How to Fake Pregnancy for an Acting Role

Updated on July 20, 2016
© Spepple22 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Spepple22 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos | Source

How to Make Yourself Look Pregnant

Little girls and sometimes little boys like to pretend they are pregnant. Children will often put a pillow or stuffed animal underneath their shirts. Although very cute, you will need to do more preparation to get a pregnant acting role when you are not. Here are some suggestions to help you get the part.

Get the clothes:

Remember when a pregnant woman grows to compensate for her baby, it is not just her belly that expands. Usually, her breasts grow larger too. Sometimes she may retain water and feel and look more bloated.

  • This is the time when you do want to wear horizontal stripes. The lines wrapping around the body will accentuate the mid section
  • Buy a pregnancy top, a baby-doll type shirt or dress would be easier to fake a pregnancy
  • Add a pretend pregnancy suite underneath the clothes
  • Buy a larger bra and fill the bra out with padding

Get that glow:

Pregnant women 'glow' because they are taking vitamins, and because of the increase of blood flow. She is getting more oxygen throughout her body. So if you want to look pregnant, do not forget, most pregnant women's hair grows thicker, longer, and shinier. Her complexion is sometimes clearer and her face actually looks brighter.

Get the makeup right:

This is the time you do not want to look sexual, or like a seductress. Culturally, people perceive pregnant women as a vessel of life bearing a child. When you mix women with children and babies the look you want is motherly, but not matronly.

Be bright. Be breezy. Be light. Do not overdue the makeup, most pregnant women do not have the time to doll up.

  • Use a foundation that will illuminate your face, to get that glow
  • Add a bright pink blush, for rose colored cheeks
  • Mascara and eyeliner
  • Pinks or natural tones for your eyelids
  • A gentle pink for a lipstick

To Prepare For Your Role I Recommend Watching:

I recommend watching the movie Waitress with Kerri Russell. What makes this pregnancy movie unique is that she is not excited to be pregnant. She deals with her pregnancy instead of being in pregnancy bliss. She brings something unique to the role she plays.

Acting Pregnant

A woman's pregnancy lasts for nine months. These months are broken down into 3 months of 3, or commonly known as trimesters. Depending on what trimester you are acting, you will need to vary how you would act. If you are at a casting call, ask what trimester would they like you to play. It shows that you have done your homework and also gives you the ability to act towards what they are seeking. Here are suggestions for each trimester.

1st Trimester:

The first trimester, or the first three months of pregnancy have some common symptoms.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting, particularly in the morning
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Food cravings and food aversions
  • Indigestion

2nd Trimester

  • She will now feel her baby kick or move
  • She may have an increase in libido and an easier time reaching orgasms
  • Usually morning sickness will decrease or go away
  • She will feel more rested and seem to have more energy than the first trimester
  • She will need to buy maternity clothes and start wearing them

3rd Trimester

  • Backache
  • Swelling of the feet
  • Towards the end of pregnancy the baby's head drops down into the pelvis, the woman's hip bones shift, all of which may change how she walks. Imagine walking with a 8 pound weight sitting in your pelvis
  • Her breasts grow to prepare for breastfeeding
  • Her breasts may leak some milk
  • Frequent urination

Questions To Ask Casting Staff

How To Act
How To Act
How To Act
Is this pregnancy planned or unplanned?
Planned: act excited
Unplanned: act a range of emotions, surprise, fear, numb, advoidant, happy, distrot
Is this woman alone or does she have a supportive partner?
Alone: act either terrified, or confident or a combination of both
Partner: act more needy, lookng towards partner for reasurance and support
How far along is this woman in her pregnancy?
1st Trimester: act nausea, tired, food cravings
2nd Trimester: act by touching your growing belly, pregnant glow, buy maternity clothes
3rd Trimester: act as if your back hursts, breasts hurt, tiredness, cranky, large
What type of labor will this woman have?
Home birth: in labor act more meditative, quiet, water birth, midwife, zen, candles, music
Hospital birth: labor by laying in bed, possible epidural inserted in the back, vaginal checks, IV insertion, lots of lights, legs in stirrups
Fast in the car: hold onto door handle or anything you can grab, moan, move around, sweat, groan

What Does Labor Feel Like?

One way to describe labor pain, is to recall a time you had digestion problems. Labor can feel similar to stomach cramps because of constipation, or severe diarrhea. The pain of labor contractions uses similar stomach muscles as these suggested stomach aliments.

Next time you have stomach pain make note how you are feeling and what you are doing to cope with the pain. A woman in labor will act similarly. However, the pain of labor contractions most often escalates far above stomach cramps.

Another Movie Recommendation

Another movie recommendation to prepare for a pregnancy acting role is the movie, Where The Heart Is, starring Natalie Portman. She plays a young woman pregnant and is abandoned by her boyfriend at a Walmart on a road trip. She is pregnant with no money, no resources, and left at a Walmart many miles away from her dysfunctional family, in a foreign town. She ends up living at the Walmart until she gives birth to her baby.

© Janpietruszka | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Janpietruszka | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos | Source

Acting Like You're in Labor

Although labor scenes have been played in various roles on TV and in Movies it is important to add to your character new subtleties that would enhance your labor performance. The stereotype labor scene is a woman in a hospital bed, legs in stirrups, sweat pouring off her face, she is moaning, throwing things and often using profanities is not usually what happens during labor and delivery.

Labor starts slowly. Contraction begins spaced out and are sporadic. Eventually they will develop a pattern. Contractions will come every 10 minutes lasting only 30 seconds. As labor progresses the contractions will get closer together and last longer in duration.

Women's labors often begin with feeling uncomfortable and having flu like symptoms. It is only 10% of labors that begin with her water breaking. Usually the water breaks at some point after labor has begun.

To aid you in preparing for labor, I suggest getting a bucket of ice. As a Birthing From Within Educator, I use ice to help parents prepare to learn how to cope with pain. You will also need a timer.

  • Put your hand in the ice bucket and pull out a handful of ice
  • Hold the ice for 60 seconds exactly
  • Notice how your body responds
  • Notice how you move
  • Notice how your mind tries to find ways to avoid the pain
  • You might want to video tape yourself, so you can see yourself experiencing this discomfort to reference when you act out the part

Tips to help ease the discomfort:

Now do the process again. Using the ice, hold it again for 60 seconds. This time focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out. You do not need to breathe fast, or make weird sounds. Just breathe comfortably. Try to bring awareness to your breath.

  • Notice how focusing on your breath can aid you cope with the discomfort
  • How might a laboring woman look like if she is using her breath to aid in coping with her pain?

A laboring woman who is not using pain medication often looks like this:

  • She is focused inward, not outward, which is most often portrayed
  • She closes her eyes
  • She moves her hips and body
  • She may groan
  • She may kneel on all fours allowing her body, hips and pelvis to rock and move
  • She may clench her hands and tighten her body during a contraction
  • Remember in early labor contractions come and go
  • After a contraction she can get up, move, drink, relax

Last Movie Recommendation:

The third and final movie I would recommend is the movie Knocked Up staring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl. This movie is a comedy. Two strangers who have a one night stand becomes pregnant. The movie depicts both the male and female experience of preparing for an unplanned baby.

© 2012 Carly Sullens


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 

    2 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Some good pointers, but from someone who has been there twice, I'd compare labor more to menstrual cramps; which are a lot lower in the abdomen than ordinary stomach cramps that may arise from indigestion or having eaten spoiled food.


  • profile image

    Maya Jones 

    2 years ago

    I want to act to

  • DzyMsLizzy profile image

    Liz Elias 

    5 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Good points....I've been there twice, and your tips are pretty much spot-on, as any other mother will tell you.

    However, as far as the pain's a bit more intense at the end...they have now said that giving birth is a pain equivalent to having about 20 bones all breaking at once, and is above the pain threshold of most humans...but women can handle it, cuz we rock! ;-)

    Have you seen the video where 2 guys think labor pains are a joke and that women exaggerate, and they volunteer to undergo a simulation, using electronic nerve stimulation to contract their abdominal muscles? They only ramp them up to about the 7cm point, and the guys cry 'uncle' and can't handle it. It's hilarious.

    Voted up, interesting and useful.

  • RonElFran profile image

    Ronald E Franklin 

    5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

    I'm tolerably sure I'll never need to know how to play a pregnant woman. But I read this hub because I was intrigued by the title. I must admit, I learned some things I never knew before. So, if that role is ever offered to me ...

  • CarlySullens profile imageAUTHOR

    Carly Sullens 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

    chef-de-jour, that is great. I hope your students enjoy playing a pregnant woman.

  • chef-de-jour profile image

    Andrew Spacey 

    6 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    A fascinating and detailed hub. As a drama teacher I'm always on the look out for how specific roles are played and expressed. Your hub gives some great tips and background information.

    Votes, and shared.

  • CarlySullens profile imageAUTHOR

    Carly Sullens 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

    LongTimeMother, I appreciate your kind words. It was a fun hub to write. I agree maybe having more infliction of pain would help with acting through labor. But actors probably have it in their contract that they will not be hurt or injured during their role, LOL.

  • LongTimeMother profile image


    6 years ago from Australia

    This hub is definitely awesome.

    Never in a million years would I have given thought about how to fake pregnancy, but I can see these would be great tips for actors. I particularly enjoyed the idea of putting your hand in a bucket of ice. Mind you, for at least one of my birthing experiences an actor might have to immerse their whole body in a bathful of ice to get the whole experience. lol.

    Voted up and awesome, without hesitation. What a brilliantly creative idea for a hub. :)

    I'm sharing it because I can't wait to see what other mothers think!

  • fpherj48 profile image


    6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Carly.....Meaning this all in humor.....although this is an amazing hub and you surely have it down to a Science.........At this point in my life, I could not....would not want to even FAKE a pregnancy! Oh dear me....NO NO NO!.........LOL It was fun at the time, but I'm ALL done with that! UP++

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 

    6 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Natalee Portman in "Where The Heart Is" was fabulous as was Keri Russell.

    Thanks for the tips. If I should ever come across a role for pregnancy, I will be well-prepared! LOL


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