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Elisabeth Rappe

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Elisabeth Rappe is a regular contributor to Film.com, CHUD, and The Spectator's arts blog. She spends her off-time with comic books, her pug, Elliot, video games, and Clint Eastwood movies.

What I Learned About Pregnancy From the Movies

If you’re a woman, the specter of childbirth is always hanging over you. Even when you’re a little girl, you’re keenly aware that you’re able to have a baby, and the young fellow you play “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” with is not.

As a kid, your view of childbirth is a fairly sanitary one. Babies live somewhere inside a mommy’s “tummy” (yes, I’m going to be as cloying as possible) and somehow they come out. Unless you live in a very open household and were encouraged to watch the process with a younger sibling (or your own birth videotape), you’re likely unaware of the blood, sweat, and tears for some time.

If you get into your teens with this blissful ignorance, then you’ll learn a lot about childbirth from the movies. This educational tradition is about to be picked up and played by “What to Expect While You’re Expecting,” where the following pregnancy facts will no doubt be repeated with straight-faced enthusiasm:

1.    When you’re pregnant, you won’t know until some hilarious or uncomfortable thing alerts you to the fact.  Your jeans don’t fit right, for example. You’re throwing up in the mornings. You’re all cranky and hormonal and no one can figure out why. Maybe you’re even dying of the flu! Panicky, you’ll make a doctor’s appointment and the medical professional (almost always portrayed in baby movies as a man) will inform you, “Silly lady, you’re pregnant! By the way, did you have sex recently? That probably did it.” Oddly, the usual clue (one’s menstrual cycle abruptly stopping) doesn’t factor into the “What’s wrong with me?” drama at all.

2.    You will gain weight, but only adorably around the middle in a perfectly round and planetary shape. Your face, butt, legs, arms and boobs will remain exactly the same size. You will, however, whine about being fat to anyone who will listen and your handsome husband/boyfriend will assure you that’s not the case.

3.    When you feel the baby move for the first time, a theme song will swell around you. If your boyfriend hasn’t committed (this could be a Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen film), this will be the moment when he will. He hears the music! If this doesn’t occur by the third and fourth month, don’t worry. The moment may be delayed until the first ultrasound when you can see the little tyke’s heartbeat. Each woman is different!

4.    Your skin will look glowy and perfect. You’ll never get any breakouts or weirdness with your skin tone.

5.    All birthing prep will be run by some kind of obnoxious hippie type you’ll roll your eyes at. Lamaze class will be full of lean and intense moms and dads, who are even prettier than you (because you’re so darn ugly and fat, remember?) and you’ll be the only two goofballs.

6.    When you go into labor, it won’t be while you’re sitting at home alone in dirty, too-tight pajamas watching “Anderson Cooper 360.” It will be at some kind of fabulously public event – dinner, a wedding, a party, a theme park. Hilarious!

7.    When you go into labor, it’s full on “HONEY, I’M GOING INTO LABOR!” bent over double, water-breaking craziness. And you get it right the first time. You won’t be sent home after waiting four hours to be told it was a false alarm. Nor will you sit at home debating whether you’re in labor, or baby just didn’t like the garlic bread. It’s immediate, contractions-are-two-minutes-apart labor! No guess work!

8.    You’ll barely get to the hospital. In fact, you may give birth in that hilariously dramatic place you went into labor while wearing an evening gown. It’s possible. Women can’t predict these things, after all. Silly ladies! Always going into labor when they’re dancing a conga line.

9.    If you do make it to the hospital, birth is immediate. You won’t sit around for hours watching the awful television piped into your room, writhing in agony, unable to eat or drink, while your husband/boyfriend sleeps, plays with his iPhone and goes out for Starbucks.

10.    It’s so immediate, they can’t give you an epidural. This will be seen as your fault.

11.     Birth! It’s full on scream fest. You’ll also have the energy and wit to scream all kinds of Shakespearean insults at your husband/boyfriend while pushing. You’ll also look beautifully sweaty and disheveled. Your face will not be an incredible mix of purple and red, your eyes won’t bug out like Quaid on Mars, and your hair will not be a greasy, matted mess. Promise. Birth is only like a brisk workout at the gym.

12.    Don’t worry. No one but the doctor will see the business end, because you’ll be surgically well-draped from prying eyes.

13.    You’ll never need any intervention.  Forceps, emergency C-sections, episiotomies are all weird myths.

14.    There’s no bodily fluid except a bit of well-placed goo on the baby.

15.    Afterwards, you’ll look fantastic (in fact, no one will ever be able to tell you were pregnant, let alone gave birth!) and be fully awake for all the family, wacky friends and romantic interludes that will dance through your room. You won’t need a shower, let alone a nap. You won’t be in any pain. You’ll be able to smile and say “Isn’t she/he beautiful? We did this. We made a life!”

See? It’s no big deal. Not sure why all the moms complain about it, other than for the comedic or narrative purposes of the script.  Because if there’s one thing to know about the movies, it’s that they never, ever lie about science, medicine or physics. Or love. Or anything. Batman’s real, isn’t he?


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Tags: Charlize theron, Judd apatow, Pregnancy, Seth rogen, What to Expect when you're Expecting

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