Our “Baby” on YouTube: The Gendered Life Stories of the Unborn


  • Agnès Pélage ENSAE-Institut Polytechnique de Paris/PRINTEMPS (UVSQ)



life writing, YouTube, foetus, ultrasounds, embodiment, gender, parenting


This study concerns the usage of foetal ultrasounds, more specifically those produced during the 5th month of pregnancy within the routine checks of any pregnancy in France. Interestingly, more and more parents are posting short films on YouTube of their baby-to-be using the medical images produced during such antenatal examinations. This study therefore analyses a set of 108 YouTube posts among the thousands available to understand the social implications of such posts on the unborn. Uncannily, it appears that these videos constitute not only the first pages of the biographies of a girl or a boy but also the autobiographical tales of a mother or father waiting for the birth of a daughter or son. The close reading of 31 archetypical videos reveals how those who post such videos see 5th-month ultrasound imagery as a means for them to prepare, not just for the birth of a child, but for the birth of a girl or a boy and simultaneously to prepare to become, not just parents, but the father or mother of a son or a daughter.

Author Biography

Agnès Pélage, ENSAE-Institut Polytechnique de Paris/PRINTEMPS (UVSQ)

Agnès Pélage is a Senior lecturer in Sociology currently working at the ENSAE (The French Grande École for Economics, Data Science and Finance). A sociologist of Education and Family, she is affiliated to the research centre of social sciences, PRINTEMPS, university of Versailles-Saint-Quentin en Yvelines/paris Saclay.