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Sociological Perspectives

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Although doctors still frequently call out “It’s a girl!” when a baby girl is born, the majority of mothers now use ultrasound to find out the sex months earlier. This study examines how women who learn the sex of their fetus before birth are engaging in gendered verbal interactions throughout pregnancy. These include types of conversations, usage of gendered pronouns, and calling the unborn baby by a given name. These changes in behaviors by pregnant woman once fetal sex is known can be seen as a form of anticipatory socialization, as they begin to practice the behaviors and values associated with the role of being either a mother of a son or mother of a daughter. Findings also discuss general differences between mothers who choose to find out fetal sex and those who choose not to. The research is based on in-depth interviews with middle-class mothers in the United States.