When a leading actress on the show is unexpectedly pregnant, it can be a challenge for the showrunners. While fans are thrilled to hear that the actress playing their favorite character is pregnant in real life, they can’t help but wonder what will happen to her character—will she also be pregnant or not?
The showrunners have to either incorporate the actress’ real-life pregnancy into the storyline or hide her baby bump. Whatever they decide on can either make or break the show, which puts more pressure on them.
It’s pretty amazing when art imitates life. Jenna Fischer didn’t have to hide her baby bump behind something or someone for her role as Pam in The Office, because the actress’ real-life pregnancy synced with the character’s second pregnancy. Real baby bumps can make the story more real.
An actress sometimes has to wear a faux baby bump because of her pregnant character or use props to disguise her pregnancy because her character isn’t ready for a baby yet or can’t conceive.
That said, here’s a list of beautiful, talented celebrities whose on-screen pregnancies mirrored their real-life pregnancies, plus those who had to hide their bun in the oven in creative ways for various reasons.
10 Celebs Who Rocked A Real Baby Bump On Screen
20 Alyson Hannigan Didn't Have To Hide Her Real Bump Because Lily Was Already Expecting
Alyson Hannigan was pregnant twice while playing Lily in How I Met Your Mother. The producers of the show tried to hide her first pregnancy behind big purses, bowling balls, and other objects because her character wasn't ready for kids yet.
However, Alyson's real baby bump appeared on-screen when Lily showed off her "food baby" after a hot dog eating contest in season four.
When Alyson was pregnant with baby #2, the producers were thrilled—the timing was perfect because Lily was already expecting in season seven. It's interesting to note that the actress still had to wear pregnant pads since the character was further along than her.
19 Jenna Fischer's 1st Pregnancy Happened When Pam & Jim Were Expecting Their 2nd Child
When Pam and Jim in The Office were expecting their first child, Jenna Fischer had to wear a faux baby bump, but she didn’t have to for her character’s second pregnancy, because the actress was actually pregnant! Jenna shared with Vulture, "Pam and Jim snuck away last season on Valentine’s Day… The story is that they conceived this baby at that time.” She told the magazine, “When we started shooting that [Valentine’s Day] episode, I thought to myself, If everything goes well, this is going to be a very, very convenient coincidence. And I think I found out I was pregnant when we were shooting that episode.”
18 Lisa Kudrow Gave Birth To One Child, But Phoebe In Friends Had Triplets
Friends didn’t originally plan on writing about Phoebe’s pregnancy, but they decided to roll with it after Lisa Kudrow announced that she was with child.
The hit TV show revealed that Phoebe was pregnant in season four, but they didn’t think she was ready to have a baby of her own.
So they made her the surrogate mother for her half-brother Frank and his wife Alex. Since Lisa's real baby bump wasn't big enough to be carrying triplets because she was pregnant with only one child, the costume department made the actress wear extra pads under her clothes to make her baby bump look huge.
17 Hayden Panettiere Was Happily Pregnant—Juliette In Nashville Had Baby Daddy Drama
After it was revealed that Hayden Panettiere was pregnant, the show decided to make her character in Nashville pregnant as well but added baby daddy drama, too. While Hayden was happily engaged to her then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko, Juliette didn’t know who the father of her on-screen baby was. The actress had to hide her growing baby bump since she was further along than her character, but once they synced, she didn’t have to anymore. Moreover, Juliette struggled with PPD like Hayden. According to People, the storyline was written in the show before the actress openly talked about PPD.
16 Candice King's 'Vampire Diaries' Character Somehow Carried Alaric's Twins
A pregnant vampire? When Candice King announced that she was expecting, The Vampire Diaries decided to make Caroline pregnant, too. But instead of carrying her boyfriend Stefan Salvatore’s baby, Caroline had the twins of her former teacher Alaric and his fiancée (who passed) magically placed in her womb.
The show had been wanting to add a pregnancy story like this one for a while.
The executive producer Caroline Dries told Access Hollywood, "The trick was just figuring out how a vampire could get pregnant. Once we figured it out, it was like, 'Oh my God!' Everything just fell into place.’” It seems like Candice got pregnant at the right time.
15 Julia Roberts Played Tess In Ocean’s Twelve Who Pretended To Be The Pregnant Actress
Julia Roberts reprised her role for Ocean’s Twelve as the wife of a con man Danny Ocean (George Clooney). The most interesting part of the film probably was when Julia had to play herself. Her character impersonated the pregnant actress during a heist. While Tess might’ve had to wear a fake baby bump, Julia didn't have to since she was pregnant with twins in real life. Another funny scene is when Matt Damon’s character tells Tess, “Just protect your fake baby!” while she’s trying to move through the crowd of her fans. It was a clever way to write the actress’ pregnancy into the storyline.
14 Ginnifer Goodwin Had A Bun In The Oven, And So Did Snow White In Once Upon A Time
Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas started dating in 2012 after they met on the set of Once Upon A Time where they played Snow White and Prince Charming. When the actress announced her first pregnancy with Josh, the show opted against hiding her growing baby bump.
Instead, the showrunners of Once Upon A Time thought it was finally time for Snow White and Prince Charming to have a child together.
In season three of the show, they welcomed a son and named him Neal. Shortly after Ginnifer wed her real-life Prince Charming, she also gave birth to a son, and the couple named him Oliver. Her second pregnancy, however, was disguised.
13 Sarah Drew & April In Grey's Anatomy Have Gone Through Pregnancy Complications
When Sarah Drew was expecting her second child, the showrunners of Grey’s Anatomy incorporated the actress’ pregnancy into the storyline, making her character pregnant, too. Both women have gone through pregnancy complications. In Grey's Anatomy, April and Jesse’s first child was born with a brittle bone disorder and was able to live for only a few days. Ten hours after Sarah fake delivered on the show, she gave birth to her daughter prematurely. She told Access Hollywood Live, “She had a lung infection and so she had to be put on antibiotics. She was in the NICU for 11 days, which was really hard.” Fortunately, her daughter is doing well.
12 Melissa Fumero's Character In Brooklyn Nine-Nine Went Undercover As A “Pregnant” Inmate
Although Melissa Fumero’s character in Brooklyn Nine-Nine wasn’t pregnant, the actress didn’t have to hide her real baby bump behind someone or something. The writers and the producers decided to make Amy go undercover in a women’s prison as a fake pregnant inmate.
Melissa confessed that it was hard to film while being nine months pregnant.
She told People magazine, “My ankles would get really swollen.” She added, “[Enzo] was born, like, five days after we wrapped. I don’t recommend it.” This past April, a fan posted a photo of pregnant Amy, and Melissa tweeted, "Pretending to be soooo pregnant while actually being sooooo pregnant."
11 Jennifer Garner's Character Had A Baby With Her Real-Life Ex-BF, Michael Vartan
When it was revealed that Jennifer Garner was pregnant, Alias fans wondered what would happen to her character, Sydney, who’s an international spy. According to People, ABC chief Stephen McPherson said, “We are going to embrace the fact that (Sydney is) pregnant.” Jennifer continued to do some stunts on the show, but once her baby bump got bigger, she stopped. Stephen added, “We also don’t want to put her in situations where she’s endangering herself and the baby.” Here’s an interesting note: while Jennifer was expecting her first child with her then-husband Ben Affleck, her character in Alias was pregnant with the actress’ real-life ex-bf, Michael Vartan.
10 That Tried To Hide It
10 Courteney Cox Had To Hide Her Baby Bump Because Monica In Friends Couldn't Conceive
Lisa Kudrow’s real-life pregnancy was written into the storyline for Phoebe in Friends, but the same couldn’t be done for Courteney Cox and her character, Monica. Friends revealed that Monica and her husband Chandler were planning on adopting twins because they both couldn't have kids naturally.
So when Courteney was four months pregnant with her then-husband David Arquette while filming last season of the hit TV show, the costume department had to think of creative ways to hide her growing baby bump.
They made Monica wear loose-fitting clothes, layers of clothing, and different scarves to cover up the actress' pregnancy. It was still obvious that Courteney was expecting, though.
9 January Jones's Real-Life Pregnancy Wasn't Written Into The Story For Betty In Mad Men
When January Jones announced her first pregnancy, creator of Mad Men, Matt Weiner, didn’t want to make her character pregnant or use props to hide the actress’ baby bump. Matt instead made January wear a prosthetic suit because Betty Davis in Mad Men unexpectedly gained a new figure due to a thyroid condition. The actress revealed (via Evening Standard), “When we started filming, I was quite pregnant and had to come into work at 3 am each day for six or seven hours of prosthetic makeup." She added, “I was very afraid of how that first episode would look when it aired, but I loved the audience response to her.”
8 SJP & Carrie In SATC Have The Same Fashion Sense (But Not The Baby Bump)
In 2002, Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick were expecting their first child while Sarah was filming season five of Sex and the City. The unexpected pregnancy got the show to stop filming because the writers and the producers had to decide whether or not to incorporate the actress' pregnancy into the storyline of her character Carrie Bradshaw's life
They decided not to do it, so Sarah had to wear loose tops and flowy dresses to hide her baby bump.
She still looked fabulous. Also, season five was shortened from 18 episodes to 8 so that Sarah could relax and give birth to her son.
7 Kerry Washington Used Many Props To Hide Her Growing Belly While Playing Olivia Pope
Kerry Washington was pregnant twice while playing Olivia Pope in Scandal, and neither of them was written into her character's storyline. Shonda Rhimes and her team instead used many props to hide Kerry's first pregnancy on-screen by making her stand behind lamps or hold a pillow. Kerry told ET, "Our crew is so lovable and they make it work. Whether I'm hiding behind Tony [Goldwyn's] leg, it's great. It's so fun.” Kerry later told Michael Strahan in Good Morning America that she hid "behind flowers, behind Prada purses, behind big coats and capes” during her second pregnancy. Her growing belly was still noticeable both times.
6 'Homeland' Used CGI To Edit Claire Danes' Baby Bump
Claire Danes revealed on Anderson Live that she was able to disguise her baby bump early on.
But the show had to use CGI to edit the baby bump when it got bigger because Carrie in Homeland wasn't pregnant.
The actress told The Hollywood Reporter that it was hard filming while being pregnant, "I was pregnant for the second season of Homeland, and as my baby progressed, the show got more action-packed. At one point, we were shooting in an old sewage factory... I was chained to a pipe, it was 4 a.m., I was 7½ months pregnant, and I was like, 'This sucks.’”
5 Zooey Deschanel Might've Been Ready To Have A Baby, But Not Jess In New Girl
While Zooey Deschanel got pregnant with her second child, Jess in New Girl wasn’t ready to have a baby. After Jess fell down the stairs in season five, she rode the scooter and pretty much stayed in bed. New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether told The Hollywood Reporter, “Zooey was so game to keep shooting, and we did try to make it fun for her. I think the scooter is a little bit of a wink to that. You would think that we could come up with a better way of doing it, but she's still hiding behind plants.” Megan Fox replaced Jess while Zooey went on maternity leave.
4 Amy Poehler's Pregnancy Made Leslie In Parks And Recreation Stand Behind Things
The writers and the producers of Parks and Recreation decided not to add pregnancy for Leslie Knope when Amy Poehler was expecting her second child.
So the actress had to stand behind someone or something to hide her growing baby bump.
She told Fancast (via Digital Spy) that it was actually easy to disguise her pregnancy; she said, “We have just been kind of lucky in the past couple of episodes. Frankly, it's a combination of good camera work and a good wardrobe department." Executive producer Greg Daniels joked, "As we get closer [to her due date], Aziz [Ansari] will be constantly standing in front of her."
3 Jane Krakowski Dressed Up In As A Dog Because Jenna In 30 Rock Wasn't Preggo
Jane Krakowski had to hide her baby bump on-screen because her real-life pregnancy wasn’t written into her character’s storyline in 30 Rock. Tina Fey and executive producer Robert Carlock told EW, “No child should have Jenna Maroney for a mother.” Jane told E!’s Ryan Seacrest at the 2011 Golden Globes, “No one thinks Jenna would be a fit mother.” Tina added, “Her character would be the worst mother in the world. I think the state would come to the show and take her fake baby away.” Many actresses use props or wear loose-fitting clothes to cover their pregnancy, but Jane was spotted in an adorable dog costume.
2 Debra Messing's Character In Will & Grace Used Towels To Disguise The Actress' Pregnancy
It's not uncommon for a leading actress on the show to get unexpectedly pregnant. Debra Messing was expecting her first child while filming season six of Will & Grace in 2003.
But the showrunners didn't want her character to be pregnant, so Debra had to hide her baby bump with towels and pillows.
They also tried to disguise her pregnancy with camera angles. It was still pretty obvious especially when Grace, a stylish thin woman who liked to wear tight-fitting clothing started to wear loose clothes. When Debra was eight months pregnant, she didn’t appear in the last four episodes of the season due to giving birth.
1 Kelly Rutherford Tried To Hide Her Baby Bump With Designer Bags For Her Role In Gossip Girl
Kelly Rutherford, known for her role as the mother of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) in Gossip Girls, got pregnant with her second child with her then-husband, Daniel Giersch, a German businessman. The writers of the show didn’t see fit that Lily van der Woodsen should also be pregnant, so they tried to hide Kelly’s growing baby bump in season two of Gossip Girls. Although Kelly was carrying a child, it didn’t stop Lily from continuing to live the socialite life—she still wore chic outfits and used designer bags to cover her baby bump. The clever camera angles also helped disguise the actress' pregnancy.
Sources: People, ET Online, Hollywood Reporter, Vulture