Gender disappointment is a term that describes sadness or depression felt by a woman when she finds out she is having a boy or girl, but she wanted the opposite. Women can experience this disappointment either as a short-term period of sadness or as a more serious state of depression. Many women who experience gender disappointment may feel shameful or guilty for having these emotions. Shouldn’t I be happy my baby is healthy? As a result, many women keep these feelings to themselves. But, the truth is one in five women experience some level of disappointment with the gender of their baby. It is normal to be disappointed if the dream you hoped for doesn’t come true.
A woman’s dreams for a baby of a specific gender can be based on multiple factors including culture, education level, others’ opinions, or personal feelings. Cultural pressure can be a significant source of disappointment. For example, China has historically placed greater value on having male children. In the United States, there are a lot of gender stereotypes and expectations that can negatively affect women. What should you avoid saying if you are talking to a pregnant woman? The big thing is to avoid asking if she is hoping for a boy or girl or telling her she needs to have one gender over another.
So how do you handle disappointment? It may be easier for a woman to handle these negative feelings if she finds out the baby’s sex through ultrasound during her pregnancy instead of waiting until the baby is born to find out the sex. Less than one-third of couples keep their baby’s gender a surprise until the birth. These couples may not have the same time to cope emotionally with a disappointment compared to couples who find out their baby’s gender during pregnancy. Couples that find out the sex of their child before delivery have several months to come to terms with any disappointment.
Many women will stop feeling disappointed after the baby is born. They may consciously or subconsciously use something known as “active reframing” to find the positive in their situation. For women who experience gender disappointment, it is important to understand what is at the root of their sadness.
- identify why the gender of your baby is important
- talk to other women who has been through the same thing
- talk to a counselor or therapist to help find the positive in your situation
Disappointment affects everyone. There are many ways to cope with disappointment. The following tips are general recommendations to deal with disappointment, but they can also be helpful in dealing with gender disappointment.
- take time to experience what you are feeling
- separate the truth from negative self-talk
- choose to focus on the positive
- don’t spend your time thinking about the negatives
- find something that relaxes you and helps to relieve your anxiety
- use active reframing to interpret things in a positive way
- don’t let yourself be put down other people’s comments or opinions
- limit your interactions with people who are constantly negative
- consider writing or journaling to express your feelings
- practice positive thinking (ex. gratitude journal)
- practice deep breathing or meditation
For women with more serious and long-lasting sadness or depression before or after the birth of their baby, it is important to talk to a doctor or make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Stress and hormonal changes can contribute to depression during pregnancy. Postpartum depression affects women after childbirth and is a serious health condition. Your doctor can help to diagnose and treat your depression.