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Pregnancy isn't a walk in the park. Depending on the woman, it comes with morning sickness, aches, mood swings, Wacky Cravings, exhaustion, and other irritations. But usually, it's just minor setbacks and the mother-to-be can bear through it.

Unless she can't, and these minor irritations or setbacks become real problems. Or they're just the icing on the cake. Sometimes the morning sickness is so severe the mother becomes malnourished and needs to be placed on an IV. Sometimes the pains are so bad she can't even get out of bed. Sometimes her body size or overall health cause excessive dizziness, forcing her to be on bed rest. The mother may develop eclampsia or pre-eclampsia, causing excessive swelling and high blood pressure.

This is always played for drama, sometimes culminating in Premature Baby Panic or the risk of Death by Childbirth if things really go wrong.

A variant can occur where the pregnancy itself is more or less normal, but when the time comes the mother struggles badly during labor.
Examples of Imperiled By Pregnancy in Media


Fairy Tales

  • Rapunzel's mother invoked this by refusing to eat and nearly killing herself and her baby through starvation unless her husband provided her with the herbs she craved so badly.

Fan Works

  • Asuka goes through this in the Neon Genesis Evangelion fic The Child of Love. It's because Gendo is playing genetic engineer with the developing fetus.
  • Fics love to saddle certain characters with this trope in general just to amp up the drama, especially if the character is of small stature or has canon health problems. Popular targets include:
    • Noire from Fire Emblem Awakening, due to her canon health issues. Female Robin and Maribelle have also been subjected with this, especially if the former is married to Chrom or Frederick.
    • Nyx from Fire Emblem Fates due to the curse placed on her to keep her body small and underdeveloped. The female Corrin gets this, too, as well as Azura and Sakura. Oddly enough, Camilla gets this sometimes despite her body shape giving no indication she'd have trouble.
    • Fans assume this was the case with Ninian or Florina in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade if they marry Eliwood or Hector, because of their small statures. Ninian is also a half-dragon whom the story states will be physically weakened by staying in a world she's not used to anymore, which some fans assume would increase her struggles or even kill her in childbirth.
    • One Sacred Stones fic mentions Eirika having a difficult pregnancy and giving birth to twins after a long, painful labor. It's not heavily detailed, though, and she comes through it just fine.
    • Female Byleth in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is subject to both this and complicated, dangerous childbirth. While the idea does have a slight basis in canon due to her mother Sitri succumbing to the same fate, as well as Byleth herself being half-artificial construct, it mainly exists to create drama and angst.
    • Mai from Avatar: The Last Airbender, though she's more susceptible to difficult labor or Death By Childbirth. Often assumed to be the case with Ursa as well, due to Ozai's comment to Zuko that he was "lucky to be born."
    • Pidge from Voltron: Legendary Defender, complete with bed rest, morning sickness, premature labor, and post-partum depression. Sometimes Allura goes through this as well, and Keith in mpreg fics.
  • This Voltron: Defender of the Universe fic has Lance's OC wife suffering a difficult pregnancy as a lingering result of poisoning some time before she became pregnant.
  • In the Ace Attorney epic Turnabout Everlasting, a pregnant Franziska develops pre-eclampsia, causing her body to swell up excessively and forcing her to be on bed rest. She goes into labor much too early and undergoes an emergency c-section, which her and Edgeworth's baby does not survive.
  • Played for faux-drama in My Inner Life late in Jenna's pregnancy. According to her, she's so weak and dizzy Link has to wait on her hand and foot, and the false labor pains are so bad she "feels like falling over." This extends to her labor, with more faux-drama, and none of this stops her from popping out a perfectly normal, healthy son.
  • Zelda has complications late in her pregnancy in Callisto Hime's "Among the Ashes" due to using her life force to protect her unborn baby, and having given half of it to Link ages ago. This extends to her labor, which is extremely painful and drawn out.



  • Bella Swan in Twilight, due to her baby being half-vampire, Bella a full human, and the pregnancy progressing rapidly.
  • An animal variant occurs during Felicity's winter story in the American Girls collection. Felicity's horse Penny has more or less had an easy pregnancy, but when it's time for her to give birth the foal is distressed and Felicity has to run and fetch her ex-enemy Jiggy Nye to help with the delivery. Luckily, he remembers a kindness she did him earlier in the story and helps Penny deliver a healthy foal. Both mother and son recover just fine.
  • Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind has trouble with her first pregnancy and birth due to her body shape being unfit for childbearing. She's told getting pregnant again will kill her and sure enough, she dies after miscarrying her second child near the end of the book.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude has poor Remedios suffer a risky pregnancy with twins, which she miscarries and dies from in the end.

Live-Action TV

  • Lucy Camden goes through this late in her pregnancy with Savannah on 7th Heaven. She collapses in the grocery store, has a seizure in the hospital, and winds up on bed rest for weeks.
    • Her mother Annie has an overall easy pregnancy with the twins in the third season, but struggles badly during her labor to the point where the doctor insists she have a c-section. Annie staunchly refuses, and luckily for her she gives birth to Sam and David normally. They all survive.
    • Wilson's teenage wife was said to have a difficult pregnancy before her eventual death giving birth to Billy.
  • Happens quite a bit on ER.
    • This is used to give Dr. Mark some angst as he accidentally mis-diagnoses a pregnant woman's complications, resulting in a near-death experience for both mother and baby.
    • Carol Hathaway thinks this will happen to her when a kid kicks her in the stomach just after she's found out she was pregnant. Later, she suffers complications during her labor and delivery, losing a lot of blood and needing a c-section to deliver her second twin.
    • A patient's boyfriend invokes this when he feeds the girl herbs meant to induce a miscarriage.
  • In Beverly Hills 90210, Andrea suffers pre-term labor complications at six months. After going through this for a few episodes, her water breaks and her daughter is born via an emergency c-section.
  • The reality series Deliver Me is all about this trope, focusing on partners in a high-risk OB/GYN practice.
  • An episode of The Good Doctor focuses on a woman with a history of miscarriages choosing to go through with a risky pregnancy, in which the baby has a tumor that needs to be removed from its tailbone. This involves taking the baby from the womb, operating, and putting them back in. Somehow, both mother and baby live through this trauma.

Western Animation

  • Implied to be the case with Honerva in Voltron: Legendary Defender, due to her already suffering from Quintessence poisoning when she discovered she was pregnant with Lotor, and the risky circumstances surrounding his birth shown in a flashback.

Real Life

  • Kate Middleton reportedly suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during every one of her pregnancies.
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