Celeb baby bumps may make us swoon, but for pregnant actresses in the middle of filming a movie or television show, those burgeoning bellies can present a bit of a challenge. In cases where a pregnancy can’t be written into a character’s storyline, producers, prop masters, and costume designers look for ways to camouflage growing tummies, whether that’s with creative posing, clever wardrobe choices, or other tricks.
Sometimes a pregnancy is so unavoidable, that the show simply has to cut its season short. For example, in season three of Scandal, the series order was cut from 22 episodes to 18 so star Kerry Washington could have her baby and go on maternity leave. That’s not what the show chose to do when she got pregnant again in season six. They went the bump-hiding route as these 34 other celebrities did. They kept on playing their characters while successfully hiding their own bundles of joy. After all, the show must go on.
While filming Vanity Fair, Reese Witherspoon had her pick of beautiful, billowy, empire-waist gowns in dark colors to hide her growing bump (courtesy of son Deacon). She also had the benefit of lush, low-lit sets that gave her plenty of places to hide her midsection when the camera was on her. Has there ever been a more beautiful way to take attention away from a pregnancy?
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In the John Landis-directed comedy, Burke and Hare, Isla Fisher is wrapped in enough Regency-period layers — gowns, capes, and fur handwarmers to — hide a baby elephant. Not that she really needed them to mask her pregnancy. The actress was only three months along, a fact she kept from her castmates until the movie wrapped.
Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison does not play. That much we know from watching Claire Danes’ CIA character on the Showtime series. But Claire is no slouch when it comes to taking care of business. She worked on the physically demanding show throughout her pregnancy and had producers edit out her pregnant tummy when it became obvious. We’re speechless.
Lots of black clothing and strategically placed iPads and folders were Kate Winslet’s go-to belly concealers on the set of 2014’s Divergent, which she filmed when she was five months pregnant. The dedicated Oscar-winning actress had to be talked out of doing physically demanding stunts, and after giving birth, she reportedly wanted to do additional shots without a stunt double. Go, Kate!
Cobie Smulders & Alyson Hannigan
When both actresses informed How I Met Your Mother producers that they were pregnant during season four, the show opted to hide both pregnancies. But while the show made wink-wink references to Alyson Hannigan’s belly (at one point, she wins an eating contest and shows off her "full belly"), Colbie Smulders’ stayed under wraps behind big shopping bags.
Shapeless scrubs and creative angles helped Ellen get by on the set of Grey’s Anatomy’s season six, but when Ellen Pompeo’s belly became too big to hide, producers had her character, Meredith Grey, donate part of her liver to her father. That allowed Ellen to take time off the show.
20th Century Fox
Remember the skintight suit Halle Berry wears as mutant superhero, Storm? Not usually a problem for the actress with the body of a goddess — until she found out she was three months pregnant as filming on X-Men: The Days of Future Past approached. Good thing a good portion of her scenes were able to be fast-tracked, because she said she quickly started busting out of the suit.
There were plenty of shots of Angela Kinsey’s character sitting in her cubicle as Angela’s real-life pregnancy progressed during season four of The Office. Dunder Mifflin’s resident morality cop wasn’t quite ready to procreate.
Naomi Watts learned she was expecting just two weeks into shooting the Russian-mob thriller Eastern Promises. The news came after she had hopped on a motorcycle and driven through real traffic for a scene (oops!). Her research to prepare for her role as a midwife came in handy just a few months later when she gave birth to her son, Sasha.
Angelina Jolie discovered she was pregnant while filming the emotionally grueling drama, The Changeling, and kept it a secret as she was already near the end of the shoot. Angelina’s role as a grieving mother who loses her son reportedly made her want to become a mom again, despite already having four kids. She got her wish twice over. Months after the film wrapped, she welcomed twins Vivienne and Knox.
The X-Files did everything possible to hide Gillian Anderson’s ballooning midsection — from putting her in enormous coats to placing her behind furniture. But when her belly was just too big at the beginning of season two, the show did what only it could do: They had her abducted by aliens for part of the season.
Dedicated actress Marcia Cross worked right through her surprise twin pregnancy, even when her doctor ordered bedrest. The crew reportedly built a makeshift set in her home, so she could continue shooting. But even before that drastic step, the show worked hard to disguise her double bubble, once positioning Marcia behind a huge gingerbread house for a scene.
Helena Bonham Carter
When you get pregnant after signing on to make a movie, it helps if your director is also your partner. To minimize the effect of Helena Bonham Carter’s growing belly, then-partner Tim Burton fast-tracked the production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to shoot her scenes before it was obvious that she was preggers. Moody lighting did the rest.
Sarah Jessica Parker
A pregnant Sarah Jessica Parker surely had the world’s most fabulous maternity-not-maternity wardrobe during Sex and the City’s fifth season. Conscious that the reigning pop culture fashion goddess could not take a sartorial break, the costume department went all out to conceal SJP’s shape. But her ultimate tool may have been her clout: HBO cut the season in half to give Sarah (and the costume department) a break.
Jill Scott reportedly had trouble conceiving, so when she was finally able to, it was both a blessing and a challenge. While pregnant, Jill was in the middle of shooting The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in Africa, complete with scorching heat, bugs, and 14-hour workdays. At least her roomy, patterned dresses camouflaged her belly, as her character was not pregnant on the series.
Medical shows are truly the best sets in which to hide a celeb pregnancy. You’ve got X-ray film, carts, bulky scrubs, nurses’ station counters, bedridden patients, and a slew of objects to hide under or behind. ER took full advantage of those when concealing Parminder Nagra’s half-moon shape and the results were pretty passable.
Seinfeld just wouldn’t be the same without Elaine. Good thing, then, that her character always wore loose clothing and baggy coats. When Julia Louis-Dreyfus filmed twice while pregnant during production for the classic ’90s sitcom, viewers barely noticed the difference, and her character didn’t miss a beat.
Morena Baccarin figured timing a pregnancy during season two of Showtime’s Homeland wouldn’t be an issue, expecting that she would have a lot less screen time due to perfectly timed plot twists. Her role turned out to be pivotal — not that her belly was really an issue: Her bump was simply deleted in postproduction.
Few women are blessed with Ana Ortiz’s forgiving genes. While shooting Ugly Betty while pregnant, her stick-thin frame filled out just a touch. Some chicks have all the luck!
Some strategically placed crash carts, charts, cabinets, and loose scrubs made life a lot easier for a pregnant Chyler Leigh on Grey’s Anatomy.
In season seven of Grey’s Anatomy, Jessica Capshaw’s character, Arizona, was against having children. So when the actress got pregnant, they couldn’t just write the baby into the show. Instead, the writers sent Arizona on a trip to Africa, and before she left, she wore a lot of baggy sweaters to cover her growing bump.
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On This Is Us, Mandy Moore plays both the younger and older versions of her character Rebecca Pearson. Her pregnancy in 2020 had to be factored into the show, because her grandma character definitely couldn’t be carrying a child. Series creator Dan Fogelman said viewers can expect to see less of old Rebecca and more of a focus on the timeline where Rebecca was pregnant with triplets until Mandy gives birth. Mandy added, "I’m sure you’ll see Rebecca carrying a lot of laundry baskets and oversized purses … for the next few months."
Remember the Mad Men storyline where Betty Draper all of a sudden gained a bunch of weight in season five due to a tumor on her thyroid? That was a clever plot device to hide actress January Jones’ pregnancy. They put her character in a fat suit and all of a sudden her real life pregnancy weight gain could be explained away.
In the final season of Friends, Courteney Cox got pregnant. But because her character, Monica, wasn’t able to have children, the actress’ baby bump had to be strategically hidden under baggy clothes. Courteney later gave birth to her daughter Coco, whom she shares with ex-husband David Arquette.
Unlike her co-star, Lisa Kudrow was able to have her pregnancy written into Friends when she got pregnant during season four. The writers made Phoebe her brother’s surrogate. Phoebe spent the rest of season four preparing for the birth of the triplets as Lisa prepared for her daughter’s actual birth.
In the last season of The Mindy Project, star Mindy Kaling was pregnant with her daughter Katherine — seven months pregnant to be exact. But the series hid her growing baby bump under strategic costumes and by having her character carry bulky things like coats to block her belly. "See if you can tell," Mindy told her followers on Twitter.
when they shot the modern family pilot julie bowen was pregnant with twins so they hide the pregnancy behind laundry baskets pic.twitter.com/b3e1N9JKG1
— olli ☁️ (@claireduphy) November 30, 2020
When she filmed the Modern Family pilot, actress Julie Bowen was just about to give birth to twins. She didn’t think she would get the part because of her pregnancy, but she landed the role, filmed the pilot, and then got to take a break to deliver her babies while she waited for the series to be picked up by ABC. In the first episode, her belly is obscured by pillows and countertops.
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Penelope Cruz’s sister helped out in a big way when the actress found herself pregnant while filming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Mónica Cruz is a Spanish actress who looks so much like her sister Penelope that the director simply cast Monica as Penelope’s stunt double for the trickier scenes that pregnant Penelope couldn’t do. Genius.
Fox Broadcasting Co.
Remember when Jess had jury duty in New Girl‘s fifth season? That was a clever plotline designed to disguise actress Zooey Deschanel’s pregnancy. Megan Fox also stepped in for a time as a guest star to distract from Zooey’s maternity leave absence. Zooey eventually returned for the rest of the show’s seven-season run.
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A five-months pregnant Gal Gadot needed to rely on CGI to fix her baby bump while filming reshoots on Wonder Woman. Entertainment Weekly reported that green fabric was placed on the front of her costume to allow for her belly to be edited out in postproduction. "On close-up I looked very much like Wonder Woman," Gal told the magazine. "On wide shots I looked very funny, like Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog."
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In 2008, Kelly Rutherford got pregnant with her second child, which complicated matters for Gossip Girl. Her character Lily van der Woodsen was not pregnant, so the costume designers had to give the actress bulky coats and big bags to try to cover up her belly. Her bump was pretty noticeable to viewers throughout season two, though.
In season six of Scandal, actress Kerry Washington says it’s easy to see which episodes were filmed while she was pregnant. "You could play a really fun game for the first … five episodes of ‘find the bump,’" she told Good Morning America. She added that the props and costume department hid her belly "behind flowers, behind Prada purses, behind big coats and capes."
Blake Lively’s shark attack movie The Shallows features her almost exclusively in a wetsuit doing all kinds of dangerous stunts, and she filmed the movie while pregnant! "They didn’t hire a stunt double till the last two weeks of shooting," Blake later revealed. "Every single day there wasn’t a single scene that wasn’t stunt-heavy." Pretty impressive work she did there, huh?
Although The Americans co-stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell were together in real life, Keri’s 2016 pregnancy didn’t work with the show’s storyline. So her baby bump had to be covered up in season four — usually with bulky clothing. Matthew told Deadline that when the couple told the writers the news, "They went, ‘You know what, we’re going to stick with what we wrote, and I’m sorry to say, you’ll be wearing big coats and sitting holding laundry.’"
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Emily Blunt has had to hide her pregnancy during two different movies. The first time was for the 2014 film Into the Woods and then she did so again for the 2016 movie The Girl on the Train. Her Into the Woods co-star Meryl Streep later joked that the producers had funny ways of hiding Emily’s bump in that film. "They were constantly putting James Corden in front of her belly, raising her apron higher and higher," Meryl said. Emily also hid behind a lot of trees.