Baby's First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal - download pdf or read online

By Lisa M. Mitchell

Appearing via advancements in drugs, in risky debates over abortion rights, in renowned publications to being pregnant, and in ads for vehicles and long-distance cellphone plans, the fetus has turn into an more and more well-known a part of our social panorama in Canada. Lisa Mitchell presents a severe anthropological point of view at the fetal topic, really because it emerges in the course of the perform of ultrasound imaging.

'Seeing the baby,' is now a regimen and anticipated a part of being pregnant and prenatal care in Canada. Conventionally understood as a impartial and passive expertise, ultrasound seems to be a 'window' by which to monitor fetal intercourse, age, measurement, actual normality, and behavior. although, Mitchell argues, what's noticeable via ultrasound is neither self-evident nor usual, yet traditionally and culturally contingent and topic to quite a lot of interpretation.

Drawing upon fieldwork during the last ten years, the writer comprises observations at ultrasound clinics, interviews with pregnant girls and their companions, and a dialogue on how ultrasound's echoes turn into significant as 'baby's first photo' - a photograph of the fetus in utero.

Throughout, Mitchell probes our popularity of this know-how, our willingness to take fetal imaging without any consideration, and illuminates the hyperlinks among this technologically mediated 'fetal truth' and the politics of gender and copy in Canada.

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Additional resources for Baby's First Picture: Ultrasound and the Politics of Fetal Subjects

Sample text

Today the fetus is understood to be 'at risk' for hundreds of anomalies (see, for example, Keeling 1994; Woo 1998), which are described in countless articles and volumes on 'sonopathology' (Nimrod and Ash 1993). Michael Harrison (cited in Kolata 1990:87), one of the leaders of fetal medicine, talks about pathologizing the fetus in this way: 'No one had any idea when we started out what the natural history of a urinary tract obstruction in a fetus was. Or hydrocephalus. All the diseases. I mean, just think about this.

This division of diagnostic responsibility means that technician-sonographers are expected to conduct ultrasound examinations without diagnosing problems. Nonetheless, technicians must be able to assess the fetus's appearance, size, position, development, and behaviour, and must know when it is necessary to call an obstetrician. The 1980s and 1990s: Becoming Standard Practice Amidst Controversy Ultrasound's role in opening the black box of pregnancy has not been without controversy. S. Food and Drug Administration cautioned that 'it is much too early to assume that ultrasound is perfectly safe in pregnancy' (Thompson 1983: 11).

1190) While in this passage Donald and his colleagues were talking about cysts and tumours rather than fetuses, their desire to use ultrasound to see the fetus was evident. As they explained, 'the pregnant uterus offers considerable scope for [ultrasound] because it is a cystic cavity containing a solid foetus' (1192). Donald admitted his surprise at being able to produce an image. At the same time, however, he assumed that ultrasound was capable of providing diagnostic information: all he had to do was improve the technology and learn how to read the images so as to release their diagnostic significance.

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