Thanks to the nature of storytelling in the various visual mediums, one day of in story can take weeks or months to portray. As a consequence, pregnancies that are of the standard 8-9 months look like the characters have been pregnant forever.
Then there's times where the decompressed nature of such stories gets leaned on and outright abused.
Things like Comic Book Time and Webcomic Time can make a pregnancy last years in real time; to the point where even the creators (let alone the readers) aren't sure how far along a character is supposed to be in their pregnancy. A Schedule Slip can aggravate things further. This trope can sometimes leads to Offscreen Inertia if we never actually see the woman deliver or see her again.
Occasionally used as a Running Gag. Contrast withExpress Delivery.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
In Naruto, Kurenai Yuhi was pregnant for 4 years until she gave birth, and the child's gender is yet to be revealed (but Word of God says he wants the child to be a girl). This is more because a sequence of chapters that has indeed taken years to come out span a timeline of a couple of months at most in-story.
In-story there was also Kushina, who was pregnant with Naruto for ten months, but justified because of the Nine-Tails, and the delivery was explicitly stated to be extra dangerous because of this.
One Piece: The father of the protagonist's older brother, Portgas D. Ace, is an extremely notorious criminal (none other than Gol D. Roger, the King of the Pirates). He's so notorious that The Government is out for blood on all his descendants. The man's girlfriend/baby's mother, Rouge, delays her child's birth for at least 20 months through sheer willpoweralone. When the baby is born the birth father, having been executed, has been dead for a year, making it pretty much impossible to establish their connection. This spares the child's life, but costs his mother hers, and she barely manages to entrust the kid to Luffy's grandfather Garp, who also was Roger's Worthy Opponent. The world at large doesn't find out until the child is a young adult — and has been located and captured by the Marines, who reveal it openly while "exhibiting" him as a prisoner.
A really horrifying example comes in Descendants of Darkness. Hisoka Kurosaki's mother Rui was forcibly impregnated by the same demon that constantly rapes her husband Nagare, and said pregnancy with Gods-know-what kind of hellspawn has lasted for at least two years. In story.
Feng Shen Ji: The gods of the series age slowly. Kong Que, leader of the rebel gods, was pregnant for 18 months before having her son. Sir Li Jing, a human aristocrat, says his mysterious wife had been pregnant for two years before his son was born. Strangely, Li's wife was presumably human, too.
During The Clone Saga, Mary Jane was pregnant for about two years in real time, which matches up with Marvel's time scale, 3 years in real time equals 1 year in the comics.
The Queen of Darshan in Lanfeust has been pregnant for 15 months when first seen. Discovering the reason for the unusual length is a minor plot point. The culprit is the darshanide Goddess of Pleasure, who wanted to punish the King for not giving the Queen an orgasm when conceiving the baby. The moment the heroes confront the goddess and mention that the Queen is the one truly suffering, she lifts the curse and the Queen instantly gives birth to a son.
In The Sandman, Hippolyta Hall stays pregnant for about two years while trapped in a dream/nightmare with her dead husband Hector, and only gives birth once Dream releases her. The meta element to this is that Hippolyta and Hector were C-list DC heroes from the '80s comic Infinity, Inc., and she was pregnant at the point that series was canceled in 1988. If Neil Gaiman hadn't appropriated the characters, she could conceivably have been pregnant indefinitely while not being featured in any comic.
Due to Webcomic Time and the occasional Walls OfPurple Prose, pregnancies in fanfiction can feel like this. When a fanfic is read after it is completed (if ever), the pregnancy will speed by much quicker, though.
Nightcrawler/Kurt'spregnancy in Nightcrawler's Burden is supposed to last for the usual nine months, yet each month takes up at least six chapters on average. Add to the fact that the last posted chapter was sometime in the second trimester, and that it hasn’t been updated for over 10 years, makes it one of slowest fanfiction pregnancies.
Films — Live-Action
Averted in Chicago, where Flynn tells Amos that no one will believe Roxie's child is his because a jury "can count to nine. Can you count to nine?"
In the Nightside novels, Alex's pet vulture Agatha was pregnant for 20 months and counting. Justified in-universe, as nobody's sure exactly what she mated with... By book 12, she has finally laid an egg. It's quite bigger than it should be, deep black in color and full of stars.
In the original version of Demon Seed, the supercomputer Proteus informs the mother of his child that her pregnancy will proceed more slowly than a normal pregnancy, not more quickly as she had hoped. She's not pleased, especially since Proteus didn't bother with such niceties as asking first.
Literal example in The Kalevala: the air maiden Ilmatar became pregnant by storming sea and carried the child for centuries. The kid (better known as the mighty wizard Väinämöinen) was thirty years old when he was born. Might be justified because Wizards Live Longer.
A side effect of the early anti-aging treatment in Honor Harrington is extended pregnancies, typically about 11 months. Later versions of the treatment have normal term pregnancies.
In Iain Banks' Excession a character delays her baby's birth due to feeling conflicted about the father; she is heavily pregnant for 40 years.
Subverted or alluded to in the Greg Egan short story "Appropriate Love". A woman has to carry her husband's (unconscious) brain in her belly while his new clone body is grown. (The insurance comapny will only pay for the cheapest life-support system, and she's it.) This takes years, during which she appears pregnant. Entirely humiliated by the process and the inevitable misunderstandings, she ends up a friendless hermit.
The cast and crew of LOST once lampshaded this with Claire's pregnancy. The pregnancy itself is actually more of an aversion, since she was 8 months pregnant at the beginning of the series and gave birth late in the first season, which covered only about a month and a half of story time. However, in real life, about 7 months passed until the birth episode finally aired. In an earlier-season-one question-and-answer session (which is viewable on the DVD set), someone in the audience asks if she is "ever" going to have the baby, to which they jokingly reply "In season 3 — she actually gives birth to an adult!"
Ensign Wildman from Star Trek: Voyager. She was pregnant before the events of the pilot episode. She doesn't give birth to Naomi until midway through Season 2. Since her husband is an alien, this gets explained by the Bizarre Alien Biology. Ironically, once born, her daughter grows up really fast.
In Friends, Rachel is pregnant for at least fifteen months, being already pregnant at Chandler and Monica's wedding (May 15th 2001) and going on maternity leave in August 2002. On the flipside, both Carol and Phoebe were pregnant for about 20 weeks, or about half of what a normal pregnancy is. Phoebe's could be partially justified in that multiple births tend to have shorter gestation periods than single births, but the triplets were explicitly shown to be healthy when they were born, so this was more of a math error than anything, and because of how the show was shot (with most of the new seasons coming in right when the old ones left off) this was hardly the first example of the timeline being off. No wonder Rachel was in such a bad mood at the end of her pregnancy.
In Rome, Eirene tells Pullo of her pregnancy during historical events that occur around 42 B.C. Judging by other historical events, like the betrothal of Octavian and Livia, she is still pregnant in 39 or 38 B.C. This is reportedly due to the show's cancellation and the necessary rewriting of the last few scripts which stuff about 15 years of history into 8 episodes.
Dana Scully's pregnancy in the eighth season of The X-Files seems to have lasted about a year, going by the dates.
This was lampshaded in a Weekend Update skit of Saturday Night Live. When Tina Fey mentioned that Kate Hudson gave birth to her son, she did so after 15 months of pregnancy (Hudson's pregnancy wasn't exceptionally long, but she was in the middle of promoting a couple of movies, so the large number of photos and interviews of her very happily pregnant made it seem longer than it was.)
An Absolutely sketch involving recurring characters Denzil and Gwynedd had Gwynedd revealing she was seventeen years pregnant.
Denzil: Seventeen years?! Gwynedd, if you have been pregnant for seventeen years, surely you should have experienced symptoms, like morning sickness? Gwynedd: I did. But I put that down to waking up in the same bed as you.
In the British sketch show Alfresco there's a Parody Commercial for private healthcare, in which one woman had a normal pregnancy under private care, but another had to wait so long on the National Health Service that her baby was born as an adult.
Sanctuary: Due to a combination of factors, Henry's pregnant girlfriend can't give birth without a huge risk to herself. Magnus figures out a way to reduce this risk by slowing the development of the fetus, but it also means she will be pregnant for a little under two years.
Played with in the case of Magnus herself. Thanks to what essentially amounts to immortality, she discovers a way to remove her fetus and keep it "on ice" until she's ready to have the child in modern times. Ashley is understandably freaked out to learn that not only was she conceived almost a century ago, but that her father is also the man who became Jack the Ripper.
Explicitly defied in How I Met Your Mother: although Lily becomes pregnant in "Challenge Accepted", the sixth season finale (which aired in May 2011), that episode was actually set in September 2011, a couple weeks before Punchy's wedding (which took place in the seventh season premiere, aired September 2011) and she conceived the night of Hurricane Irene (August 27, 2011). Instead of just implying it, the writers take pains to make sure this timing is mentioned in canon: Ted breaks up with Zoey in "Landmarks", the second-to-last episode of season six, and in "Challenge Accepted", mentions that he and Zoey had been broken up for a few months, not the week or so that had elapsed between the two episodes.
In Tinsel, Amaka Okoh's pregnancy lasts 12 months.
In Once Upon a Time, the Evil Queen's Dark Curse, which prevents everyone in Storybrooke from aging, stalls Cinderella's pregnancy at nine months for twenty-eight years. Once Emma enters town and time resumes properly, Ashley is finally able to give birth.
It's stated in Farscape that Aeryn's species, Sebaceans, have the ability to effectively put a pregnancy into suspended animation early on. Since they're a genetically engineered from proto-humansProud Warrior Race, this comes in handy as a female can get pregnant on-mission, hit the biological pause button, finish the mission, return home and gestate normally. The pregnancy can be held in stasis for up to SEVEN YEARS.
In an episode of iCarly, Freddie reveals during an argument with his mom that she was pregnant with him for 11 months.
Mrs. Benson: I wanted to make sure you were done!
Roseanne gave birth to her fourth child on Halloween 1995, despite having already been pregnant in the previous season's Halloween episode (and for more than a month before that, as she found out about it in that season's premiere).
Myths & Religion
It's not remotely a doctrine of any form of Christianity present or past, but attempting to work out when Jesus was born could lead one to conclude that his mother Mary experienced a pregnancy of 10 years. That's because (according to the Gospels) his conception occurred during Herod the Great's reign as King of Judea, and his birth during a census in Cyrenius's reign as Governer of Syria. Extra-Biblical sources date those periods as 10 years apart. However, regardless of its reference to Cyrenius (the correct translation may actually be "before" and not "during"), the Bible does portray Herod as reigning when Jesus was born (whereupon he pulls his infamous Nice Job Breaking It, Herod), so its authors clearly don't intend to suggest a years-long pregnancy.
In classical Chinese literature, it is said that multiple ancient kings' mothers were pregnant for 2~3 years before the kings were born. Obviously this is made up to make people believe these kings have divine power.
Interestingly, this was reversed in a myth put about in England as part of the Historical Villain Upgrade of Richard III (see below).
According to buddhist tradition, Buddha's wife Yashodara stayed pregnant with his son Rahula for six years. After he left her for his spiritual quest, Yashodara was accused of adultery when her pregnancy was only visible years after her husband's departure. Fortunately, Buddha came back to confirm the filiation.
Of course it's also possible that, Buddha being Buddha, he simply forgave Yashodara for cheating on him and lied so she wouldn't be persecuted. Whether or not a supernatually long pregnancy is more plausible than a man being so quick to shrug off his wife getting pregnant by another man is one for the philosophers.
The Book of Erotic Fantasy gives details on the subject of reproduction for all the major player races, noting that elves have a gestation period of fully two years.
The Eldar in Tabletop Game/Warhammer40000 are also described in some sources (such as the Dark Eldar codex) as having a gestation period of several years.
Serbian comedy Radovan the Third has Radovan's daughter pregnant for five years because her father won't let her give birth until she gets married.
A retroactive example — At the end of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, it is noted that Ena gives birth to Rajaion's child, despite no pregnancy being mentioned before. The father in question had died three years prior, and the mother had presumably been kept away from him for at least an additional year besides. She also mentions that he had left their homeland 19 years before the climax of FE9, and the condition he was in when she was near him after that left her getting pregnant then... unlikely, to say the least. A slight twist in that neither of them are completely human, and while this isn't explicitly shown to happen with any other dragon laguz they are notoriously long-lived (the paternal grandfather, Dheginsea, is known to be at the very least in his ninth century of life and doesn't look particularly ancient), so it's possible, although this does raise questions about the pregnancy of Ena's would-be sister-in-law, which was by all accounts not nearly as long.
Sam & Max: Freelance Police, in the Telltale Games, has Sybil Pandemik. Her half-golem baby isn't born until the end of the 5th episode of season 3, by which point she's a month into her fifth trimester. In other words, fifteen months of being pregnant. When her water breaks, she also... er, "releases" pennies, to the confusion of the other characters.
In The Sims 2, if you save and exit a household while a Sim is pregnant, she will remain at the stage of pregnancy she was at when you did so. So if you go into another household and have another male (or female) kid "grow" to be an adult while being there, they might meet the same woman, who was always pregnant since he (or she) was a child... Reality-Breaking Paradox!
Notably averted in The Sims 3, however: there's an option to have the world continue around you while you play, so characters will grow up, grow old, get married, have kids, and die, and you might never know (unless you read the newspaper).
In Red Dead Redemption, one of the side quests has you help a pregnant woman who was thrown out on the street by the man's wife. If you do not complete the mission until after the Time Skip (which is about 3 years) and talk with her, she is still pregnant.
Fridge Brilliance for this one: she's running a Baby Trap scam, so even if she really is pregnant, it doesn't have to be the same kid.
Anders Loves Maria: Maria was pregnant for nearly all of the comic's three-and-a-half-year run. Though this was padded out by the comic's liberal use of flashbacks.
Word of God says that Nei'kalsa Tion Sarghress is pregnant during this scene, which was published during December of 2007. While only a few months passed in story until a 15 year timeskip in October 2011, this means she was pregnant for almost 4 years of real time. Even knowing that drow are Fae and therefore have Human Outside, Alien Inside, that's still pushing it.
Mel'arnach also has a bit of this, since she's shown as heavily pregnant in a chapter published in March of 2012 and was shown to have given birth a few days prior in July 2013. Though only a few days passed in story this means she was pregnant for 16 months of real time.
In Gene Catlow, Tatavania has been pregnant with Michelle from 2003 to the present (last seen in-comic: July 2011). Due to one of the more egregious abuses of Webcomic Time ever, that time span has only been a few months, in-story.
The Order of the Stick: Kazumi Kato has been pregnant for three years worth of strips and counting. In-story it's been an unknown number of months, but probably between 6 and 8.
Sabrina Online: Amy was pregnant with her son from February 1997 to January 2000. In-story her pregnancy was of normal length.
In TwoKinds, Flora has been pregnant since 2006 (Flora, herself, has only been aware since 2010). As of June 2013, she's showing in earnest and has come clean with Trace (the father). This is another case of chronic Webcomic Time, since only a few weeks have passed in-universe.
Olympic Dames, where the four girls became heavily pregnant overnight due to supernatural meddling, but are stuck there for what feels like forever sue to the inexorable demands of plot and Comic Book Time.
The classic web hoax malepregnancy.com dates back to at least 1999 according to the Internet Archive. The subject, Mr. Lee Mingwei, is still described as pregnant as of 2010. That's 11 years.
Happens a lot on message boards with people who say "How much drama can I have in my life?" It's "I'm having a baby!" Years later, she's still pregnant.
Bonnie from Family Guy was pregnant for the show's first six seasons. Even though the show runs on Comic Book Time, since none of the other kids have aged at all, it's frequently lampshaded by other characters, since it took ten years of real time for her to give birth in the episode "Ocean's Three and a Half".
Quagmire: It's hard to believe she's already 18.
Ms. Gloria Duwong from The Weekenders was pregnant for the entire four seasons of the show.
Martha Generic from Bobby's World was pregnant for nearly two years.
Luanne Platter from King of the Hill was pregnant for almost three years; the strange part was she showed no signs at all until the episode where she gave birth.
Fish Hooks: Mr. Baldwin, a seahorse. As revealed by Randy Pincherson in the episode "Spoiler Alert", he's going to have 4 girls, which he eventually gives birth to (along with 8 other siblings) shortly before the episode "Assignment: Babies".
Marge was apparently pregnant with Lisa for 15-16 months on The Simpsons, seeing how she was conceived in March 1983 around the MASH series finale and was born around the 1984 Summer Olympics.
This article reports of a woman who had a calcified fetus removed from her body. Apparently she had miscarried the almost full term baby and never passed it from her system. The fetus calcified and remained in her womb for decades before doctors removed it.
An elephant fetus takes 2 years to gestate.
A number of animals are capable of delayed implantation. For example, the nine-banded armadillo delays for about the same amount of time it takes to gestate (four months).
It's actually very possible for a woman to be pregnant for ten or eleven months. Unfortunately, these pregnancies have a high rate of death for the fetus, much higher than an equivalent premature baby, because the baby's head is generally too large to fit through the pelvis and a cesarean is usually the only safe option. Other problems are caused by issues such as placenta becoming less active and baby being able to poo in the womb.
Trimesters of pregnancy are formally assessed from the end of the last menstrual period, not the presumed date of conception, which typically adds another two weeks to the pregnancy's technical duration.
The longest human pregnancy on record lasted 375 days instead of the standard 280 — labour is triggered by a foetus' size and this foetus had abnormally slow growth.
It is estimated that a human pregnancy should be about 18 months. We are all born incredibly premature in order to be able to fit the head out at all and avoid killing our mothers in the process. The growth of a baby's brain is far more comparable with fetuses than with babies in other apes, and humans are downright helpless compared to other primates soon after birth.
One of the aspects of the Malicious Slander spread about Richard of Gloucester after his defeat at the battle of Bosworth was that his mother was pregnant with him for two years, and when he was finally born he was a monstrously huge child with a full set of fanglike teeth and hair down to his (hunchbacked, according to the stories) shoulders. This is particularly ironic given that he was in fact born so small and sickly that it's quite possible he was mildly premature.