The 20 week scan is a big deal; it gives you an idea of anomaly risk factors—and of course, you get to find out what you’re having, boy or girl. But the latter could no longer be part of the procedure.
Scotland is spearheading a new direction in ultrasound protocol, taking what many consider a hard-line approach to gender reveals.
Around 16 weeks gestation, sonographers can usually identify the sex of the baby. This typically happens at the mid-pregnancy scan, the primary purpose thereof to rule out foetal abnormalities. Some parents opt out of the big reveal, preferring to wait until the birth, while many cannot wait for the moment; finding out can often help strengthen the bond with your child in-utero, and obviously, you can plan that teeny tiny wardrobe.
But medical professionals say disclosing the sex of the baby has its downsides; if the ultrasound technicians get it wrong, legal action is an all-too-common recourse, and hospitals can’t afford the risk.
In Scotland, several hospitals are safeguarding against such scenarios by refusing to identify the foetal sex.
One Scottish midwife explains that hospital litigation costs aren’t the only financial fallout—families can also incur cost when health professionals make a mistake: “I had a case where a couple were told they were having a wee girl and everything they had was pink, the nursery was decorated pink, and then they had a boy.”
NHS Grampian spokesperson says that a new line will be inserted in policy documents stating that “gender is not determined” unless there is a medical condition identified within the womb.
Hospitals in Orkney and Shetland have followed suit with denial of sex identification during scans.
The National Childbirth Trust charity points out that many expectant parents are left disappointed following their scans, after months of anticipation to find out more about their child.
Senior policy adviser Elizabeth Duff responds: “Naturally, while having a scan many parents want to find out the sex of their baby – it’s exciting, enables them to plan and can help with bonding. However, due to many factors such as the clarity of the images and position of the baby, the sonographer cannot guarantee they will accurately identify the baby’s gender.”
Whether this new policy will roll out in the rest of the UK remains to be seen, but it could be that the gender reveal celebration trend could fizzle out sooner than expected.