The Essential Movies To Watch When You're Expecting

Courtesy of Focus Films
In her recently published memoir And Now I Have Everything, Meaghan O'Connell offers a "radical" alternative to the hushed, reverential language typically used to speak about motherhood. "What if, instead of worrying about scaring women, we told them the truth?" O'Connell asks. "What if we treated women like thinking adults?"
Well, Diablo Cody's upcoming movie Tully, out May 4, aims to tell an uncomfortable truth about motherhood and pregnancy — Cody is, to use O'Connell's words, treating the audience like "thinking adults." In the movie, Charlize Theron's character, Marlo, is subsumed under the pressure and chaos of two children, and is pregnant with a third. Her new nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), helps Marlo manage — but her presence creates new issues for Marlo, too.
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Not all movies about pregnancy and motherhood are as raw as Tully. In fact, many of them replace uncomfortable truths with sappy and sentimental storylines — and that's all right. Pregnancy's a mixed bag, and so are the movies about it. Ranging from funny to cringe-worthy to sentimental, these movies will be cathartic experiences for expectant mothers.
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Baby Boom (1987)

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) is trying to balance the impossible. She has to manage a demanding career – which, as her boss says, requires “48 hours a day” – and a six-month-old baby girl that J.C. inherited when her estranged cousin died. To fulfill her duties, J.C. often goes to extreme lengths (that are funny in movies, but are all-too-common in real life). At a standstill, J.C. decides to quit her job, move to Vermont, and tackle a whole new set of challenges — including fixing up a house that barely has functional plumbing. Sam Shepard plays the Vermont handyman that fixes J.C.'s house and eventually wins her over.
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The Joy Luck Club (1993)

The Joy Luck Club is the ultimate movie about mothers and daughters. The movie, which is based on Amy Tan’s acclaimed novel, follows relationships between four mother-daughter pairs. The mothers, all immigrants from China, sense a gulf between themselves and their American-born daughters. The daughters also struggle to relate. But through story-telling (and actually listening to each other), the mothers and daughters are able to reach a place of understanding. The Joy Luck Club is a series of heartwarming vignettes about what it means to be a mother.
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Nine Months (1995)

There’s are Hugh Grant romantic comedies featuring famous actresses, prime ministers, and ‘80s pop stars. Fear not, expectant mothers: There’s a Hugh Grant romantic comedy for you, too. In Nine Months, Grant plays a man whose girlfriend, Rebecca (Julianne Moore), becomes unexpectedly pregnant. He spends the movie bumbling, confused, and fainting at the sight of an epidural. If Grant's floppy hair and crinkly smile isn't enough to win you over, then watch Nine Months for Robin Williams. His stint as Rebecca’s gynecologist makes the movie.
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Father of the Bride 2 (1995)

If Tully exists on the “very real” side of the pregnancy movie spectrum, then Nancy Meyers’ Father of the Bride 2 is on the other, very enjoyable side, where events are relatively easy and take place in very clean, fancy houses. In Father of the Bride, George Banks (Steve Martin) struggles to adjust with the fact that his young daughter (Kimberly Williams) is getting married to a man she met in Rome. In the second movie, he has another curveball: Not only is his daughter, Annie, pregnant — his wife (Diane Keaton) is, too.
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Soul Food (1997)

Alternatively, instead of watching a movie about pregnancy, you can watch one about the complicated and wonderful and occasionally maddening facts of family life. After all, your family is about to get one person bigger. Ahmad (Martell Hill Edmond) is born into the Joseph clan, a family tied together by tradition and bonds. But as Ahmad grows up, the family encounters difficulties that threaten to tear them apart — including the loss of the family matriarch. Soul Food is the perfect movie to lose yourself in for two hours. You'll be attached to the characters like they're your family by the end.
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The Object of My Affection (1998)

Nina (Jennifer Aniston) has found a perfect life partner in her roommate, George (Paul Rudd). She’s a wee bit madly in love with him, and he with her. “Do you think most married couples are as happy as we are?” George asks Nina. The only complication to Nina and George getting together? George, as Nina discovers, is gay. When Nina becomes pregnant, she wants to raise the child with George — but while it’s a good idea in theory, it’s more complicated in practice.
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Where the Heart Is (2000)

To fully enjoy Where the Heart Is, you'll have to suspend most expectations of believability. When she’s 17 years old and heavily pregnant, Novalee (Natalie Portman) is abandoned by her boyfriend outside of an Oklahoma Walmart. With only $5.55 to her name, Novalee decides to move into the Walmart and have the baby there. She becomes an instant media sensation. Novalee and her daughter, Americus Nation (really!), move in with a nurse, Lexie (Ashley Judd), who can help Novalee because of her own past as a teen mom.
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Knocked Up (2007)

You know how this one goes. After getting a highly anticipated promotion, broadcast journalist Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) goes out to celebrate. She lets herself have one nice day — and of course, she pays the price. Alison's one-night-stand with Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who she met on that night out, becomes a nine-month stand, and maybe more, when Alison discovers she’s pregnant. Knocked Up is a movie about two people trying to make an awkward situation work, and is both hilarious and heartening.
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Waitress (2007)

Jenna (Keri Russell), a waitress in a small Southern town, designs a custom pie for every occasion. She has a pie for when she’s angry at her deadbeat husband (Jeremy Sisto), and a pie for when she falls in love with her gynecologist, Dr. Pommater (Nathan Fillion). Jenna, you see, is pregnant – and trapped in terrible marriage. In the nine-month span she’s pregnant, Jenna tries to liberate herself and create a better future for her child.
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Juno (2007)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Diablo Cody, the woman behind the bracingly honest movie Tully, also wrote Juno, one of cinema’s frankest depictions of teen pregnancy. High school junior Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is quirky and dark and charming – and she’s also inconveniently pregnant. To everyone’s surprise, including her own, Juno balks at getting an abortion while she’s at the clinic. She decides, instead, to give the baby up for adoption to a local couple. Juno’s pregnancy affects her relationships with her parents and semi-boyfriend, Paulie (Michael Cera), and the pressures of an incoming baby also send reverberations through the seemingly perfect couple.
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Under the Same Moon (2007)

When her son is 9, single mother Rosario (Kate del Castillo) must do something unimaginably difficult: Immigrate from Mexico to the United States and leave her son, Carlitos (Adrian Alonso) behind. After months talking to his mother on a payphone, Carlitos finds a way to make the journey to America himself. His odyssey is incredibly dangerous — and yet through every twist and turn, he gets one step closer to L.A., where his mother is. Under the Same Moon is a tear-jerker of a movie about the unshakable bond between a mother and her child.
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Baby Mama (2008)

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey), a single executive, wants to have a baby, but then finds that she’s unable to carry the child herself. So, Kate hires Angie Ostrowski (Amy Poehler), a raucous woman from South Philadelphia, to be her surrogate. Angie moves in so Kate can supervise her habits. But Angie has a secret — she's not actually pregnant with Kate's baby. At first, she lied about the surrogate process working. Then, she gets pregnant with her boyfriend. Kate, incredibly disappointed, is willing to fight for what she considers to be her child.
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Away We Go (2009)

Six months into Verona’s (Maya Rudolph) pregnancy, her boyfriend Burt’s (John Krasinski) parents announce that they’re moving — and there goes Burt and Verona's expected support system. So the couple hits the road, scouring America for a city in which they can raise their child. Away We Go is an adventure movie about a couple just starting off on the greatest adventure of them all. Krasinski and Rudolph have incredible chemistry — you really believe them. A warning, though: the Alexi Murdoch soundtrack will make you cry.
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The Boss Baby (2017)

Now that The Boss Baby is officially an Oscar-nominated movie, we can recommend it. Seven-year-old Timothy Templeton (Miles Bakshi) has an unusual baby brother. The baby his parents bring home from the hospital is wearing a suit, carries a briefcase, and has the voice of Alec Baldwin. The Boss Baby, as he’s called, was sent to earth on a mission to win more love for babies from the percentage of global love. The Boss Baby is just ridiculous enough to be charming. After all, babies are the boss.
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Tully (2018)

Tully isn't the glossy portrayal of motherhood seen in so many movies. Charlize Theron's Marlo is overworked, underappreciated, and above all, exhausted. When Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives, Marlo thinks she has a chance to get a sliver of her sense of self back. The focus of Tully isn't the child Marlo is carrying, but Marlo herself.
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