Hiding pregnancy during the first trimester was a feat in itself for me, mostly because I didn’t just have “morning sickness,” I had morning, noon and night sickness for almost five months. Fortunately, after I entered the second trimester of my pregnancy I was able to confidently tell the world that I was pregnant and no longer pretend the sea sickness pressure point bracelets I was wearing were a new haute couture trend or that my growing belly was the result of an unfortunate beer belly.
Working actors, particularly those with ongoing roles on television, need to present themselves as the character that we’ve all grown to love over of the years, not themselves the actor, for long periods of time. This means that a pregnancy for the leading lady on that prime time show often needs to be hidden, as best it can be, from the audience.
As a belly gets bigger wardrobe and plot line writers need to get a little creative to make sure that the actor still gets the screen time required, but their belly isn’t extremely obvious or stealing the scene. Some shows have managed the art of baby belly camouflage a lot better than others.
Here’s 10 ways some of your favorite shows attempted to hide a cast member’s pregnancy.
15How I Met Your Mother – Lily Aldrin
The first time that Alyson Hannigan was pregnant while playing Lily Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother she was shot seated in their mainstay booth, hidden by another cast members at their favorite bar, Maclaren’s, carrying gigantic purses, and bowling balls to block the baby bump.
However, for one episode they decided to embrace the belly, in season four, after winning a hot dog eating contest, Hannigan is shown revealing her bloated hot dog filled baby belly for all to see. The second time Hannigan was pregnant, the timing was perfect, so was her character Lily, there was no need for creative accessorizing.
14Homeland – Carrie Mathison & Jessica Brody
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On the set of Homeland pregnancy of cast members isn’t just disguised, it’s completely hidden using body doubles, clever camera angles, and technology.
The show has used advanced technology to edit out two pregnancies of core cast members Claire Danes (season two) and Morena Baccarin (season three) to keep the plot line driving on as intended without missing a beat.
13Frasier – Daphne Moon
If you’re not caught up on your Frasier plot lines, don’t read about this, but seriously catch up on your binge watching, the show’s been off the air for 12 years now. In the end of season seven, Niles finally confesses his love to Daphne which ultimately leads to her leaving her fiancée Donny at the altar and everyone cheering because Niles finally got the girl.
Writers on Frasier didn’t attempt to completely mask Daphne’s pregnancy, they simply wrote in how her guilt over leaving Donny causes her to overeat and binge on junk food to the tune of a 60 pound weight gain. Niles is so in love with Daphne he’s the only one who doesn’t notice until she falls down and he needs the help of both his father and brother to get her off the floor.
During a future episode, where actor Jane Leeves (Daphne) does not appear because she’s at a weight loss program, it’s mentioned that she’s already lost 9 pounds, 12 ounces, the weight of her baby. Leeves’ second pregnancy was written into the plot of the show.
12Mad Men – Betty Draper Francis
The writers on Mad Men must have taken a page from the writers at Frasier, when January Jones was eight months pregnant at the beginning of the show’s fifth season. Since it didn’t make sense to write in the pregnancy for the character they also had Betty Draper suddenly gain a lot of weight, which meant up to seven hours of prosthetics and makeup to make the weight gain look real, and not like pregnancy.
January Jones was able to ease her way back into her pre-pregnancy shape when Betty joins Weight Watchers and slowly begins to lose the weight Betty had suddenly gained.
1130 Rock – Jenna Maroney
The creators of 30 Rock decided that vapidly, self-absorbed character Jenna Maroney should not be a mom, so they decided to write star Jane Krakowski’s pregnancy into the show care of a dog suit and some extra weight the character gained because she had to consume 32 pieces of pizza each week when she was starring in the fictional Broadway Play, Mystic Pizza, The Musical.
In 2011 the show began filming mid-season to accommodate Tina Fey’s pregnancy without having to hide Liz Lemon behind giant bags of Sabor de Soledad Cheese Puffs (translating to Taste of Loneliness from Spanish).
10Seinfeld – Elaine Benes
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In both season three and eight of Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was pregnant, yet character Elaine Benes was not. The actor has recently recounted Jerry Seinfeld suggesting that they write in a plot point with the character Elaine getting really fat, and Louis-Dreyfus, then five months pregnant, burst into tears.
Instead of writing in weight gain as a cause for a change in appearance, the pregnancy was hidden behind giant laundry baskets, presents, counters and big 1990’s styled coats. Today Julia Louis-Dreyfus admits that they probably should have just gone with the weight gain angle instead.
9Sex and the City – Carrie Bradshaw
On season five of Sex and the City wardrobe staff coped with hiding SJP’s pregnancy in a way that Carrie Bradshaw herself would approve of, through fashion and style. The team put Carrie in a series of baby-doll and empire-waist dresses throughout the entire season.
When that wasn’t enough they added a couple of carefully placed handbags and umbrellas to cover-up the starlet’s growing baby belly. Season five was also a short season for Sex and the City with only eight episodes, allowing for SJP to give birth.
8Friends – Monica Geller Bing & Phoebe Buffay
When Lisa Kudrow announced her pregnancy the show decided to go with it and formulated a plot line involving Phoebe being a surrogate mother of triplets for her brother and his wife. Since the mother-to-be was pregnant with a singleton, costumers had to pad her costume to make it appear as if she was really having triplets.
In the final season of filming the series Friends Courtney Cox was pregnant with her daughter Coco. The producers would have gladly written in the pregnancy for Cox, but unfortunately a major plot point for the series hinged on Monica and Chandler’s inability to have children. Instead Monica can be seen sporting giant scarves and baggy clothes for the majority of the final season of the show.
7New Girl – Jessica Day
When star of New Girl, Zooey Deschanel announced her pregnancy everyone on the show expressed their well wishes for the exciting news, along with a firm statement that character Jessica Day would not be pregnant for the upcoming season of the show. Instead producers filmed the first few episodes of season five immediately after wrapping season four in a gruelling production schedule.
To hide her belly they had character Jess sustain a leg injury and use a scooter to hide her expanding waistline. How did they explain Jess’s several episode absence during season five so Deschanel could have some maternity leave? They sent Jessica Day into to sequestered jury duty and had Megan Fox step in as a new roommate for a few episodes.
6Brooklyn 99 – Amy Santiago
In season three of Brooklyn 99 actor Melissa Fumero’s real-life pregnancy was not written in. At first the show tried to mask her pregnancy using the standard tricks of well-placed file folders, time spent hiding behind desks and bulky clothes, then they got a whole lot more creative.
As the season progressed they had the team participate in a team building exercise where everyone was wearing giant Sumo Wrestler suits, Fumero included. At the very end of the season character Amy Santiago was sent under-cover as a very pregnant woman, complete with prosthetic (not really prosthetic) baby belly.
5The X Files - Dana Scully
Gillian Anderson was very pregnant by the time The X Files began its second season. There was a debate among studio executives as to whether or not she could presume her role or whether they should recast.
They decided to keep Anderson on the show and hid her baby belly using clever camera angles and other typical costuming techniques. They also had the character, Agent Dana Scully, abducted by aliens, allowing for her to have a single episode maternity leave.
In season five character Scully learns that she had a child during her abduction, which is actually true!
4Breaking Bad - Mary Schrader
In the early seasons of Breaking Bad Skyler White was the pregnant character, whereas in real life cast member Betsy Brandt, who played Skyler’s sister Marie Schrader, was actually the one hiding the real baby bump.
They carefully hid her belly so viewers wouldn’t notice Brandt was pregnant, except when they used her belly as a double for Skyler. As Brandt got further into her pregnancy they would use her belly for close up shots, pretending that it was Skyler’s.
3The Cosby Show - Clair Huxtable
The Cosby Show was supposed to be about a family with older kids, not one with infants, so when Phylicia Rashad found out that she was pregnant during season three of the show they took serious steps to hide her pregnancy.
They sent the character away to a conference in Washington DC, and at one point had her seated on the living room couch with a giant teddy bear in front of her, with no real explanation given for the bear as living room decor.
The show even shot episodes where character Clair was filmed in bed with a specialty mattress that was hollowed out so her growing belly wouldn’t show through the covers. Unfortunately the “special” bed resulted in a pinched nerve in Rashad’s back.
2Desperate Housewives - Bree Van de Kamp
When Marcia Cross was pregnant with her twins, Eden and Savannah, they sort of wrote it into the script of Desperate Housewives, but as a fake pregnancy. After Danielle finds herself pregnant with Edie’s nephew Austin’s baby she is sent away so no one in the neighborhood will know that she is expecting.
At the same time Bree, played by Marcia Cross, and her husband Orson decide to fabricate a pregnancy so that when Danielle’s baby is born they can raise it as their own.
1Parks and Recreation - Leslie Knope
Ignorance really was bliss on the sets of Parks and Recreation when Amy Poehler announced her second pregnancy during the second half of the second season of the show. They simply ignored Poehler’s growing midsection and they began production of episodes for season three immediately following season two.
This allowed them to bank episodes for the third season before the pregnancy became too hard to hide, and to give Poehler a maternity leave.
In Poehler’s book ,Yes Please, she says, “If you have any doubt as to what a great actor Adam Scott is, go back and watch him join a show and immediately figure out how to flirt with a tired pregnant lady. It’s not easy. If I have learned anything from hip-hop, it’s that there’s nothing sexy about a baby that ain’t yours.”
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