choice. As a doula, I am a huge fan of gender announcements at the birth! I have seen couples announce the baby by the name they’ve chosen, or the partner announces the baby’s gender to the room when the baby is born. 

While many believe gender is a construct, that hasn’t made gender reveal parties any less popular. Finding out your baby’s gender allows you to imagine who they might be and form thoughts around the person you’re creating. It allows you to bond with friends and family members over your pregnancy and share the colors you prefer for your children-to-be.

Unfortunately, we’ve all seen viral videos of parents who find they’re disappointed at a gender reveal. The videos we remember the most are the worst reactions — not to mention the comments others add. I’ve known more than one couple who experienced this exact situation! These reactions are not just memes, and it’s important to understand how to work through any emotional fallout from a gender reveal.

When it’s your partner

Your partner is human, and they are having a very human moment. If you don’t know why your partner is upset (as in, they hadn’t confirmed their gender hopes), ask. Wait until you’re both calm to talk through their feelings on the gender announcement. 

When it’s your family

Maybe this is the seventh grandchild and seventh girl grandchild. It can be annoying to seem like you’ve “disappointed” someone in your (or your partner’s) family, but they will love that baby no matter how they react to your news!

When it’s your friends

It can be hard to find a rebuttal when your friends tell you they’ve never pictured you as a “boy mom” or “girl mom.” In reality, there are only parents of people. You’re going to be great! 

When it’s you

You may be surprised to find yourself with some conflicted feelings once your baby’s gender is announced. Maybe you imagined having a little boy who looks like your partner. Maybe you imagined having a little girl and recreating the mother-daughter relationship you had! Others don’t want to recreate the dynamics experienced in their mother-daughter relationship and are very concerned about that.

One of my favorite things to tell my clients is, “You get who you need.” It’s honestly such a relief to know that no matter what, you get exactly the kid you need! That’s always been such a comfort to me. I knew that whether my kids were boys or girls, they would be exactly who I needed to grow into my best self. We all grow up together, and sometimes that starts with confronting our emotional baggage around gender and family relationships — once the party’s over.

Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.