Eva Sänger: Matter of Time: Making up Babies in Obstetrical Ultrasound Scanning in Germany

In prenatal care gestational time frames are used to monitor pregnancy and birth. Obstetrical ultrasound scanning, a routine part of prenatal care in Germany, has brought about profound reorganization of time during pregnancy and created new norms and imperatives for pregnant women as well as for health professionals: diagnostic options and potential medical interventions vary with regard to the ‘development’ of a fetus and thus gestational ‘age’ of pregnancy. However, fetal ‘development’ is not a pre-given property. In my paper, taking a relationalist-materialist approach to the production of fetal and pregnant subjectivities, I will show how the development of a fetus is produced not as abstract knowledge but rather materially enacted during obstetric ultrasound examinations. Using ethnographic data, I explore how the notion of ‘development’ is the result of temporal practices, enacted through gestures, talks, biometric measurement and computer software. Moreover, the ‘making’ of gestational time is intertwined with the attribution of risk to the fetus as well as with the practice of performing family. I examine the ways in which temporal practices contribute to the enactment of the fetus as a measurable entity and as a baby-to-be that can be woven in a network of kinship relations.