17 Times TV Shows Hid A Star's Real-Life Pregnancy

Photo: HBO/Photofest.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
You don't need us to tell you how babies are born. But if you're wondering why so many female TV stars have spent a good chunk of their careers wandering around the set with laundry baskets, super-sized Birkins, and large grocery sacks, we've got your answer.
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Sometimes, kids, an actress becomes pregnant, and the writers on her show aren't ready to have the character she plays follow suit. Blame it on timing, or character development. Imagine Seinfeld's Elaine Benes having Kramer babysit her kid, or Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw procreating with Big right when he'd moved to Napa — and just after Miranda had gone through her own major pregnancy storyline.
When showrunners don't want to add a kid into the mix, they have a few options. They can adjust shooting dates. They can go the Mad Men and Frasier route and make a character pile on the pounds. They can shoot from the neck up, stock up on empire-waist tops and baggy overcoats, and let the stunt doubles work overtime. Or they can just plop the mama-to-be behind a big desk and give her something large to carry.
Lucy Ricardo, Clair Huxtable, Grace Adler, Dana Scully, Betty Draper, and Olivia Pope are just a few of the beloved TV characters who were definitely not pregnant — at the time — even though the women who portrayed them were. Can you tell?
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Video: Courtesy of HBO.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City

Ever wonder why Carrie Bradshaw suddenly started wearing so many blousy dresses and supersize handbags in season 5? Parker's real-life pregnancy with son James in 2002 caused the character to opt for some clever cover-ups. The season was also reduced to just eight episodes to allow the actress some much-needed maternity leave. Bradshaw, meanwhile, remains happily child-free.
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Video: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution.
Jane Leeves, Frasier

Leeves' first pregnancy — she gave birth to daughter Isabella in 2001 — during the sitcom's eight season came at a time when her character, Daphne Moon, had finally run off with Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce). When even giant pashmina shawls proved insufficient, showrunners came up with a storyline in which Daphne gained weight as a reaction to her new relationship. The housekeeper became the butt of many a fat joke before being banished to weight loss camp. Leeves' second pregnancy, however, was written into the show. Fun fact: Both her children have Frasier costars as godparents.
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Video: Courtesy of ABC.
Kerry Washington, Scandal

Two pregnancies you don't want in the script? It's handled! The third and sixth seasons of Scandal were shortened to accommodate Washington's pregnancies, while the actress herself was filmed from basically the neck up.
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Video: Courtesy of Fox.
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl

New Girl literally brought in a new new girl (guest star Megan Fox) in season 5 to fill in for Deschanel during her first maternity leave, sending Jess Day off on one seriously intense and drawn-out jury duty. Deschanel pre-taped her scenes before giving birth to daughter Elsie in 2015. She also relied on camera angles and body doubles — note this stairwell fall — while filming during her second pregnancy in season 6. The actress welcomed son Charlie this May.
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Video: Courtesy of Sony.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld

We all know that Elaine Benes was on the sponge, which means Louis-Dreyfus' pregnancies in 1992 (season 3) and 1997 (season 8) had to be obscured by oversized coats and Mr. Lipman's muffin top counter.
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Video: Courtesy of CBS.
Cobie Smulders & Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother

Both of the sitcom's female stars were pregnant in season 4, though neither made it into the script. Instead, they spent a lot of time sitting in the booths at MacLaren's and using Jason Segel as a human shield.
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Video: Courtesy of Fox.
Melissa Fumero, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Notice how Amy Santiago spent most of season 3 sitting behind her desk? That's down to Fumero's off-screen 2016 pregnancy in 2016, though the actress' belly got a cameo when her character went undercover as an expecting inmate. Costar Chelsea Peretti, meanwhile, rocked a body cast before having her current pregnancy written into the show this season.
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Video: Courtesy of HBO.
Jemima Kirke, Girls

Kirke gave birth to her second child just months after filming the show's second season, though some slick camera work made viewers none the wiser.
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Video: Courtesy of Showtime.
Claire Danes, Homeland

"I was pregnant for the second season of Homeland, and as my baby progressed, the show got more action-packed," Danes, mother of 4-yar-old Cyrus, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. "At one point, we were shooting in an old sewage factory. I was kidnapped, I was chained to a pipe, it was 4 a.m., I was 7½ months pregnant, and I was like, 'This sucks.' I had to do love scenes pregnant. That was really unpleasant."

According to costar Damian Lewis, Danes had a "belly double" on the set. Morena Baccarin, who was pregnant during the Showtime drama's third season, also revealed that digital technology was used to edit out her growing stomach.
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Video: Courtesy of Lionsgate Television.
January Jones, Mad Men

Jones gave birth to son Xander in 2011, inspiring a storyline in which Betty Draper piled on the pounds and joined Weight Watchers. Showrunner Matthew Weiner upped the ante by having the actress wear a fat suit.
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Video: Courtesy of NBC Universal Television.
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Guess what's lurking behind that box of mail. The artist otherwise known as Leslie Knope spent a lot of time shielding herself with chairs and other office equipment while filming episodes during her second pregnancy.
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Video: Courtesy of HBO.
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

"I didn’t really pop — well, I didn’t really pop, pop until after we wrapped, which that’s great," Chlumsky said of filming the show's second season while pregnant; she gave birth again in 2016. "But we started to have to get a little creative in maybe the last episode. But the nice time is it took place in the winter so everyone’s wearing jackets anyway."
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Video: Courtesy of NBC Universal Television.
Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Timing is everything. When Fey announced she was expecting her second child in the summer of 2011, NBC was able to push back the season 3 premiere of 30 Rock. All Liz Lemon needed, then, was a baggy hi-vis vest to get her through the season 2 finale. Costar Jane Krakowski also welcomed a baby that year, which also went unscripted.
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Video: Courtesy of HBO.
Anna Paquin, True Blood

Costar Todd Lowe claimed that the Oscar winner relied on a stunt double, props, and loose outfits to accommodate her under-wraps pregnancy in season 5. Paquin and husband/onscreen love interest Stephen Moyer welcomed twins in 2012.
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Video: Courtesy of NBC Universal Television Distribution.
Debra Messing, Will & Grace

Honestly, Grace Adler could have Jack and Karen under that black coat and we wouldn't guess. Messing's 2011 pregnancy also caused her to be absent for six episodes in season 6.
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Video: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution.
Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy

Everyone remembers Ball being one of the first openly pregnant actresses on TV, but Little Ricky's arrival wasn't her first rodeo. The comedy legend was pregnant with daughter Lucie Arnaz in this unaired pilot from 1951, though no mention of it was made.
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Video: Courtesy of 20th Television.
Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

What to do with a pregnant lead actress? Have her character kidnapped. Dana Scully went off the grid to account for Anderson's 1994 pregnancy.
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