What do we call our baby in the meantime?
Doctors may initially advise you not to think of your baby as a boy or a girl. Sometimes they ask you not to call your child by a name or say he or she. Some paretns are happy with this while others find it more difficult. Don't worry, you won't harm your child. Call your baby whatever feels right.
While you wait for test results you could use a simple endearing name, like sweetheart, hony, munchkin or darling... A couple whose baby was born on Halloween called their baby 'pumpkin', until a few days later 'pumpkin' became Max.
It is also common ( in the UK) for parents to say that they just have not found the rights name, and that they are waiting to see what name best fits their baby.
If your faith requires your baby to be named within the first few days, and when this is not possible, talk to your religious leader about the best way forward.
What do we tell our other children?
If you have older children they too of course will ask whether they have got a brother or a sister.
Depending on their age, you can tell them what is happening or –as they might be worried why baby needs various tests- try to reassure them without making up information. Remember that children accept things much easier than adults, and always try to use simple and honest language.
Make certain there are foundations of truth in what you say on which you can later build on what you tell any child. For example, you could say: ‘The baby is so new, the doctors can’t tell us yet.’ Or you could say ‘The baby first needs to be examined by doctors. So we are going to wait for a few days to name the baby. When we’re ready, we’d really like you to help choose the nicest name.’
'But we've already told everybody'
In some rare cases, for example if baby’s genitals look fairly typically male or female, doctors and midwives will say at the birth of a baby ‘you have a boy’ or ‘you have a girl’. However, a few hours later – sometimes after you have texted family and friends – doctors pick up on a variation of genital development and advise you that the sex of your baby is uncertain. In some cases, after all the necessary investigations, they may advise you to raise your child in the other sex of what has been announced.
One effective way to approach this is first to learn about - and learn to talk about - the diagnosis and the causes of it. Practice explaining this with your partner and with some doctors; this is also where psychologists and specialist nurses can really be of great help.
You can let friends and relatives know as much or as little as you want to.
Remember: if you are comfortable and confident about this, then your family and friends will be too. Stand tall!
Another way to handle this is to simply let friends and family know that there has been a mistake. You can say: ‘Her/his bits were small/tucked away/swollen and we/they got it wrong’.
In other cases, an ante-natal scan or tests might have suggested you are having a boy or a girl, and you have shared this information with friends before the birth. Then, when your baby is born, sex is not so clear. If these are your circumstances, there is no urgent reason to confirm or revisit this while you are getting more information. Use some of the strategies above, and concentrate on questions regarding health and feeding.
Another idea you might use if you have decided to raise your child a different sex from what you have announced, and you don’t want to share much information with friends and possibly relatives, is just to say that the ultrasound was mistaken and you have had a lovely surprise. ’These things happen!’