Follow TV Tropes


Late Pregnancy Realization

Go To
Her fetus is facepalming right now.
Sometimes the Law of Inverse Fertility hits so hard that the woman doesn't even realize she's pregnant until she's close to going into labor (and sometimes not even then). Cries of "But I Can't Be Pregnant!" and "how could I have missed this?" ensue. For whatever reason, when they do notice before giving birth, it isn't the lack of periods or Morning Sickness that tips them off, but rather the baby bump and Wacky Cravings. It seems that heroines just don't keep track of their monthlies. Cue Babies Make Everything Better!

Note that this isn't just "character finds out about an unexpected pregnancy". This is for when a character finds out about a pregnancy when they should have already noticed that they were pregnant. As such, examples where the character is only in their first trimester are not allowed, since most women don't immediately figure out that they're pregnant until they're well into their first trimester. Additionally, morning sickness is a symptom that typically happens early in the pregnancy, so if the person is showing that, then they're likely in their first trimester and not an example of this. Miscarriages also typically happen in the first trimester, so having one of these isn't a "late realization", either.

Also, it should be clear that the woman is in the later stages of pregnancy. If it's not stated how far along she is and there aren't any symptoms of her being in the later stages of pregnancy (which includes a noticeable baby bump or going into labor), then it's probably one of the other Pregnancy Tropes.

Oddly enough, this does occasionally happen in Real Life. The medical term for such events is cryptic pregnancy, and causes range from the woman being in denial about her pregnancy to the woman simply not showing during her pregnancy.

Contrast with My Secret Pregnancy, where the mother knows, but keeps it a secret from the world at large. May be justified in the case of a Mystical Pregnancy or a Mister Seahorse situation. A novel way to ensure that Good Girls Avoid Abortion, by making it too late for them to seek an abortion. Subtrope of Surprise Pregnancy.

All spoilers are unmarked.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Kunio Murai's mother didn't realize the implications of her sudden weight gain at first.
  • In Kodocha Sana's biological mom Keiko actually didn't know she was preggers until she gave birth. Somewhat more understandable in the manga, where Sana's birth happened when Keiko was 14 (she's still very young in the anime, but not THAT young), and it's strongly implied that Sana is also a Child by Rape and the result of sexual abuse by Keiko's uncle.

  • Aisling Bea has a story about going to the hospital with severe stomach pains, and being afraid that she was about to go into labor.
    The worst part of the whole situation was that the doctor in A&E was really, really handsome. And I just — I think that doctors who are handsome should be struck off, I really do... I mean, how could I tell him that I thought I was having a surprise baby, or else I was waiting for a poo? I couldn't, you know — "And once we find out which one it is, do you want to go for a drink?"

    Comic Books 
  • Concrete: Neither Concrete nor Maureen, the biologist who studies him, even suspect he's pregnant until his back cracks open and there's a smaller him inside, despite him getting symptoms similar to humans like morning sickness and being even moodier than he normally is. Justified because not only is Concrete's body alien, but the baby was a result of asexual reproduction (though said reproduction was triggered by human sexual thoughts). Concrete's body is still in many ways a mystery, and everyone thinks of Concrete as being male as he was once a man.
  • Exaggerated in The Umbrella Academy, when 43 women who hadn't been pregnant to begin with suddenly all give birth all the same time with no warning, right in the middle of whatever it was they had been doing at the time.

    Fan Works 
  • In An Acceptable Arrangement, Hou Yue didn't realize she was pregnant until her older son, resting his head on her stomach, feels the baby kick and tells her off for poking him. This is midway through her fifth month.
  • In the The Secret Show fanfic Hang-On, it doesn't become obvious to Anita that she's pregnant until she goes into labor.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug fanfic How to Announce a Pregnancy opens with Marinette learning that she's four and a half months pregnant. Justified in that she's been insanely busy and isn't showing yet (and isn't expected to show much, if at all) due to stomach muscles strengthened from superheroing.
  • In the Star Trek (2009) fanfic Kirk Starts A Family Aboard The Enterprise, Kirk discovers while undergoing a routine physical in Sick Bay aboard the Enterprise that the reason for his apparent weight gain is that he's pregnant. Kirk decides to continue performing his duties while he's pregnant.
  • It's mentioned in Kill la Kill AU that Ragyou's pregnancy with Satsuki was this, as she didn't find out that she was carrying until she was showing.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero: In her backstory, it took a while for Akane to realize she was pregnant with Kyon due to a mix of ignorance and her lack of physical growth, compounded by a Friendless Background and a strained relationship with her parents.
  • In My Pain, My Thrill, Peach didn't even know she was pregnant until three years after she gave birth. She had no clue that Bowser could impregnate her and she had no signs of being pregnant. As a result, the pregnancy came out as a surprise for both of them. Peach fell into a coma before giving birth and Bowser hid it from her afterwards, purposely avoiding her and denying Jr's claims that Peach is his mother. Peach ends up figuring it out herself after talking to Bowser Jr and noticing their shared genetic trait.
  • Surprise Delivery by Katieykat513 has Ladybug going into labor without even realizing she was pregnant. The result is her and Chat Noir learning each other's identities... along with a few of the hospital personnel (who assure them they'll keep it a secret.
    Have you been stressed or fatigued lately…” Dr. Prince stopped his question when he remembered who he was talking to as they both gave him a look that said, what do you think? “Right then. Forget I asked that question.
  • In the Teen Titans fic Timing is Everything, Raven doesn't realize she is pregnant until two months after conception, which, due to her demonic blood, means she is almost halfway through. When she finally goes to Cyborg for a medical checkup, he notes it's quite obvious she is pregnant. It's just that she tended to blame processed food since a pregnancy was impossible for her; a half-demon can only be impregnated by a demon, and Beast Boy isn't one (apparently, his shapeshifting powers provided a loophole).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It's unclear whether or not she knew about it, but Addams Family Values starts with Morticia announcing that she's going to have a baby... right now, and being rushed to the hospital for delivery. (The surprise is only within the context of this movie, though, as the Sequel Hook of the previous one had her wordlessly announcing said pregnancy by knitting baby-sized pajamas.)
  • The Blue Lagoon (1980): Emmeline becomes pregnant with Richard's child and has no clue whatsoever until after she's given birth. She even tells Richard she doesn't know why she had a baby. Justified due to them having been living on the island since they were children and having no formal sex education whatsoever.
  • The new cute swimming instructor in Water Boys discovers she's eight months pregnant and goes on maternity leave immediately after managing to convince her five team members to throw away their pride and join her synchro-swimming team for her.

  • There's a grammar joke that goes like this — the joke being that the periods after each "sex" are menstrual periods.
    Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex (Oh, Crap!)
  • What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant? "Is it mine?"

  • Bluestar in Bluestar's Prophecy, thanks to her one-night stand with Oakheart. She is unaware of her pregnancy until another cat points it out.
  • In Dancing on the Edge, it's mentioned that protagonist Miracle's mother wasn't aware she was pregnant since it barely showed until the later months, and since she, as a dancer, was already very thin and implied to be anorexic she wasn't tipped off by her missed periods.
  • In the satirical "legend" of Pope Joan, a woman went to Catholic school disguised as a boy and worked her way through the ecclesiastic ranks to Cardinal and finally Pope. Her cover was blown when she put her foot in the stirrup to mount her horse and promptly gave birth before a shocked audience.
  • Daisy's mother in The Stone Diaries is unaware that she's pregnant until she goes into labor while making dinner for her husband. She gives birth on the kitchen floor and promptly dies of eclampsia.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bump is about a promising teenage swimmer, Oly, who gives birth without knowing she was pregnant - and she got pregnant by cheating on her boyfriend.
  • Doctor Who has a very fantastical example in season 6 of the revived series: Amy Pond does not realize she's pregnant until delivery, because she's unknowingly been piloting a not-pregnant remote body around for the duration.
  • Sonia Branning on EastEnders didn't know she was pregnant with her daughter Rebecca until she went into labor. Bear in mind that Sonia was only 15 at the time.
  • ER: A fat woman complaining of severe cramps goes into the ER and not only realizes that she is pregnant, but that she is giving birth to twins. (Her family thought her lack of periods was menopause.) Dr. Benton has to deliver the baby — something he "hadn't done since med school."
  • Hollyoaks: Tegan didn't know she was pregnant with Rose until the actual day.
  • House:
    • During one of his much-loathed clinic visits, House meets a woman who wants to know why she's been feeling sick and can't seem to lose weight. House later explains that she has a "parasite", which he can't legally remove after a month. She expresses disbelief since she's been using birth control.
      Woman: And my doctor said I might not get any periods at all if it was working...
      House: Interestingly enough, you also don't get any periods if it isn't working.
    • In "Joy to the World", an engaged Christian woman doesn't realize that she is pregnant until House tells her and denies recognizing the symptoms. Even then, she doesn't believe him because she claims she and her fiancé never had sex. House fakes that it was a virgin birth to cover up for her cheating.
    • Also in "Joy to the World", The Patient of the Week, Natalie, never realized she was pregnant until she gave birth, due to her weight concealing the baby bump. She abandoned the baby in a deserted house.
  • This is the main premise of the Docu Soap I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, which shows cases of women who discovered they were pregnant several months later, mostly getting the shocking news that the pain they suffer is because the baby is coming. Justified because most of the women on the TV show are overweight (which can conceal a bump/movement), on birth control (one even having her tubes tied), irregular cycles, uterine conditions, or had other conditions that pregnancy symptoms can mimic (like being stressed).
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Taboo", Ella claims to have had this happen to her twice, due to her being so deep in denial about her pregnancies that she developed postpartum psychosis and believed that she dumped her second baby in the trash, and abandoned the corpse of her first baby. While she was lying about not having known she gave birth, and she deliberately killed her babies, she was in denial about being pregnant.
  • This happened to Peggy Olsen in Mad Men, such that she didn't know until she went into labor.
  • Parodied on Mock the Week, in a round of "Unlikely Agony Aunt Letters."
    Holly Walsh: [very pregnant] Dear Deirdre, why does semen make you fat?
  • Linda in My Mad Fat Diary mortifies her daughter by dramatically oversharing in front of Rae and her friends that she is going through "The change", which turns out to be pregnancy midway through series 2.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Maritza got pregnant and never realized for seven months. Given she's all of 5 feet 2 inches, Flaca finds this to be baffling.
    Flaca: How could you not know? You weigh like 90 pounds. You musta looked like an egg with four sticks in it.
    Maritza: I'm not a scientist, okay? Besides, I was smoking a lot of pot that summer.
  • Parodied in a sketch on Saturday Night Live, which had Ana Gasteyer (who was actually pregnant at the time) appear in a commercial for a pregnancy test, wondering if she was pregnant despite very clearly being in her third trimester.
  • Scream Queens (2015) kicks off with a flashback to 20 years in the past, where sorority pledge Sophia Doyle has just given birth in a bathtub. She insists to her angry sorority sisters that she didn't even know she was pregnant, thinking she had just gained the Freshman 15 which, while already ridiculous, becomes even more ridiculous when it's revealed she had twins]. Her Death by Childbirth becomes the Plot-Triggering Death of the series.
  • In the episode "Hearts" of St. Elsewhere, an overweight woman named Gina Barnett comes into St. Eligius complaining of stomach pains. Upon examining her, Dr. Armstrong discovers that she is not only pregnant but about to give birth. Prior to this, Gina had no idea that she was pregnant. After the baby is born, she abandons it in the hospital as she can't afford to raise a child because she is already taking care of her invalid father.
  • WandaVision: At the end of the second episode, Wanda and Vision are very surprised to find that Wanda suddenly seems to be six months pregnant. Justified as it's a Mystical Pregnancy and she gives birth just hours later in the third episode.
  • Happens in Whitechapel (TV Series) when DS Miles's wife fears she might have ovarian cancer only for it to turn out she's six months pregnant.

  • In the stage play E/R (the basis for the 1984 sitcom, not the 90's drama), a mother brings her teenage daughter into the hospital emergency room, complaining of "stomach cramps". The girl continues to deny she's pregnant even as she's giving birth.
  • Played for Laughs in the stage musical of Matilda: Mrs. Wormwood is shocked to learn that she's pregnant, despite the fact that she 1. is nine months in, 2. is showing heavily, and 3. has been pregnant once before.

  • In Puck's first post-Time Skip comics, Puck completely misses signs she's pregnant, ignoring her Wacky Cravings and morning sickness and attributing her increased bust size to providence. Her boyfriend Colin and adopted daughter Daphne don't know if she's in denial or legitimately oblivious. Played With in that we find out later Puck is suffering from a mild case of retrograde amnesia after she fainted and hit her head after a positive pregnancy test. As far as she knows, all the symptoms simply appeared one day.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • In the CollegeHumor sketch "POV: What Every Girl Sees at a Gyno Appointment," a young woman goes to the gynecologist for the first time ever. She sees pregnant women in the waiting room and worries that she may be pregnant. During the examination, the doctor takes out all these scary instruments, including a welder's torch, and tinkers around down there. The girl thinks it's because the doctor can tell she's lying about using condoms every time. It turns out the doctor was burning away HPV lesions, and delivering a baby.

    Western Animation 
  • In Family Guy, Peter looks up one of his old girlfriends; and is surprised to find that since he last saw her she's become very ugly and even fatter than he is. While they're talking, a baby plops out from between her legs, surprising them both. She then yells to her offscreen husband, "You were right! I was pregnant!"

    Real Life 
  • This used to be the norm before the Modern Age. Seasonal access to food, poorer healthcare, multiple pregnancies, and longer period of breastfeeding for children (sometimes up to 3 years) — all of this meant that a woman could go months without having her period and not think anything about it until she felt the baby move.
  • This can happen in real life, in several ways:
    • When they're near menopause, women's periods can become erratic, making them more difficult to track. Additionally, some of the symptoms of menopause line up with the symptoms of pregnancy (such as weight gain and mood swings). Couple this with the fact that menopause takes time and doesn't occur at the same age for every woman, and older women can easily not notice that they're pregnant until they're in labor.
    • Similarly, some younger women can have health issues like PCOS that make fertility either unlikely or erratic, and certain women just don't get periods (usually due to being abnormally underweight or abnormally overweight), making it easier for them to not notice that they're pregnant until they're well along. And some women just have erratic menstrual cycles anyways, especially in the case of a Teenage Pregnancy (due to teenagers usually having just started menstruating).
    • Not all women know how pregnancy happens (due to either ignorance or an absence of sex education) and simply don't know the details surrounding pregnancy.
    • Even for young, healthy, well-educated women, pregnancy can end up a surprise. Sometimes implantation of the embryo can cause minor bleeding and the woman could mistake that for her regular period.Explanation Or the woman could simply just not keep close track of her periods, relying on the warning signs to keep from making a mess. And, in rare cases, the woman could keep having periods right through the pregnancy.
    • Some methods of birth control "turn off" periods for extended lengths of time, which can make it very easy to miss the fact that a woman is pregnant until she's well along the way. Certain types of IUDs (intrauterine devices) are notorious for this.
    • Many of the "classic" symptoms of pregnancy (lack of periods, morning sickness, weight gain, mood swings) could be mistaken as symptoms of other things, such as stress or (as mentioned above) menopause. Additionally, it's possible for a woman to go through a pregnancy without having most or even all of the symptoms of pregnancy, though this is rare.
    • Women with morbid obesity may not notice they have a baby bump until late in their pregnancy, if at all.
  • Many women's magazines have Truth in Television versions of this trope on a fairly regular basis. Multiple women have reported giving birth while on the toilet (such as a teenage girl who had ovulated but not had a period before; another was a woman who, due to how the baby was positioned, didn't at all look as though she was pregnant), having to then cope with the shock of it and having to break the news to their loved ones.
  • In 2012, there was news of a woman who did not know she was pregnant until she gave birth... in the middle of an Afghanistan war zone. After serving as a bombardier in battle. So she qualifies for Pregnant Badass, even if she hadn't been aware of it. This is somewhat understandable, given that the normal signs of pregnancy (lack of periods, stomach pains, vomiting) can be chalked up to the stress of battle.
  • In the late 1990s, a woman made the Seattle news after she went to the hospital with terrible stomach pains and delivered a healthy 6-pound baby girl several hours later. As her periods had always been light and irregular, and she continued to spot throughout the pregnancy and had no baby bump at all, she had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth.
  • In one case, a woman didn't know she was pregnant until after she had given birth. The woman had a then-undiagnosed condition that caused her to have two uteruses, and as a result, she didn't stop having periods because of the second uterus. Before she gave birth, she began suffering from seizures due to a condition called preeclampsia, and while she was being driven to the hospital a bump in her belly was noticed for the first time. The woman was put into a medically induced coma, and the baby was removed by C-section. She didn't wake up until three days later, and she initially thought there was a mistake when the nurse brought the baby to her.
  • In 1939, a five-year-old girl named Lina Medina was brought to the hospital in her village of Ticrapo, Peru, for what her parents thought was a large abdominal tumor. It was soon found that she was pregnant, and she was transferred to a hospital in Lima for a C-section. She had been having periods since she was about 3 years old, and her reproductive organs were as developed as one would expect in someone 10 years older than her. Her father was temporarily jailed on suspicion of incest, but there wasn't enough evidence against him, and Lina wouldn't say who had done this to her.
  • A Nevada woman gave birth just one day after finding out she was pregnant. She'd mistaken the symptoms for signs of menopause, had lost twenty pounds while pregnant, and hadn't developed a baby bump at all.