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A Pregnancy Trope - essentially, if the mother's water breaks, she's giving birth right there, right then. Bonus points if 'right there' is somewhere extremely cramped, uncomfortable or inaccessible (say, an elevator) and 'right then' is a point in time that it is extremely inconvenient for her to be giving birth at (such as when the aforementioned elevator has stopped working). Other variants include the back of cars (taxis are quite popular for this purpose). Inevitably leads to a Screaming Birth performed by someone with no medical training whatsoever.

Only partly Truth in Television - the water breaking is one possible early indication that labor has started and that the baby is on the way, and this can be quite a quick process (although, depending on the baby, also quite a slow one); however, the 'instant birth' part happens more often on television than it does in real life and in most real-life labors the amniotic sac remains intact until well into labor or even until birth. Likewise, in most of these fictitious situations, the woman's baby is her first-- which, on average, rarely precedes a labor-period of less than twelve hours, which would outlast virtually any sudden "crisis."

Not to be confused with Express Delivery.


Fan Works

  • Played for drama with Franziska von Karma in the Ace Attorney fic Turnabout Everlasting. There's blood when her water breaks, she goes into convulsions, and she's two months early.
  • Averted in this Fire Emblem Awakening fic. Robin starts having contractions first, and her water breaking is a definite sign that the baby's coming. However, her labor lasts almost the whole day.
    • Played straight in this Frederick/Cordelia fic.
  • The Superjail fanfic Extended Stay plays it straight, at The Warden and The Mistress's wedding, even.


Live Action TV

  • Frasier, particularly Daphne's birth. Needless to say, this was Daphne's first child; and as usual, twelve hours of average labor was condensed down to twelve seconds.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond, in the back of Robbie's police car. Only it was a false start, and Robbie had started to go through his emergency birth procedures, much to Ray's chagrin.
  • In Law and Order Special Victims Unit this happens to Elliot's wife after she's in a car accident on the way to a gynecologist appointment, though she was literally trapped in the car and had to be manually extracted, which took quite a bit of time. She eventually ended up getting out and giving birth in the ambulance on the way to the hospital after several hours had apparently passed since the accident, making this not so far fetched compared to some of the other examples on this page. That doesn't change the Narm factor though.
    • To be fair, this was her fifth child. Subsequent births happen quicker because a woman's cervix never gets back to the same shape it was before a birth.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the episode Disaster Worf has to deliver Keiko and Miles O'Brien's daughter in these circumstances (with the "no medical training" bonus).
    • Similarly, in Stargate Atlantis, Roddney delivers Teyla's baby while they are on a Wraith Hive.
  • In Lost, this happens when Claire gives birth on the island. Unfortunately, the only doctor, Jack, is tending to a dying Boone. Charlie and a non-English speaking Jin have to aid her delivery, on a rock in the jungle.
    • Made even more odd by the next morning, where Claire is up and walking around with no limp or pain and carrying her newborn. After a birth with no anesthetic, this is a little bit hard to believe. This, paired with Locke's sudden ability to walk after years of paralysis, was an early hint that the island itself has Healing Hands.
      • This troper gave birth and was walking around that day. It's not that unbelievable. And yes, it was my first child. I didn't have a limp, though I did feel a bit of pain.
  • Played very straight once again with Claire in sideways (it takes the same amount of time for Claire to give birth that it does for Charlie to get a towel) but it's partially saved because it's not real anyway... sideways is purgatory.
  • In Psych, Chief Vick's labor takes most of the day, and she is calm and level-headed throughout it. Lassiter, on the other hand...
  • Roseanne had an episode like this when Jackie had her baby, but semi-averted the Trope. Her water broke at the diner and Roseanne was able to take her home, get her suitcase, and take her to a hospital without being too rushed. While Jackie was nervous through the whole thing, Roseanne was very calm, reminding her the first baby takes several hours. Of course, Roseanne was largely using this to justify her not telling Jackie's fiance she was in labor, since she didn't approve of him, which came back to bite her when Jackie went into early labor (not sudden, but gradual), and she had to scramble to find him.
    • Averted with Darlene in the final season. Her premature labor starts with contractions, which the doctor tries to stop with medication, but then her water breaks.
    • Played straight with Becky on The Conners, two months before she's due. Like with Darlene, the doctors try to stop her labor, but to no avail.
  • In the season 1 finale of Glee, the labor only lasts as long as a performance of Bohemian Rhapsody.
    • Well, it's a pretty long song...
  • In a season 2 episode of Community, Shirley's water breaks in the Anthropology 101 classroom and she ends up giving birth in front of the chalkboard. Justified in that she's been having contractions all day (although she's either not realized or refused to believe they were contractions) and this is her third child.
  • This happened in the Australian soap, Home and Away, in early 2011. Nicole was on the beach with Angelo at the time, and there was no way to get her to the car or for an ambulance to reach them. So she gave birth on the sand, within minutes of her water breaking.
  • Played straight in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody's Christmas episode, which is a shout out to the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day (complete w/ no room for the couple).
  • Averted in Xena: Warrior Princess. A minor character going through her first pregnancy meets Xena and Gabrielle in the middle of the day. She mentions that her contractions had already started (and thus, her water had broken). The baby is delivered just after nightfall.
  • Averted in Friends with every on screen labour. Both Phoebe's and Rachel's waters break suddenly, but both have ample time to get to the hospital and have normal labours (very lengthy in Rachel's case).
  • Invoked (?) in Leverage, where Sophie is pretending to be pregnant, needs to get away from questioning police officers, and so waits until their backs are turned and pours water on the ground. Then starts acting her heart out until the paramedics whisk her away.
  • In the Halloween episode of Desperate Housewives, Danielle's water breaks at a party and she gives birth within the space of just a few minutes. Because Bree is attempting to cover up the pregnancy, she has to claim to everyone that it was just a popped water balloon, then go back to get Adam (who is a trained gynecologist and figured it out) to help deliver the baby when Orson is too drunk to do it.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender in the serpent's pass episode. Parts of the trope are averted - Katara is an experienced midwife and takes charge.
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Ellie gives birth in the middle of a raptor fight, and only Diego, who knows nothing about delivering a baby, is present! Ellie screams and winces, and Peaches comes out already happy, sleepy and COVERED IN FUR! One of the most exaggerated Hollywood births ever.
    • What do you mean, 'covered in fur'? Peaches is a mammoth, not a rat. Only rodents and a select few other animals don't have fur upon birth, the vast majority of them have a full coat of fur when they are born. Animals aren't born naked except for a few select species.
  • Family Guy takes this trope literally when Peter and Brian sneak into a center for pregnant teens and put their hands in warm water while they're sleeping. They run from the room and laugh it up, until the sound of many crying babies are heard.

Real Life

  • Legendary Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev was born on a train traveling through Siberia. He was his mother's fourth child, and it was in 1938. Such births tend to be faster than first-timers, and hospitals were few and far-between at that time and place; likewise, a doctor was more likely to be on such a train than most other civilians (except for Dr. Zhivago, who missed his). In comparison, a normal passenger-jet today can circle almost half the globe, in the time than it takes for the average first-time childbirth.
  • There was once security cam footage showing a pregnant woman walking into a convenience store. Suddenly she goes into labor and gives birth right then and there, not even having time to sit down. If you look closely you could see a bulge form in one leg of her sweatpants. That was the baby!
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