Actresses live their lives just like anyone else, including getting married and starting families. But for any working woman, sometimes a pregnancy can present some issues, especially if you are the star of a film or a TV show.
Movie actresses have it a little easier in that they can generally work their shooting schedules around a pregnancy since films generally only take, on average, three to five months to make. There are those surprises that pop up (like Gal Gadot being newly pregnant when making Wonder Woman), but for the most part, an actress can maneuver her work around in order to make time to have kids.
TV actresses have it harder because their schedules are pretty packed, with at least 8-10 months of production during the year, depending on the show’s shooting schedule. When an actress finds out she’s expecting, there are a number of ways the producers can move forward. They can either shoot around the baby belly, which means camera angles, large, strategically placed obstacles, and lots of loose clothing – or they can write the character off for a few months
Or the producers of a show decide to incorporate their star’s pregnancies into the storylines, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
Here are 16 Actresses Whose On-Screen Pregnancies Were REAL.
16. JENNA FISCHER ON THE OFFICE
Everyone should agree that Pam and Jim from The Office stand as one of the cutest TV couples of all time. Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski simply nail the chemistry. From the moment we see them getting into shenanigans at work, we are hooked. So when they finally make their romance official with a sweet, unexpected kiss, it’s just one of the show’s very best moments.
Then we get to see the two of them progress in their relationship, from Jim proposing, to getting married, to having kids. Conveniently, when Pam and Jim announce they are having their second child, Fischer was also pregnant with her first child with husband Lee Kirk. No need to use the prosthetic baby belly like they did for Pam’s first pregnancy.
15. ALYSON HANNIGAN IN HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Alyson Hannigan played the feisty Lily Aldrin for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother, delightfully sparring with her onscreen husband, Marshall (Jason Segel), along with close friends like Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor).
With Hannigan’s first pregnancy, the show hid the baby bump with oversized clothing, clever camera angles, and large items to hold in front of herself. The actress’ second pregnancy, however, was far more convenient when the show decided Lily and Marshall should have their own child in season 7, and they ended up having a little bundle of joy named Marvin.
14. LISA KUDROW ON FRIENDS
Friend‘s star Lisa Kudrow luckily got to show off her pregnancy during the show’s fourth season. When she and husband Michel Stern found out they were expecting, Friends decided to write that into the show by having Kudrow’s quirky alter ego, Phoebe Buffay, become a surrogate for her brother and wife. The best part about it is Phoebe finds out she’s carrying triplets.
The show’s costume department did have to give the pregnant Kudrow extra padding to make it look like Phoebe was carrying triplets. Then, after Kudrow delivered her son, Julian (the same night as the fourth season finale aired), the actress had to continue wearing the padding in the fifth season because Phoebe had not given birth quite yet. That’s one way to hide some of that post-baby weight!
13. JULIA ROBERTS IN OCEAN’S TWELVE
This is definitely one of the best parts in the mediocre sequel Ocean’s Twelve. Julia Roberts reprises her role as Tess Ocean, who is now married – again – to her love Danny (George Clooney), and Danny has promised that he has left his years as a conman/thief behind him.
Fat chance. When Danny and his crew find themselves in some hot water while trying to pull off a European heist, Tess, who everyone says looks like Julia Roberts, has to travel there and pretend she’s the actual Julia Roberts as a needed ruse. At the time they were shooting Ocean’s Twelve, Roberts was pregnant with her first child, so, while the actress had to hide her pregnancy as Tess, she got to show it in plain view when she was “acting” like the real Roberts. Nice twist, guys.
12. GILLIAN ANDERSON IN THE X FILES
Could you imagine Gillian Anderson not playing FBI Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files? Well, Anderson was almost replaced due to her pregnancy as the show started up its second season. Apparently, studio execs debated on whether to recast, but creator Chris Carter steadfastly refused to do so and stood by Anderson for the role. We are sure glad he did because it would not have been the same.
They ended up mostly hiding her pregnancy with the usual trickery, but then gave the actress a brief window to show off the baby bump in full view. How? They had Scully abducted by aliens and “experimented” on, including impregnating her. Oh, those pesky aliens. This unique angle to writing a pregnancy into a show actually gave The X-Files it’s most enduring plot line.
11. HAYDEN PANETTIERE IN NASHVILLE
When Nashville star Hayden Panettiere revealed she and fiancé Wladimir Klitschko were expecting their first child in 2014, fans wondered if the show was going to embrace it or try to hide it. It was the latter, so Panettiere’s fiery singer Juliette Barnes soon discovered she, too, was pregnant.
Naturally, this revelation does come with the required consternation on the soap opera show. First of all, Juliette and boyfriend Avery (Jonathan Jackson) have a big blowout breakup. Then, to add more intrigue, Juliette isn’t exactly sure who the baby daddy is: Avery or her sleazy manager, Jeff Fordham (Oliver Hudson). Spoiler alert: the baby is indeed Avery’s.
10. JENNIFER GARNER ON ALIAS
In 2005, Jennifer Garner’s hit TV show Alias was in its later stages when she found out she and husband Ben Affleck were expecting their first child. Rather than try and hide something like that as international spy Sydney Bristow ran around and performed all her cool stunts, the show decided to write in the pregnancy, so Sydney could take it a little easier. “We also don’t want to put her in situations where she’s endangering herself and the baby,” an ABC exec said at the time.
On Alias, the baby daddy was fellow agent Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan). The show also added a younger agent under Sydney’s tutelage who ends up doing a fair amount of the action, to keep up with the tone of the show, while Sydney kicked back. We’re guessing Garner didn’t mind much.
9. SARAH DREW IN GREY’S ANATOMY
When Grey’s Anatomy star Sarah Drew found out she was pregnant with her second child with husband Peter Lanfer in 2014, it seemed only natural that Drew’s character, April Kepner, would also learn she is expecting her first child with husband Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams).
However, the news turns tragic when Jackson and April discover their unborn child has a brittle bone disorder and is not expected to live beyond a few days after birth. April struggles with her faith but makes the decision to have the baby anyway.
Ironically, 10 hours after giving fake birth on the show, Drew went into labor for real and gave birth to her daughter, Hannah. The actress said it brought up many emotions when she watched the episode afterward. We bet!
8. HOLLY MARIE COMBS IN CHARMED
Charmed star Holly Marie Combs was pregnant with her first son at the start of season 6, and producers were trying to figure out how to handle it. At first, they tried to hide it, as if Combs’ character Piper was not pregnant, but the ruse wasn’t really working.
Instead, the show’s creators came up with a very Charmed-like scenario: Piper gets pregnant with her son, Chris, to explain why the adult Chris has returned from the future to protect his older brother, Wyatt, from the evil demons that are plaguing him. There was even a six-month time jump in the middle of the season to help fit in with Combs’ pregnancyg. It’s a little bit of a head-scratcher, but that’s how these type of shows work.
7. MOLLY RINGWALD IN SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER
Ironically, in a show about a teenage girl getting pregnant, it’s her TV mom who also gets pregnant – on the show and in real life! In 2009, Molly Ringwald and husband Panio Gianopoulos revealed they were expecting twins, so the producers wrote it into the show because, you know, Secret Life of the American Teenager is about having unplanned babies.
Ringwald plays the sympathetic but overwhelmed Anne Juergens, who has dealt with her husband’s affair, her mother’s Alzheimer’s and, of course, her 15-year-old daughter’s (Shailene Woodley) pregnancy and birth of her grandson. At the beginning of season 2, Anne discovers she, too, is pregnant with her estranged husband’s baby.
6. EMILY DESCHANEL IN BONES
When Bones returned for season 7, it was revealed that star Emily Deschanel’s alter ego Temperance “Bones” Brennan was pregnant because Deschanel herself was also expecting her first child with husband David Hornsby.
Since Deschanel’s Brennan and her partner, Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), were a couple, having their first child made sense, resulting in Bones giving birth to a gifted daughter (in real life, Deschanel and Hornsby welcomed a son).
Then in 2015, Deschanel became pregnant with her second child, and following right on queue, Bones and Booth also expanded their family with one more. The actress once marveled at the longevity of the show and how it melded with her own life. “I never thought I’d be doing this long enough that I’d be having a child while all of this was happening… or that they’d write that in.”
5. GINNIFER GOODWIN IN ONCE UPON A TIME
Ginnifer Goodwin’s love story with her Once Upon a Time co-star Josh Dallas is just so sweet, particularly because they play Snow White and Prince Charming on the show.
During season 3, Goodwin’s real-life pregnancy was written into the show as Snow and Charming dealt with having another child. The story jumped a year into the future to show off Snow’s (and Goodwin’s) massive baby bump and to pave the way for wicked witch Zelena to be an undercover “nanny.” It was also a chance for Emma to return to Storybrooke and be the savior again. Snow and Charming finally welcome their son, Prince Neal. Goodwin also gave birth to a son off screen.
4. RACHEL BILSON IN HART OF DIXIE
Rachel Bilson and fiance Hayden Christensen announced in 2014 they were having their first child (a girl), which left Hart of Dixie fans wondering how they might handle the pregnancy on the show.
They just wrote that baby in! Dr. Zoe Hart does indeed get pregnant after trying to convince her off-again love interest Wade (Wilson Bethel) that they belonged together. She tries to sway him with sex but only manages to get knocked up in the process. Unfortunately, the show was canceled before fans could find out the baby’s name. At least it left us with feelings about the Zoe-Wade romance.
3. CANDICE KING IN THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Because we are dealing with all manner of supernatural beings on the hit CW show The Vampire Diaries, a real-life pregnancy could open things up to some very interesting possibilities – and cause much gnashing of, er, fangs.
When Candice King, who plays mean-girl-turned-vampire Caroline Forbes, revealed she was pregnant with her first child with musician husband Joe Fray, the show’s producers jumped on a chance to concoct another wild premise to fit the pregnancy into the show.
Basically, vampires can’t get pregnant, but after Alaric’s (Matthew Davis) wife is killed on the altar, the twins she was carrying are magically implanted into Caroline, who carries them to term. Then a surprised Caroline has some ‘splaining to do with boyfriend Stefan (Paul Wesley). Meanwhile, King gave birth to just a regular human daughter.
2. CATERINA SCORSONE IN PRIVATE PRACTICE
As played by Caterina Scorsone, Dr. Amelia Shepherd had a rough go of it on the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Private Practice. Struggling with substance abuse, the neurosurgeon tries her best to get clean but has serious relapses. In one case, she wakes up to find her boyfriend has died of an overdose and later, that she is pregnant.
In real life, Scorsone was expecting a child, so they wrote it into the show. But while Scorsone’s pregnancy had a very happy ending, with her giving birth to a daughter, Eliza, Amelia’s did not. It was discovered her unborn baby had no brain, and after struggling with the decision to abort or not, Amelia decided to carry the baby to term so she could donate the infant’s organs. That’s tough.
1. LUCILLE BALL IN I LOVE LUCY
As one of the most famous onscreen pregnancies, Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy was written into her hugely popular TV series, but it wasn’t smooth going. First of all, they couldn’t use the word “pregnant” because the CBS suits found it too vulgar, but terms like “expecting” were fine.
Ball and her co-star and real-life husband Desi Arnaz played out the scenario over a course of seven episodes, culminating in welcoming Little Ricky into the world, and also amazingly timed to coincide with the birth of Lucy and Desi’s real son, Desi Arnaz Jr.
What made this so historic was the fact Lucy’s pregnancy was not only highlighted, but it was the first time such a subject matter was handled as truthfully – and hilariously – as possible on network television. It was quite groundbreaking for its time and paved the way for future such baby developments for TV actresses to come.
Are there any onscreen pregnancies that were real that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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