While most pregnant women might be grateful for maternity leave, not everyone feels the same way. These A-list celebrities, for example, carried on acting while they were expecting. And all the while, producers and writers tried to come up with creative ways to keep their baby bump hidden from viewers. From January Jones in a fat suit to Leah Remini hiding behind the kitchen counters, we unveil the 20 expectant TV actresses who hid it oh so well.
20. January Jones
In real life, January Jones didn’t pile on as many pounds as her on-screen character Betty Draper. Her weight gain storyline during the fifth season of Mad Men, however, was still deliberately created to cover a growing baby bump. And as if pregnancy wasn’t uncomfortable enough, Jones later revealed that it took a minimum of six agonizing hours for her to put the prosthetics on.
19. Kerry Washington
Scandal star Kerry Washington spent most of season three being covered by oversized handbags, people and… a lamp. In fact, Washington’s Olivia Pope was rarely caught with her full body on camera, as her pregnancy was omitted from the show entirely. Meanwhile, the actress would later admit that filming and hiding her pregnancy was a real struggle during this time. Indeed, she even told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 that “the season really broke [her].”
18. Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker became pregnant during season five of Sex And The City, but at least the actress’ character, Carrie Bradshaw, had some amazing outfits to help hide her bump. Eventually, however, the costumes just weren’t enough to hide SJP’s growing baby, and the season was reduced to only eight episodes.
17. Alyson Hannigan
How I Met Your Mother actress Alyson Hannigan found herself pregnant throughout the fourth season of the hit TV sitcom. And she adopted every trick in the book to conceal her baby bump, from hiding it behind large bags to draping herself in oversized coats. What’s more, the writers of the show were inventive with their storylines, too. In fact, Hannigan’s character Lily even flaunted her bump at a hot dog eating competition, claiming that it was a food baby!
16. Cobie Smulders
And the writers of HIMYM didn’t just have one pregnancy to conceal during season four either. Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin, discovered she was pregnant shortly after Hannigan, and showrunners used the usual tricks, like huge accessories and props, to hide her bump. The sitcom’s co-creator Craig Thomas has even admitted that, at one stage, Smulders’ pregnancy was so visibly noticeable that her belly had to be hidden behind a huge bowl of fruit.
15. Courteney Cox
While fans of Friends were hooked on Monica and Chandler’s adoption story, the reality turned out very different for actress Courteney Cox. Cox discovered that she was actually pregnant during the final season of the sitcom, which naturally didn’t fit in with the storyline at all. As such, then, producers had to conceal her baby bump with clothes and accessories for the rest of the run.
14. Claire Danes
Homeland actress Claire Danes was pregnant throughout season two of the show. Rather than taking time off, however, she decided that she actually wanted to continue filming without trying to conceal it. Ultimately, though, the bump became too noticeable. As a result, then, clever camera angles alongside CGI tricks – and even a body double – were used to hide Danes’ growing belly.
13. Gillian Anderson
In 1994 The X Files faced a dilemma when, towards the end of the first season, Gillian Anderson announced she was pregnant. There were even debates as to whether or not her character, Dana Scully, should be recast. Screenwriter Chris Carter, however, wouldn’t even entertain the idea. And so instead Anderson was subject to creative camera work and even featured in an abduction storyline to give her time off.
12. Ellen Pompeo
Grey’s Anatomy was another show that used camera trickery to hide lead star Ellen Pompeo’s baby bump. During season six, Pompeo was filmed from the neck upwards or in a sitting position to keep her stomach concealed. And, eventually, her character Meredith was given time off from the show altogether in a storyline that saw her donate part of her liver to her father.
11. Julia-Louis Dreyfus
Julia-Louis Dreyfus had not one, but two, pregnancies during the nine-season run of Seinfeld. Her first pregnancy was easy to conceal, with her character being written out of the show for a few episodes. The second pregnancy, however, was a bit more difficult, and producers had to disguise her bump with some very loose clothing.
10. Amy Poehler
Parks and Recreation was picked up by NBC for a third season in 2010, and it came as a shock when Amy Poehler announced that she was pregnant during the production stages. But her baby bump was worked around with tight camera shots and baggy clothing, and it didn’t affect her character’s storyline at all.
9. Leah Remini
Leah Remini was another actress who was given baggy clothing to help hide her baby bump during the sixth season of The King of Queens. And her character, Carrie Heffernan, also went through a period of unemployment to make the weight gain appear intentional. In addition, Remini was sometimes hidden behind kitchen worktops and furniture.
8. Keri Russell
Keri Russell and her co-star, Matthew Rhys, play lovers in The Americans, and fiction soon turned to reality in 2013 when the stars began dating in real life. Then in 2016 the showbiz couple announced their pregnancy during season four of the show. And subsequently Russell’s baby bump was covered up with costumes and props. What’s more, it was also removed altogether on screen with the use of CGI.
7. Kelly Rutherford
Gossip Girl star Kerry Rutherford was subject to baggy clothing to hide her pregnancy while filming for the second season of the hit teen drama. Specifically, her character Lily van der Woodsen had to wear huge scarves and hold extra large newspapers!
6. Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell certainly didn’t shy away from the camera when she discovered she was pregnant. Indeed, the House of Lies actress had to film a scene for a leaked sex tape in the show while she was seven months gone. Bell joked about the scene afterwards, telling Conan O’Brien, “Now I can forever look at my daughter and go, ‘Oh, you were present for that.’”
5. Jane Leeves
Instead of hiding her baby bump, Frasier star Jane Leeves’ pregnancy was incorporated into Daphne’s storyline when her character began suffering from an eating disorder. And, eventually, Daphne was written out entirely for a while. Specifically, the housekeeper was sent to a health spa to deal with her weight issues – just as Leeves was about to give birth.
4. Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad announced that she was pregnant during the third season of The Cosby Show. Her pregnancy, however, was left entirely out of her character’s storylines. And so Clair Huxtable was kept concealed behind kitchen worktops and baggy jumpers. In fact, producers even made a hole in her mattress to keep Rashad’s stomach hidden from the cameras!
3. Julie Bowen
Julie Bowen was convinced that she wouldn’t land the part of Claire Dunphy in Modern Family because she auditioned while she was pregnant. But she did indeed bag the role, and her baby bump was then hidden during the pilot episode with plenty of washing and soft furnishings.
2. Debra Messing
Debra Messing revealed that she was pregnant during production of the sixth season of sitcom Will & Grace. Initially, she was just given billowing clothing to hide her burgeoning bump. In the end, however, Messing was written out of five episodes of the show to allow her to go on maternity leave.
1. Jane Krakowski
The 30 Rock team decided that it would be best to omit Jane Krakowski’s pregnancy from the show because, as exec producer Robert Carlock told Entertainment Weekly in 2011, “no child should have Jenna Maroney for a mother.” And so Krakowski’s belly was creatively hidden with unusual outfits: even a dog costume for one particular episode.