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Coping with Gender Disappointment

Coping with Gender Disappointment
Gender disappointment - a reality for many during pregnancy.

From the moment you first become pregnant, you start planning your whole world around that little person. Your mind is filled with hopes and dreams. You start to paint a mental picture of what your life might be like together.

Maybe they’ll have your partners green eyes, and your olive skin. Perhaps they’ll have their Grandfather’s bushy eyebrows?

Or the family talent for music or sports?

Perhaps you always dreamed of having a little girl?

Maybe you always saw yourself as a boy mama?

These dreams can be powerful. But when they are shattered by an ultrasound that isn’t consistent with them, it can be really devastating. This is gender disappointment.

What causes Gender Disappointment?

Gender disappointment can be fuelled by factors including cultural, societal or family pressures. Sometimes these favour, prefer or encourage one gender over another. If your baby’s sex doesn’t match those expectations, you might feel like you have failed

While all of these factors can place an enormous weight of pressure on us, something we need to remember is: none of us have any control over the sex of our babies. It’s all down to chance.

Many of us will even have multiple children of the same sex. However, I want you to know, that even though you might feel sad or disappointed, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby, or that you will love them any less.

How can I work through Gender Disappointment?

Your feelings are valid and real. They will take time to process. However, for some, the disappointment fades quickly. They simply adjust their dreams and are able to get excited about the baby growing in their belly and the wonderful life they will have together

It can be helpful to open up to your partner, friends or family about how you’re feeling. After all, some of the amazing people in your life have experienced similar feelings before!

For others, the grief response can be really difficult to handle. On some occasions, therapy can be helpful if it is really impacting you, or if after baby’s is born, it affects your ability to bond with them.

If you are really struggling to come to terms with your baby’s sex, it might be helpful to consider speaking to your Dr or mental health professional to ensure you have the right supports in place. This is particularly helpful if it is really impacting you, or if after baby is born, it affects your ability to bond with them.

For more on Gender Disappointment, make sure you check out our Instagram post.


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It’s important to note this blog is general education only. For any personal based advice regarding you or your baby please seek advice from your own healthcare professional.

  1. Boyce, P., & Hickey, A. R. (2005). Psychosocial risk factors to major depression after childbirth. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology40(8), 605–612.
  2. Groenewald, F. M. (2016). “Slugs and snails and puppy dogs” tails’ : exploring the “gender disappointment” experiences of mothers of boys who wanted a daughter : an interpretative phenomenological analysis.
  3. Hendl, T., & Browne, T. K. (2019). Is ‘gender disappointment’ a unique mental illness? Medicine Health Care and Philosophy.
  4. Young, N., Hallam, J., Jackson, J., Barnes, C., & Montague, J. (2021). Exploring the lived experiences of mothers who identify with ‘gender disappointment.’ Journal of Health Visiting9(11), 470–478.