[Natalie has passed herself off as pregnant to Paul Buchanan]
Adrian Monk: How did you do that?
Natalie Teeger: See, Mr. Monk, when two people love each other, they want to express that love… [gestures to her chest]
Adrian Monk: What?
Natalie Teeger: It’s a pillow!
Adrian Monk: Uh, well, that explains almost nothing.Who is the one person no one ever questions or suspects? A pregnant woman! Many have picked up this handy little fact and seen its potential for whenever you need to get away with something. But real pregnancy is messy and takes too long. Not to worry! There is a simple trick to getting the full effect of being pregnant without having to go through all the trouble of actually becoming pregnant: Step 1: Stuff a pillow up your shirt. Congratulations! Now everyone who sees you will conclude that you are in some late stage of pregnancy and won't question or harass you about anything! Also quite useful if someone actually thinks you are pregnant when you really aren't, although they may get curious when the natural follow-up never happens. Sometimes two boys will do this to be pregnant woman in a Trench coat. Subtrope of Fake Pregnancy. A form of Obfuscating Disability. Compare Fake Boobs.
— Monk, episode "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service"
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- In a Mentos ad, a man and his date skip out on a restaurant bill by pretending she just went into labor and rushing to their motorcycle. Turns out she just had a motorcycle helmet under her dress.
- A similar ad was featuring a couple driving at high speed during the streets. They get stopped by the police and, upon seeing the very-pregnant woman, they escort them to the hospital. When the couple run up the stairs, the soccer ball slips from underneath her dress. It was a car ad.
- Yet another advert had a couple getting intimate in a theatre. The woman cries out loudly enough to halt the play. The man balls a jacket underneath her dress, and by the time people get up there, makes out she's going into labor.
- This Doritos commercial has woman use a pillow to hide a bag of Doritos under her shirt.
- An ad for Emirates Airline has woman attempting to get an upgrade from a different airline with a very obvious pillow stuffed up her jumper telling the woman at the check-in desk that it "might be twins".
Anime and Manga
- In the first episode of Cowboy Bebop, a woman named Catalina fakes a pregnancy by stuffing drugs up her dress. Yes, you heard right. She smuggles drugs in a fake belly. What happens to her in the end is heartbreaking.
- In the "Escape From Pain" episode of Trigun, Milly smuggles a teenage girl under her coat. Though the girl is pretty petite, and Milly rather tall, the resultant bulge is still large enough that she attracts curious scrutiny (including one old woman asking if she's expecting sextuplets), though she still manages to use this to fool the people chasing the girl she's hiding.
- Miu from Strawberry Marshmallow decides to stuff a pillow under her nightdress after sleeping with Nobue. No, not in that way.
Nobue: Well that was fast.
- In Victory Gundam, the White Ark is boarded at one point when attempting to sneak into Zanscare territory. The crew, mostly consisting of kids and Marbet, pretend to be Zanscare refugees fleeing the warfront while hiding their equipment under Marbet's shirt, making her look very pregnant. In a twist, Marbet actually was pregnant at the time, but it was too early for it to be showing.
- In one FoxTrot strip, Jason and Marcus have pillows under their shirts. At first they're bugging people with "I think we ate too much Halloween candy" and then when that doesn't get a reaction, it's "I think we're pregnant."
- Mary-Maria uses this to smuggle a pair of guns into Area 51 in Archer & Armstrong. "It's twins."
- There's a Get Smart fan fic where 99 uses this to get Max out of a jam.
- DeviantArt user, BADBOYCH did an artwork of two boys disguising themselves as their very pregnant mother in order to visit their very sick grandmother in the hospital it could seen here.
- Julia Roberts' character in Ocean's Twelve is coerced into doing this so she can pretend to be Julia Roberts...wait...
- Angelina Jolie does it in the movie Taking Lives, though she uses a more convincing prosthetic to convince Ethan Hawke that she's eight months pregnant with his child, so that he'll think she's unable to fight back when he attacks her. In the end, she shoots him dead, and then finally removes the prosthetic to show the audience that she had been faking her pregnancy for nine whole months, simply to bait him. This also creates an opportunity for a particularly disturbing Kick the Dog moment on the part of Ethan Hawke's character, who stabs her "pregnant" belly with a pair of scissors, evidently willing to kill her even though he believed her pregnant with his own twins...
- In the film The Cooler, Mikey and Charlene make use of this trope. They extract money from Bernie, and later Charlene attempts to stop a fight by pretending to go into labor.
- The underrated Lindsay Lohan film Labor Pains features the main character doing this with one of her couch cushions, in front of a room full of baby shower guests who until that moment had thought she was genuinely pregnant.
- In the movie Young Doctors in Love, a prostitute named Julie uses a balloon to fake her pregnancy (she was making Heel–Face Turn out of the business), but a Jerkass doctor pops it in a Kick the Dog moment.
- Done by Jessica Alba's character in the movie P.U.N.K.S..
- Briefly done for a gag in Brain Donors. Literal ambulance chaser Roland T. Flakfizer arrives at the scene of a minor car accident and sees a woman passenger. He immediately sticks an instant-inflating pillow under her dress and starts loudly yelling about the liability costs.
- In The Sure Thing, the risks of over-doing the fakery are lampshaded:
Allison: What do you think - nine months?Gib: (pulls out one of the pillows) More like fifteen.
- Frances McDormand wore a pregnancy suit while shooting Fargo because her character Marge was heavily pregnant, and remarked that the extra weight and bulk really helped her get into character.
- In Secret Ceremony, Cenci (Mia Farrow) play-acts at being pregnant by stuffing a plush toy frog under her dress.
- Done in the film Tulip Fever by a wealthy woman who wants to help her unwed servant girl avoid public disgrace and provide her husband with an heir.
- Narrow Margin (1990). On the run from mob killers, the female protagonist sticks her hands in the pockets of her jacket and pushes it out to make herself look pregnant, so Gene Hackman's character can talk an elderly couple into giving up their private cabin so they can hide out of sight.
- Short story "Golden Girl" by Ellis Peters. While a pregnant woman is taking a sea voyage, the ship is damaged and starts to sink. After the woman puts on a life jacket, one of the ship's officers drops her into the sea so she can be rescued by nearby boats. Much to his surprise, she sinks straight to the bottom. It turns out that she had been smuggling 30 pounds of gold bars in the padding under her maternity smock.
- V. C. Andrews:
- In Garden of Shadows, Olivia Foxworth must stuff her clothes with a progressively larger series of pillows to make it appear that she really is pregnant, so the servants don't realize that the baby who is about to join the family is really the result of her husband Malcolm raping his stepmother.
- Also done in the Logan Series in Olivia, where Olivia Logan (no relation to Olivia Foxworth) does this so that she can pass off her sister's illegitimate child as her own.
- Sara has one in the Artifacts Of Power series by Maggie Furey.
- A variant was also used in the Monk novel Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, when Monk and Natalie go shopping at a department store in one scene and end up busting a shoplifting ring. Natalie has a small run-in with a pregnant woman who snatches a blouse she intended to get for Julie. The pregnant woman drops her purse and immediately walks off. Then Monk busts the first shoplifter: an elderly guy smuggling things out of the store in an oxygen tank. Then one of the store security guards asks Monk if there's anyone else they need to be aware of, and Monk mentions a pregnant woman who is not pregnant. Knowing that said woman is faking it, Natalie tackles her, causing her tummy pack to burst open, and she gets back the blouse she wanted. Natalie then asks Monk how he figured it out and Monk points out that she bent over at her waist to pick up her purse, which would be impossible if she was in her third trimester. Also, she was walking like a normal person and not waddling as a result of the weight displacement.
- Along with cutting and dying her hair, the heroine of Safe Haven employs this to disguise her appearance when she flees her abusive husband.
Live Action TV
- On Friends, Monica has decided to shoplift a blue sweater as her "something blue" and "something borrowed." She shoves it up her blouse and has a quick maternal moment.
- Subverted in the The Drew Carey Show "What's Wrong With This Episode?", where Kate and Lewis both (supposedly) have a Pillow Pregnancy, but in reality Christa Miller is actually pregnant, and is pulling a Hide Your Pregnancy.
- Done in an early season where Kate's Pillow Pregnancy was actually her way of smuggling beer into a professional wrestling event. Leading to a humorous case of a professional wrestler telling her she shouldn't drink when pregnant.
- A similar stunt was pulled on Kate And Allie in The '80s, to hide Susan St. James' pregnancy by stuffing Jane Curtin to match in one episode. (They justified it by making it a flashback episode to when the title characters were pregnant with their daughters.)
- An episode of FX had criminals try robbing a gold depository, and threaten to shoot a pregnant woman. She was released by the criminals later, only for her to report the police activity on the ground. They eventually discover that she wasn't pregnant using thermal imaging, but only after the newsreporter said it wasn't necessary and could be told by how she was walking.
- On Desperate Housewives, Bree uses a fake belly to convince her friends she's pregnant rather than admit that it's really her teenage daughter who's pregnant. She even passes the child off as her own for a bit but when Edie finds out and tries to blackmail her, Bree confesses the truth to her friends, who forgive her.
- An episode of The A-Team had Murdock posing as a pregnant woman (long story). Instead of a pillow, Murdock's "baby" was a bag filled with dynamite.
- An episode of M*A*S*H had Klinger try this in yet another attempt to get out of the Army. Col. Blake didn't buy it for a second.
- An episode of Kenan & Kel has them attempt to speak to someone in a hospital. To get in they use this trope to disguise Kel as a pregnant woman going into labor. This finally leads to the line:
"Congratulations, you've given birth to a lovely fluffy pillow."
- This occurs in an episode of Operation Repo, in which a woman fakes being pregnant, even going so far as to fake going into labor, in order to keep her car from being repossessed. When her ruse was found out, the Repo team was not happy.
- In the "Harlem Globetrotters" episode of TV Funhouse, the team accidentally travels back to the first Christmas, where they decide to play Mary, Joseph and some others in a game of basketball for who gets the inn as opposed to who sleeps in the barn. Naturally, the Globetrotters PWN the Bethlehem players until Baby Jesus is born, after which he begins defeating the Globetrotters with his miracle powers. Meadowlark then gets one of his brilliant ideas, and takes a hint from Mary by pulling a Pillow Pregnancy with the basketball under his shirt, in order to sneak past and score the winning basket.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service", to further a murder investigation, Natalie has to go to a party hosted by Paul Buchanan, who had stalked her in high school. To discourage Buchanan's attempted advances, she stuffs a pillow under her shirt and pretends to be pregnant.
- Making it even more interesting: Natalie's actress Traylor Howard actually was pregnant during filming of this episode and the second half of season 5 as a whole. For most of her scenes in the other episodes, including the scenes where she isn't passing herself off as pregnant, they shot her with special camera angles to hide her lower body, such as having her stand behind an open car door, sitting down at Captain Stottlemeyer's desk, etc. By writing in a faked pregnancy for the plot, the producers were able to shoot Natalie's scenes after she shows up at the Buchanan house the same they'd shoot any other episode.
- In a deleted scene from Firefly, River, in one of her crazier moments, uses a pillow to pretend to be pregnant... so Book can marry her to Simon.
- Infamously, Terri on Glee fakes a pregnancy for months on her husband by doing this (and not allowing him anywhere near her).
- MythBusters: Kari Byron announced her pregnancy with a short video on the Discovery website. Grant had a hard hat stuffed under his shirt to provide fake bump, and Tory had a ball under his. Kari's bump was real.
- An episode of The Muppet Show had Miss Piggy singing "Waiting At The Church" while apparently heavily pregnant. At the end, Kermit asks her if she's going to take that silly pillow from under her dress.
- The episode "Better Than Life" of Red Dwarf features Rimmer's wife pregnant in a VR simulation. In the outtakes, she blows a line and says "Sorry my pregnancy fell out"
- An early challenge on season 6 of Project Runway was to make a maternity outfit. However, instead of designing for real pregnant women, the designers designed for their regular models wearing a pillow. Some of them did not look convincingly pregnant.
- On Arrested Development, Maggie Lizer is supposed to be a surrogate mother, but after she couldn't get pregnant she delegates it and pretends to carry the baby with a realistic false belly.
- CSI NY did this with a shoplifter, who got the items out of the store by putting them inside her clothes and making herself look pregnant. Stella and Danny have a bit of fun with her, admiring how her ankles haven't swollen at all and how she's still able to wear heels. When Danny causes two stolen items fall out of her shirt by knocking on her stomach, Stella congratulates her on twins.
- Done in Good Luck Charlie when Amy and Teddy go to a restaurant to get some salad dressing that supposedly induces labor (Amy was a few weeks late on her latest pregnancy). Teddy managed to sneak into the restaurant's kitchen and steal the dressing then tried to tuck it underneath her shirt as if she too was pregnant. Unfortunately one of the employees found her out straight away.
- The Bill. A pregnant woman working in a car factory is smuggling out spare parts for resale. She overdoes it by remaining 'pregnant' for ten months.
"Congratulations. You've just given birth to a bouncy brake pad."
- Done in Hardcore Pawn, where a woman had a pad strapped around her chest to make herself look pregnant and fed Ashley a sob story. Trying to be nice, she sold the woman a rocking horse for half off and told her to come back after she had the baby to possibly get a job. The pad fell off in the parking lot while they were loading the rocking horse in her truck.
- Employed by the handful of Soap Opera women determined to carry their Fake Pregnancy to term:
- On Days of Our Lives, Kristen padded her clothing after miscarrying John's baby, fearful that he would leave her otherwise.
- On Passions, Beth does a variation of this in an attempt to lure Luis away from Sheridan, who actually was pregnant (although in the latter's case, it was not known if either he or his brother, Antonio, whom she was married to at the time, was the father of the unborn child.) What method did Beth end up using instead of a big, fluffy pillow? A bag of sugar, which at some point was even burst open in the middle of an obstetrician's office. Oddly enough, although Luis was once concerned about why the baby wasn't kicking in her stomach when he placed his hand on her belly, he never did figure out that the pregnancy was fake.
- One Life to Live's Alex does this, coming up with medical excuses as to why she and husband Carlo can't have sex and why he can't come to the doctor with her. Ex-husband Asa finds out what she's up to and rips off her dress in public, literally exposing her secret.
- A humorous version on General Hospital, when Luke and Laura returned to town and needed an excuse as to why they were speeding. When they were inevitably pulled over, Laura pretended to be in labor.
- In the Lifetime Movie of the Week "The Baby Snatcher", a woman employs this in a desperate attempt to keep her husband from leaving her. As her due date approaches, she tries to legitimately adopt a baby before finally resorting to kidnapping one. (This is Based on a True Story. In fact,it's one of Joe Kenda's cases)
- In the music video for Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing", a man dresses in full drag as a very pregnant woman for his shoplifting trip to the grocery store.
- A sketch in The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979) starring Eleanor Bron and Peter Cook has this trope as the point of the joke. She seems to think she's really pregnant, he can tell right away that she's not.
- Doll Tearsheet is accused of this in Henry IV Part 2. Productions that don't cut the scene entirely sometimes imply that she is actually pregnant (after all, she is seen to be suffering from nausea in her first appearance).
- Funny Girl plays this for comic and not deceptive effect. Fanny Brice is cast in the Ziegfeld Follies as the bridal star of the grand finale "His Love Makes Me Beautiful." However, Fanny thinks she's far too ugly for any man to sing about her rapturous beauty, so she plays the number for laughs by sticking a pillow under the belly of the wedding dress she's wearing, and singing to match.
- In Errant Story, Meji once sneaked out of a guarded city by pretending to be pregnant. Her 'belly', however, actually contained her snarky, flying cat familiar, Ellis. Meanwhile, Ian dressed like a priest and persuaded the guards to let her through, doing a cover-up.note
- In this El Goonish Shive strip and the next, Lisa pretends to be pregnant with Amanda's baby using a pregnancy sympathy suit just to mess with her.
- In Drowtales it turns out that Zala'ess Vel'Sharen was doing this during her negotiations with Quain'tana, with the suggestion that it served a dual purpose of making her look good (as drow culturally value motherhood immensely) and as a dig against Quain, who's infertile and very sore on the subject. It also saves Zala's life when a would-be assassin attempts to stab her there and hits the pillow instead, leaving her unharmed.
- In an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara dons this guise to pretend to be "Sapphire Fire" [Sokka's "wife" and Aang's "mother"].
- In a newer episode of Spongebob Squarepants, Mr. Krabs attempts this when he steals money from an arcade with Gary. He pulls it off until Spongebob arrives.
- In G.I. Joe: Renegades, Scarlett—after a pair of failed Bavarian Fire Drills—poses as a trailer-trash babymama to infiltrate a prison that Duke is in.
- According to Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S., the fake pregnancy is a classic con: usually going that a girl pads herself up and then pretends that she wants to put the "baby" up for adoption, getting whoever wants to adopt the baby to pay her in advance (possibly multiple couples at once!). She then runs off, never to be heard from again.
- British War Correspondent Kate Adie wryly describes in her autobiography avoided a stop off in Argentina during the Falklands War by pretending that she was pregnant with the aid of one of her male colleagues and a cushion.
- High school projects:
- Another example is Erin McGaw, who faked being pregnant for a school project. She fooled everyone for three months, until her teacher pulled the plug.
- Another high school girl, Gabby Rodriguez, carried out a similar project - eventually earning the attention of national television and getting her a book deal.
- The Monk example up above is very much true for shoplifting and drug smuggling. However, the version in which someone guts a real baby and stuffs it full of bags of coke is still merely an Urban Legend.
- Also true for some baby thieves; unable to have children of their own, they fake pregnancies and then kidnap a baby at about the right time, fooling people around them into thinking the new child is actually theirs—the Lifetime Movie of the Week cited in the TV section is Based on a True Story and is in fact one of the Homicide Hunter's (Lieutenant Joe Kenda) cases.
- There have been a few cases where it gets much worse, and women have murdered and cut open actual pregnant women to steal their unborn children.