Created By: mythbuster on September 26, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on December 19, 2013

Instantly Detectable Pregnancy

Pregnancy is confirmed way too quickly.

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Sex makes babies. However, there is a certain lag-time between sex, conception and a positive pregnancy test. It takes hours or even days for sperm to fertilize an egg, and days more for the zygote to implant, which is the earliest a woman's body can detect pregnancy. A woman will most likely not even suspect she's pregnant until her first missed period. Not so in fiction, where plotlines require advancement and where women consequently can detect pregnancy within days or even hours of conception.

There can be variations on how she does it.

Realistic

This is a subtrope of Artistic License Biology. The clues that she's pregnant are realistic biological clues, but they happen unrealistically early. Pretty much any physical symptoms before a missed period are examples of this type. One particular symptom, morning sickness, is very commonly used this way as a character's first sign that she's pregnant, even though in Real Life it doesn't happen until at least six weeks after conception.

Mystical

Type 2 is less tangible. The mother just knows that she's pregnant, or just had a feeling. This works in fantastic universes where there could be a magical or psychic reason for her to know. If it happens in a non-magical setting, chalk it up to a good guess with a hint of Women's Mysteries. (We tend not to see the cases where a woman has sex, says "I just know I'm pregnant!" and then turns out to not be.)

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In the finale of the Sailor Moon manga it is implied that Usagi was able to sense when her daughter was conceived.

Comics
  • In a Thorgal story, after Kriss de Valnor is raped, her traveling companion Sigvald is able to figure out that she's pregnant when she says her breasts are growing bigger. However, there's no indication of how much time has passed since.

Film
  • Sil announces that she is pregnant to Arden, seconds after the act, in Species.
  • Barely a day after having artificial insemination in The Backup Plan, Jennifer Lopez' character Zoe gets it on with Alex O'Loughlin's character Stan. During, she has to run over and throw up, and then announces she's pregnant. Stan says "I think it takes a little longer than that". She, of course, means from the AI - though being a day previous, she still shouldn't be able to know (or have morning sickness, for that matter) so this statement is a little ironic, touching on lampshading.
  • In Look Who's Talking, the scene of Mollie in bed with her boyfriend cuts to the scene of Mollie throwing up in a sink at work. The implication is that this is her first sign that anything's amiss.

Literature
  • In Tennessee Williams's play The Rose Tattoo, Serafina says she knows she's conceived when she feels her husband's rose tattoo burning on her breast.
  • In To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Maureen tells Brian after their first round of no-contraception sex that she is now an expectant mother.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of NYPD Blue, Bobby and Diane have sex, and she tells him that they just made a baby. She could feel it.
  • Averted in the first season of 24, when Teri's pregnancy test comes up positive on the day she was sexually assaulted. She correctly reassures Kim that it has to be Jack's child, not the rapist's, because pregnancies can't be detected that early.

VideoGames
  • The Sims games use morning sickness as the first sign that a woman is pregnant. She'll run to the toilet and throw up, and then walk around with a Thought Bubble that contains a pacifier and a question mark. "Baby?" To be fair, a Sim pregnancy only lasts three days. But the prevalence of this trope in other media means that throwing up the morning after sex (or Woo Hoo, in this case) is a nice piece of prepackaged shorthand for pregnancy.
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • September 26, 2012
    Prfnoff
    In Tennessee Williams's play The Rose Tattoo, Serafina says she knows she's conceived when she feels her husband's rose tattoo burning on her breast.
  • September 26, 2012
    Dacilriel
    In the finale of the Sailor Moon manga it is implied that Usagi was able to sense when her daughter was conceived.
  • September 27, 2012
    Chabal2
    Thorgal: After Kriss de Valnor is raped, her traveling companion Sigvald is able to figure out that she's pregnant when she says her breats are growing bigger. However, there's no indication of how much time has passed since.
  • October 4, 2012
    tardigrade
    Sil announces that she is pregnant to Arden, seconds after the act, in Species.
  • October 4, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Barely a day after having artificial insemination in The Backup Plan, Jennifer Lopez' character Zoe gets it on with Alex O'Loughlin's character Stan. During, she has to run over and throw up and announces she's pregnant. Stan says "I think it takes a little longer than that". She, of course, means from the AI - though being a day previous, she wouldn't be able to know (or have morning sickness, for that matter) so this statement is a little ironic, touching on lampshading.
  • January 28, 2013
    randomsurfer
    NYPD Blue: one time when Bobby Simone and Diane have sex, she tells him that they just made a baby. She could feel it.
  • January 28, 2013
    Megaptera
    In Look Whos Talking, the scene of Mollie in bed with her boyfriend cuts to the scene of Mollie throwing up in a sink at work. The implication is that this is her first sign that anything's amiss.
  • January 28, 2013
    Megaptera
    You might want to distinguish two types of this trope.

    Type 1: the Artistic License sort, where the mother has perfectly realistic symptoms like morning sickness but has them way too early or in an otherwise unrealistic fashion. In reality the physical symptoms pretty much don't show up until some time after the first missed period.

    Type 2: the mystical or intuitive sort, where the mother "just has a feeling" and it turns out to be right, or she has some kind of magical or supernatural way of knowing.

    The first type includes the examples from The Backup Plan and Look Whos Talking, and maybe Thorgal although that one might be a case of being too vague in the details to really tell if it's a mistake. The second type includes the Sailor Moon, NYPD Blue, and The Rose Tattoo examples.
  • January 28, 2013
    SharleeD
    Averted in the first season of 24, when Teri's pregnancy test comes up positive on the day she was sexually assaulted. She correctly reassures Kim that it has to be Jack's child, not the rapist's, because pregnancies can't be detected that early.
  • January 28, 2013
    Antigone3
    In To Sail Beyond The Sunset, Maureen tells Brian after their first round of no-contraception sex that she is now an expectant mother. It's been too long since I read that book to recall whether she really did conceive that time, though she was pregnant before she and Brian married.
  • January 28, 2013
    Chabal2
    A Predator can tell if its victim is pregnant (and thus not a Worthy Opponent) via its vision filters.
  • April 1, 2013
    Megaptera
    Staking a claim on this since nobody else has touched it for a while. Open for more examples.
  • April 2, 2013
    Megaptera
    I'm not sure about the Predator example, unless there's a specific case where the Predator diagnosed some woman's pregnancy before she even knew about it herself.
  • April 3, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ It occurred in Predator 2. When the Predator captured police detective Leona Cantrell it looked inside of her and saw a fetus. Leona did not outwardly appear pregnant at the time.
  • December 17, 2013
    PennyChange
    In Planet Terror, when El Wray is dying, Cherry tearfully reminds him that he promised her it'd always be "two against the world". El Wray says "It still is" before touching her stomach and saying his catchphrase "I never miss". Sure enough, when we see Cherry in the epilogue, she's got a cute little baby in tow.

    In the Sandman series, Rose Walker tells her brother Jed (in a shared dream) that she's pregnant. Jed asks her if she's taken a test and she admits she hasn't, but says that "Women know". Jed points out that some women, in fact, don't know, and Rose amends her comment to "Well, I know". Justified in that Rose is Desire's granddaughter, and may have a more advanced insight than the average human.

    In the George Foy novel The Memory of Fire, Soledad "just knows" that she is pregnant, with many of her life-or-death decisions made under the assumption that she has a baby to consider. The only sign of pregnancy is the morning sickness, which begins 2-3 weeks into her pregnancy.
  • December 17, 2013
    PennyChange
    In Archer, Cheryl/Carol/Cristal declares herself pregnant the day after sleeping with Conway Stern. Subverted in that she isn't pregnant, and everyone is aware that it's just Cheryl being insane.
  • December 17, 2013
    PennyChange
    I'd suggest making this into two separate tropes: Artistic License - Pregnancy (or just folded in with Artistic License - Biology) and Instantly Detectable Pregnancy for the "just knew" cases. The two types seem vastly different to share a trope- Type 1 is an attempt to "prove" a character's pregnancy with (inaccurate) symptoms, while Type 2 is a way for a character to discover her pregnancy without resorting to icky things like puking every morning or peeing on a stick.
  • December 17, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    In National Lampoon's Animal House, when Clorette introduces Pinto to her parents during the parade-turned-chaos, she tells them "We have to get married" in a serious voice, suggesting she knew she was pregnant. But Pinto and Clorette only had sex once, and that was the night before (and even then, it was only half-implied that they did anything). Not bad for 1960s technology.
  • December 17, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    i misread the title as Instantly Delectable Pregnancy.

    delectable detectable

    yep, quite similar on some fonts.

    Istantly Evident Pregnancy?
  • December 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Remove the Type X labels. That encourages people to just put "Work X is a Type Y," and Type Labels Are Not Examples.
  • December 19, 2013
    Arivne
    Changed Type 1 to Realistic and Type 2 to Mystical.
  • December 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    • In Zoo Tycoon 2, the game alerts you to whether an animal has become pregnant immediately after the mating is complete. Depending on species, it can take days, weeks, or even months to confirm an animal's impregnation in real-life zoos.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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