When is the best time to book a private gender reveal scan?
It can be tempting to pay for a private gender reveal scan while waiting for your 20-week NHS scan. But is it worth it? And when is the best stage of pregnancy to have one? Here’s what you need to know – with advice for mums-to-be who’ve been there
If you’re super excited to find out the sex of your baby, you might be tempted to pay for a private scan before your 20-week abnormality scan on the NHS.
This scan isn’t designed to reveal your baby’s sex, but oftentimes you will be able to find out whether you’re expecting a boy or a girl during this appointment.
Trying to find out before 20 weeks can be so lovely, and a bonding experience for you and your partner.
It can also be a bit hit-and-miss, and there’s no guarantee an earlier scan will reveal the news you so desperately want to know – especially if you’re still quite early on in your pregnancy.
Still, here’s our guide to booking a pre-20 week scan to find out your baby’s sex…
So, when should I have a private gender scan, before 20 weeks?
If you’re going to have a private scan to find out your baby’s sex, the best time to do this is when you're past the 16-week mark.
We'd say it's best to wait as far past the 16-week mark as you can go, to up your chances of getting a result.
How do we know? Well, we asked our MFM mums-to-be, and our Bump Project mums, to tell us when they got the best results.
"We found out earlier at 16 weeks during a private reassurance scan that we were having a girl," says Ann-Marie L. "I also had my [20 week] scan in July and it went really well.
"You get to see so much of the baby and it is definitely reassuring to know everything is as it should be at this stage."
Chloe C went for a scan about the 15/16 week mark. "We’ve paid for a private wellbeing and gender scan for tomorrow 04.04.18. We are so excited!
"I’m a very impatient person and I have no incline at all whether this baby is a boy or girl and it’s driving me mental!"
Unfortunately, it didn't give her the results she wants, and she says: "I don’t recommend a private gender scan, not until you're at least 17 weeks. But then when you’re there, you might as well wait 3 weeks till 20 weeks."
As it happens, Chloe's NHS scan at around 20 weeks couldn't confirm the gender, either.
Daniella S shared that she was able to book a private gender scan from 16 weeks onwards, and by her 15th week, she was desperate to find out if it was a boy or a girl.
"We'll pay for a a private scan because we can go from 16 weeks, and too impatient to wait for 20 weeks!" she told us.
She especially loved the fact she got a scan photo, and was able to pay an off-peak price of £40 for an in-depth scan session.
Daniella also took several family members to the scan, as well as her partner, and made an event out of it - even taking along her great-grandma, who'd never seen a baby scan before!
Mum-to-be Lucy W couldn't resist a private gender reveal scan at 16 weeks - after initially saying she wouldn't waste the money.
At 15 weeks pregnant, she told us: "We'll wait for an NHS scan as it seems a waste of money just to cut it down by a few weeks. The money saved can go towards something else for the baby!"
Cut to one week later and... "We gave in and had a private scan this week! I got to 16 weeks and had an overwhelming urge to find out the gender.
"I think this resulted from a really disappointing midwife appointment the previous day. I had hyped myself up for a positive appointment where I would get to share my excitement about things with my midwife, only to be rushed in and out within 6 minutes.
"I'm having a......BOY! The whole experience was great, with the booking on and appointment for the scan being within 12 hours or so, and the sonographer being calming.
"I felt nervous and excited at the same time and could clearly see on the screen that it was a boy before she announced it to us.
"It was a much bigger (projected) screen to the hospital, and more space for others to come along to if I had wanted.
"They gave us some pictures to take away, but the machine was a little more dated than the one in the hospital, so the pictures were a little more grainy."
Remember, every experience is different... and it's important to do your research on scan facilities before you think about booking anything.
How far in advance should I book a private gender reveal scan?
It depends. Some places might be backed up for a few weeks. Others might have availability within a week, or maybe even sooner.
For example, Ann-Marie L told us she booked hers when she was 15 weeks along, to attend during her 16th week of pregnancy.
For Lucy W, things moved even faster: "I booked it online and within 24 hours we were attending a private scan centre."
Make sure you do your research on where you'd like to go, and give them a call or check their online booking calendar.
If I book a private gender scan before 20 weeks, will I definitely find out my baby’s sex?
Sadly, no. Just because you want to find out before 20 weeks, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to.
Annoyingly, a private scan facility probably won’t tell you the best time in your pregnancy to book to get the result you want, so you may end up leaving disappointed.
We know one of our Bump Project mums found herself feeling let down when exactly the above scenario happened to her - so it's important to keep that in mind.
Chloe C admitted she was "hugely disappointed" with the gender scan - having looked forward to it since finding out she was pregnant.
"It's something I've been waiting for since day dot. It took a lot of convincing from my husband. He was like, 'let's just wait another month'. I really want to know.
"We got in the room. She was nice. This is my second time with [the scan clinic]. Thankfully, it was a different sonographer. I’m not a fan of the company so I won't be using them again. It’s a lot of money to pay especially for a private scan - £59 is a good price because the early one was £89. I just find they're professional but a bit cold and not the nicest of people...
"It was nice 'cause my husband came. She put the jelly on, and it was really warm, it wasn’t cold. That was a shock. She asked how far I am, I said, '16 weeks to the day'. And she was like. .you’ve made this difficult for me'.
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"Without being too bolshy, I said, 'On your website it says from 16 weeks up to 32. It doesn’t say 16 plus 4, it doesn’t say from 17. It says 16 to 32 weeks'. She didn’t say anything. I didn’t really like her from then.
"She was like, 'I'll be honest with you, it could be a boy or a girl. I looked to my left, my husband he was fuming. The baby's foot was right where she needed to look. She wanted me to raise my hips up trying the shake baby. then she was looking and was like, 'ahh I think it’s a girl'.
"My husband and I looked at each other and [he] was like, 'oh my gosh'. I didn't realise how much he wanted a little girl. Then she looked round and said, .oh oooh it could be a boy.. Then she went straight into the 4D mode. My husband and I were like, 'so what is it?' and she said, 'it could be a boy or a girl, but I reckon it’s a boy but don’t buy anything and don’t do any announcements'.
"So we've left that scan paying for a gender scan not knowing what the gender is. Who would’ve known. I didn’t leave a good review. I left an honest review. I was polite. Of course they cant say 100% sure it’s a boy, but what she did say was female genitalia can be very swollen and boys genitalia are still developing.
"Right now, we know its not twins and it could either be a boy or girl. We’re assuming because she’s seen something.
"Next month, we’ve got our 20 week scan so when we find out there hopefully for sure I'll see his lil winkie floating. Then I can start looking at things like clothe and decorating his bedroom. And referring to him as 'he' as opposed to 'the baby'."
Even if you follow our MFMers’ advice to a tee - and book after 16 weeks - you may still be thrown a few obstacles: like your baby’s not-very-revealing position on the day of the scan.
All that said, it’s not 100% guaranteed you’ll find out in your 20 week scan, either.
Most families will, though sometimes your baby’s position in the womb can make it a tad tricky for the sonographer to tell you for sure ?
On rare occasions, you might find the sonographer’s revelation to be wrong when your little one arrives - they’re going off a very blurry image, using their skill and training to determine the sex, so it’s not an exact science.
You may also be surprised to know that some NHS hospitals ask for an extra payment to find out the sex at the routine 20 week scan - Ann-Marie L was asked to pay £30 at hers. So, it might be 6 and 2 3s as to whether you try a private scan or wait to find out.
Can I book multiple private scans to ensure I find out the sex before 20 weeks?
In theory, you can book and pay for as many private scans as you want.
However, they don’t come cheap (anything from £40 to £90) – and you’re likely to feel doubly disappointed if you keep going in and still don’t find out the sex.
If you’re desperate to know what the sex will be, we’d suggest giving one scan a go, around the 16-week mark or after, and if you don’t have any luck, wait until your check up.
If you’re thinking of having multiple private scans in the run-up to your 20-week appointment because you’re worrying excessively about the gender, or your baby’s health, please go and see your GP or speak to your midwife about your concerns.
Is it worth waiting until 20 weeks to find out my baby's sex?
It's up to you. And it really depends on how much you want to know, and whether you can afford to pay for a private scan, and if you're happy to take the chance that you *might* not find out.
Laura D and her partner gave a private gender reveal scan a lot of thought, before deciding to wait until the routine NHS check.
"We have agonised over this," she confesses to MFM. "There is a slot available the morning we go on holiday which we were going to use.
"The reason why we've decided not to is in case anything is wrong - we wouldn't want to be faced with going on holiday worried/in a panic.
"By the time we get back we will only have 3 weeks to wait so it seems silly to pay extra for 3 weeks. I want to know more that he/she is healthy rather than what the sex is."
Share your story
Did you have a private scan before the 20-week mark? Perhaps you went a little overboard with private scans, and want to share your experience?
Please get in touch with us, in the comments below…
Images: Getty Images