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Pillow Pregnancy

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[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 a pregnant woman in a trench coat.

Subtrope of Fake Pregnancy. A form of Obfuscating Disability. Compare Fake Boobs.


    open/close all folders 

  • 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".
  • A 2005 Canadian home pregnancy test commercial had four twenty-something year old women pregnant and posing with their bellies. Whereas the first three women eventually pulled out a balloon, a ball and a pillow from underneath their tops, the fourth woman lifted her shirt to show she was the real deal.
  • A common trope in Mobile Ads for games with royalty or harem themes that depict a woman trying to one-up her romantic rival by stuffing a pillow under her dress, only to be caught out and punished by the irate king. Game of Sultans is a repeat offender.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the first episode of Cowboy Bebop, "Asteroid Blues", 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Mary-Maria uses this to smuggle a pair of guns into Area 51 in Archer & Armstrong. "It's twins."

    Comic Strips 
  • 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."
  • Jump Start (Robb Armstrong): Marcy, very pregnant and tired, arrives at her mother's house and asks her to "take the kids for a while." In the next panel, Maureen seems to be pregnant instead. She shows Clayton, admits it's just a pillow, and explains it's her way of "babysitting" to give Marcy a sense of relief from carrying twins. He's skeptical, though:
    Clayton: Ya think it'll work?
    [outside, in a park]
    Woman: What on earth was that?
    Man: An extremely pregnant lady whizzing by on rollerblades.
  • On the Fastrack
    • Chelonia's twin brother Mark once disguised himself as her, trying to hide after losing his company. As she is pregnant at this time, Mark imitates her pregnancy with a weather balloon under a maternity dress.
      Chelonia: [irritated] You simulated my pregnancy with a weather balloon?
      Mark: I couldn't detach the car's air bag.
    • Dethany requests to her hovering mother Ann, who is visiting soon, that she not look up any information on her before coming, wanting to tell her things she doesn't already know. When Ann arrives, Dethany greets her with a distended belly... only to pull out a pillow and reveal she was kidding.
    • Dethany later pulls a similar joke on Rose, this time using a light-up jack-o-lantern (it's around Halloween time). She says it's to scare her mom.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Baby Mama, Angie invests in a prosthetic belly when another pregnant woman points out that they're equally far along, but Angie isn't showing. The fact that this makes her go from a flat stomach to a hugely round one overnight goes unremarked upon. And since it turns out she actually was pregnant anyway, it turns out to be unnecessary.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Funny Girl, Fanny Bryce has a pillow in her dress to make her appear pregnant while singing a song about how incredibly sexy and desirable she is. She had felt uncomfortable singing such a thing seriously, so she did it as a parody instead, and there's a scene of her removing the pillow backstage while all her costars laugh hysterically.
  • The underrated Lindsay Lohan film Labor Pains (2009) 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.
  • Narrow Margin: 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.
  • Not Cool: The main characters try to shoplift a watermelon from the grocery store by having Tori put it under her shirt and pretend to be pregnant, only for Tori to trip and fall on the way out, splattering the melon and sending everyone in the store into horrified screaming fits.
  • Julia Roberts's character in Ocean's Twelve is coerced into doing this so she can pretend to be Julia Roberts... wait...
  • Done by Jessica Alba's character in the movie P.U.N.K.S..
  • SAS: Rise of the Black Swan: There's a woman sweeping the leaves at the gate of the mansion the SAS are about to raid who claims to be six months pregnant. She turns out to be a guard wearing a belly pouch, a Bulletproof Vest and an automatic weapon under her coat.
  • In Secret Ceremony, Cenci (Mia Farrow) play-acts at being pregnant by stuffing a plush toy frog under her dress.
  • In The Sure Thing, the risks of over-doing the fakery are noted:
    Allison: What do you think — nine months?
    Gib: [pulls out one of the pillows] More like fifteen.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
    • In the Landry Series novel Tarnished Gold, Gabrielle Landry is raped by Octavius Tate, whose wife wants to fake a pregnancy in order to pretend the baby is hers. She insists on making it look as authentic as possible by periodically measuring Gabrielle to determine how many pillows to use.
  • In Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi, protagonist Shibata impulsively lies at work that she's pregnant, just to get a break from her relentless duties. She then spends the next seven months faking a pregnancy with pillows and padding under her jacket; using an app to guide her as to what size she should expect to be. She gets away with it, takes maternity leave, and returns to work with the excuse of having a child to get out of overtime.
  • In the 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.
  • If Life is a Bowl of Cherries -- What Am I Doing in the Pits?: An unintentional example appears in "Fashions and Fads that Underwhelmed Me". Erma wearing a pillow stomach (for girls who want a healthy appearance) caused two men to give up their seats and lift her into them and another to call the police to report a woman in labor. Consequently, the "stomach" was retired to the couch.
  • 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 dyeing her hair, the heroine of Safe Haven employs this to disguise her appearance when she flees her abusive husband.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • In the episode "The Jimmy-Jab Games", the cops play a game where they go undercover and talk to as many people as possible without being recognized. Amy dresses as a pregnant woman using a pillow, but her cover is blown when she accidentally moves it to the side.
    • In the episode "Maximum Security", Amy again goes undercover as a pregnant inmate in a women's prison. Unlike the previous time, Amy's actress actually was pregnant in real life.
  • One episode of Call the Midwife has a mother pull this in preparation for a planned Family Relationship Switcheroo involving the child of her pregnant teenaged daughter.
  • 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.
  • On Days of Our Lives, Kristen padded her clothing after miscarrying John's baby, fearful that he would leave her otherwise.
  • 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.
  • The Drew Carey Show:
    • Done by Kate in an early season, 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.
    • In "What's Wrong with This Episode?", Kate and Lewis both (supposedly) have a Pillow Pregnancy; in reality, however, Christa Miller is actually pregnant and is pulling a Hide Your Pregnancy.
  • 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.
  • In 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, to which her fiance remarks "One thing at a time".
  • Full House:
    • Toyed with in the episode "Rock the Cradle". Rebecca is already pregnant when she puts a pillow under her pajamas.
      Jesse: Whoa! This baby thing happened a lot faster than I thought!
      Becky: Honey, will you still love me when I look like this?
      Jesse: 'Course. It'll be great, too, 'cause I'll have a place to set my popcorn when we watch TV.
    • In the episode "The Volunteer", it's a "pad" instead of a "pillow", but the trope applies all the same otherwise. Rebecca has Jesse strapping a pad around his waist to get him to truly understand what being pregnant is like.
  • An episode of FX had criminals try robbing a gold depository and threaten to shoot a pregnant woman. She is released by the criminals later, only for her to report the police activity on the ground. They eventually discover that she isn't pregnant using thermal imaging, but only after the news reporter said it wasn't necessary and could be told by how she was walking.
  • 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.
  • Infamously, Terri on Glee fakes a pregnancy for months on her husband by doing this (and not allowing him anywhere near her).
  • From The Goes Wrong Show:
    • In "The Lodge", Vanessa plays a pregnant woman, so she has a balloon stuck up her shirt. It bursts every time she or someone else touches her belly. At one point it gets out and floats tethered alongside her as her character moves around the set—and it's also a bright blue that shows through her pajama shirt when she gets a chance to put it back.
    • In "The Nativity", Sandra plays the Virgin Mary and has a bowling ball stuffed beneath her costume, with little effort made to obscure its spherical shape. The ball also falls out onto other characters' toes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A similar stunt was pulled on Kate & 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 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."
  • The Legend Of Love, a TVB period drama based on The Cowherd and Weaver Girl (but given quite a bit of Adaptational Expansion) have the chapter where the Weaver Girl, Zhi-nu, has to fake a pregnancy to be accepted into the Cowherd Ngau-long's family, with some help from her bestie, the fairy Xi-er who disguises herself as a doctor.
    Xi-er: [showing Zhi-nu three cushions of different sizes] You can use this for three months. This is for five. And this one's for seven.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Muppet Show: In the John Cleese episode, Miss Piggy sings "Waiting At the Church" while dressed as a jilted, pregnant bride.
    Kermit: [at the end of the number] Now will you take that silly pillow out from under your dress?
    Miss Piggy: [fiercely] I like it!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 is found out, the Repo team is not happy.
  • 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.
  • Used in a chapter of Princess Huai Yu, a Taiwanese drama series set in Manchurian times. The vile head concubine, Cheng-yun, fakes a pregnancy in order to win over the Emperor who's starting to develop a romance with the titular character. Huai-yu's lead handmaiden Qing-qing, which she considers more of a friend and sister than an actual servant, finds out the truth, so Cheng-yun instead arranges a Frame-Up and have Qing-qing executed before she can reveal the truth.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • In the Sooty and Co. episode, "Soo's Babies", having spent the day talking about babies and seeing human and animal babies, Soo decies to play a trick on Matthew by pretending to be pregnant, stuffing toy pandas in her dress. At first, Matthew thinks she's just put on weight, but then Soo displays all the signs of being pregant and pretends she's giving birth to baby pandas. note 
  • 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.
  • Done as an April Fool's joke in 1991 by Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune when she had a cushion stuffed under her dress. Became Harsher in Hindsight a year later when Vanna suffered a miscarriage.
  • Will & Grace: After the titular duo attempt to have a child together via IVF, Grace stuffs a pillow under her shirt to see what she'll look like once she starts to show. She then shoves the pillow further up to make her breasts look bigger.

    Music Videos 
  • 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.


    Web Animation 
  • Etra chan saw it!: Yuzuriha, Kuroki's ex-girlfriend and stalker, crashed into his wedding claiming she is pregnant with Kuroki's baby. Tokusa and the guests immediately noticed that she is not pregnant but instead stuffed a watermelon under her dress.
  • Gossip City:
    • As part of her act, Kaori pretended to be 5 months pregnant. She tried to order wine but she is stopped by Hiroshi and then she tried to play it off as a joke.
    • Kaori pretended to be pregnant with Shota's baby after he cheated on Sanae with her. When Tomiko was about to hit her, she begged her not to because she's pregnant, but Tomiko knows that she's not pregnant.

  • 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 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 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 
  • This Not Always Right comic has a woman steal a watermelon by pretending to be pregnant. The ruse is seen through by the staff, the watermelon drops to the floor, and she cries about her "poor, poor baby".

    Western Animation 
  • In the episode "The Promise" of The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball attempts to use this in order to get a seat on the school bus (with Darwin as his "baby").
  • 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 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.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "The Cent of Money", Mr. Krabs attempts this when he steals money from an arcade with Gary. He pulls it off until Spongebob arrives.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Fake Your Pregnancy


Pregnant lady coming through!

Mr. Krabs disguises himself as a lady with Gary making him look pregnant.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisguisedInDrag

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