While it’s true that women are a force to be reckoned with in the workplace, being diligent, driven, and intelligent; it’s also true that there’s one thing about women that can hamper her performance or schedule on the job: getting pregnant. For most of the twentieth century and even today, women have struggled with gaining equality in the work place. Employers sometimes balk at hiring women because when they get pregnant, it means having to deal with their pregnancies, not to mention losing them to maternity leave for months at a time.
Nowhere is a pregnancy more tricky than for an actress working in Hollywood, especially one who’s in the thick of a project. The show or movie’s producers have to wrack their brains and decide if they want to display their star’s pregnancy by writing it into the story line; or hide it as best as they can. These actresses were made to hide their growing bellies while they were filming their TV shows. Some attempts were quite clever, but other producers were unsuccessful in their efforts and the actress’ pregnancies were still glaringly obvious onscreen.
14 Ana Ortiz
She’s best known as Betty Suarez’s older, hotter, and definitely ditzy sister Hilda in the comedy TV show Ugly Betty. Ana Ortiz is married to musician Noah Lebenzon, by whom she has two children, the first of who was conceived and carried to term while she was still part of the TV show. But the show’s producers and writers didn’t think giving Hilda another baby was the way to go. So the show’s costume designers gave Ortiz loose-fitting clothes and the cameramen ensured cameras were angled strategically to hide her growing bump, according to TV Guide.
13 Debra Messing
Best known as the quirky Grace Adler in the TV sitcom Will and Grace, Debra Messing has been riding on the now-defunct show’s success ever since it catapulted her to fame. After all, it’s given her multiple awards for her portrayal of the quirky but lovable gal with a gay roommate slash best friend. While filming the sixth season, Messing was pregnant, but her character wasn’t. Producers attempted to hide her pregnancy by making her wear loose tops and not filming her below the waist, but Messing’s pregnancy was still quite obvious because her face seemed much fuller than her usual skinny appearance.
12 Julia Louis-Dreyfus
She has always loved to act and the awards she has tucked under her belt are proof that she’s not only passionate about it; she’s amazing at her craft too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is known for her award-winning roles in comedy TV shows such as Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Veep. She was pregnant with her first child when filming the third season of Seinfeld, as reported by Ok! Magazine. Producers covered up her pregnancy by having her hide behind furniture and hold pillows on her lap over her stomach.
11 Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders
It’s difficult enough to hide the pregnancy of one star, but dealing with two stars’ delicate condition at the same time can prove to be a headache for the show’s producers. It just so happened that the leading ladies of the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother fell pregnant at the same time when the fifth season was in production. Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders were only weeks apart in terms of pregnancy progress, so for the majority of the episodes of that season, they both had to carry big bags, hold giant objects in front of them, or have the camera avoid filming them from the waist down.
10 Julie Bowen
She brings laughs to our small screens every week as part of the cast of one of the funniest TV shows in recent history. Julie Bowen is certainly a major part of why Modern Family is such a hit, as she portrays her character Claire Dunphy with much aplomb. Many may not remember, but Bowen was actually visibly pregnant when the pilot of the show aired, though producers tried hard to hide her belly behind cereal boxes and laundry baskets, according to Ok! Magazine.
9 Kelly Rutherford
Even though her TV show Gossip Girl ended three years ago, Kelly Rutherford continues to be in the spotlight, but not in the most flattering of ways. She’s currently embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband for their two children. She was in the process of divorcing her husband while pregnant with her second child during the filming of Gossip Girl season 2, but producers thought it would be out of character for Lily Van der Woodsen (her character) to have a baby. So as reported by Ok! Magazine and Pop Sugar, the show’s producers covered up Rutherford’s pregnancy with loose dresses, thick coats, and scarves—all designer labels, as befitting her character’s status, of course.
8 Sarah Jessica Parker
While she was filming her hit TV show Sex and The City’s fifth season, Sarah Jessica Parker discovered that she was pregnant with her and husband Matthew Broderick’s first child. The producers and Parker herself discussed if her character Carrie Bradshaw should have a baby and decided against it. So according to TV Guide and Pop Sugar, producers shortened the fifth season to only 13 episodes to make way for Parker’s pending delivery. While she was filming, costume designers hid her belly with fashionably loose flowy tops and dresses that befitted Carrie’s sense of style.
7 Claire Danes
She got her start in Hollywood with a bang, appearing as Angela Chase in the TV series My So-Called Life when she was only 15 and taking home her first of four Golden Globe Awards. Claire Danes has certainly had a lucrative career for someone who started so young and fans were thrilled when she married British cutie Hugh Dancy. Danes found out she was pregnant while she was about to start filming the second season of her hit TV drama show Homeland. According to Ok! Magazine, her pregnant belly was CGI’ed out of her full body shots.
6 Courteney Cox
Much like her character Monica Geller in Friends, Courteney Cox was having struggles to conceive with her then-husband David Arquette. Cox even suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage at one point. The couple finally got pregnant with their daughter Coco while Cox was filming the final season of the show. But since Monica had fertility issues, the show’s producers couldn’t work Cox’s pregnancy into the storyline. Instead, they hid Cox’s bump under baggy clothing and long scarves, as reported by Ok! Magazine.
5 Ellen Pompeo
She has received many accolades for the role she is most known for in the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy, where she plays the lead character Dr. Meredith Grey. Dr. Grey may have lost her husband Dr. Derek Shepherd onn the show, but in real life, Ellen Pompeo is happily married with two children. According to Ok! Magazine and Pop Sugar, she was pregnant with her first child during filming of the show’s sixth season, so producers hid the pregnancy by having Pompeo wear oversized scrub suits and had her character donate a liver so that many of her scenes had her lying on a hospital bed covered in blankets.
4 Kerry Washington
It’s but fitting that Kerry Washington is related to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as she now plays a role of a powerful crisis management expert to politicians in the hit TV drama Scandal. Her character Olivia Pope is a high-powered career girl with no time for starting a family, so producers had to hide Washington’s pregnancy during season 3. According to OK! Magazine and Pop Sugar, she was made to sit behind desks, hold folders and notebooks to her chest and stomach, and have as many close-ups as possible, so as not to reveal her bump.
3 Cynthia Nixon
When her character Miranda Hobbes in the hit TV show Sex and The City became pregnant, many thought that Cynthia Nixon, who played Miranda, was also expecting in real life. But a lot may be surprised to know that that wasn’t the case. According to More magazine, Nixon actually became pregnant after her character had already given birth. Producers just had her pass off her growing belly and increasing weight gain as Miranda’s post-pregnancy weight. The rest of the season had Miranda struggling to lose the baby weight, while Nixon’s belly continued to grow.
2 Gillian Anderson
Fans of the hit TV supernatural drama The X-Files are beside themselves with excitement at the fact that the cast has come back together to film all-new episodes more than a decade after the show concluded. Many may not remember or even have noticed that Gillian Anderson was actually pregnant while she was filming the first season. In the episode entitled Ascension, her pregnant belly was on full display, as the show’s producers decided to have the actress’ character Dana Scully subjected to peculiar experiments, which resulted in the bloated stomach.
1 January Jones
Till today, the public still has no knowledge of the true father of January Jones’ son Xander. Many assume it was a married man, hence the big secret. But one thing’s for sure, the media and her fans were taken by surprise when she announced her pregnancy in the midst of filming season 5 of the hit TV drama Mad Men. Rather than do the usual covering-of-the-baby-bump with strategic camera angles and loose clothing, the show’s producers decided to make Jones’ character Betty Draper fat! According to OK! Magazine and Pop Sugar, she even had to don a fat suit.