Our 'little princess' was a boy: When sonographers get it wrong

From Lily-Mae to Joseph ... the nursery before and after the baby's birth
From Lily-Mae to Joseph ... the nursery before and after the baby's birth 

Sarah Sharples was ready for her baby girl to arrive.

She and her husband Lee had wardrobes and drawers full of pink clothes, pink toys posed along the shelves, and pink baby blankets. The couple, from Blyth, Northumberland in the UK, had also painted the nursery walls pink.  

Once they'd been told that their first daughter would be a girl at their 20-week scan, the couple had gone a spree, spending around AU$5100 on all they needed.

Oops ... Sarah Sharples with some of the pink clothing she bought for her baby
Oops ... Sarah Sharples with some of the pink clothing she bought for her baby 

“It was my first baby and so we had to buy all the essentials,” Sarah told The Daily Mail.

“I wanted everything to be perfect for her so that she would want for nothing. Being prepared was my main concern, and seeing as I knew I was having a girl I didn't see the harm in buying everything in pink.”

The couple chose a name, Lily-Mae, and stencilled it across the nursery’s dark pink feature wall.

“We even had personalised blankets as gifts from family and friends,” Sarah added.

When the 25-year-old went into labour a month early, she had a few worries about the baby’s health – but at least knew she had everyuthing at home ready for her little girl.

The only problem? Her “little princess” was born a boy.


After the birth, the midwife told Lee that there was something they needed to see.

“I instantly started panicking, thinking ‘what could possibly be wrong?’” Sarah remembers.

“She then said she wanted to congratulate us on the birth of our son. We looked at each other and couldn't believe that Lily-Mae was actually a boy.”

The shocked couple decided to name their surprise son Joseph.

What followed was the start of a long, slow process, trying to return at least some of the toys and baby supplies in exchange for more gender-neutral – or at least not-pink – items for baby Joseph.  

What are the chances?

Sarah certainly wasn’t the first mum to be told she was having a girl, only to welcome a boy a few months later; the Essential Baby forums offer many examples of the mix-up.

“A friend has today given birth to a baby boy. She had four ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy that all said [it was a] girl, the baby was born this morning and is very definitely a boy,” one wrote.

“My best friend decided she would find out the gender of her last (fourth) baby after not having found out with her other three.  She was told several times that she was having a girl, and after three boys she was very excited … Boy #4 ended up arriving,” wrote another.

It makes sense that the mum-to-be could be erroneously told they were having a girl – if a boy isn’t positioned in the best spot during the ultrasound, the genitals can be missed.

But sonographers can get it wrong the other way, too, as another Essential Baby wrote: “My friend was told at three different ultrasounds that she was having a boy, she brought blue everything and out popped a girl!”

So how can you be sure you’re getting the right information as you’re anxiously looking at the ultrasound screen?

The more experienced the sonographer and the higher the quality of the sonogram machine, the more likely you are to get an accurate assessment. It helps if the baby is cooperating and facing the right way, too, but you can’t do much to change that.

But really, the simple fact is that even the most experienced sonographers can – and do – get it wrong.

Your best bet is to take whatever is said with a grain of salt and have a sense of humour abut it all … because babies do have a habit of messing up your best laid plans!

Parents: did the sonographer get it right for you? Vote in the poll and have your say below.