"What to Expect When You're Expecting" Movie Review

Updated on June 24, 2019
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

What to Expect During Pregnancy

Many women have high expectations of pregnancy: the glow, a nice, round pregnant tummy, the feeling of having life grow inside of you, best wishes from all, eating what you want, etc. Little do they know that not every pregnancy is the same nor fun, and it is definitely not what you see on TV.

The movie What to Expect When You're Expecting, deals with the very ideas of pregnancy expectations, showing the difference between the average pregnancy and those experienced by the lucky. Based on the best selling pregnancy book, What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, it dives into all aspects of pregnancy, from conception to birth, along with a story of adoption.

What to Expect When You're Expecting Movie

4 stars for What to Expect When You're Expecting Movie

Cast of What to Expect When You're Expecting

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Elizabeth Banks, who played Wendy in What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie. Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, director Kirk Jones and Elizabeth Banks from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie. Cameron Diaz and Chris Rock from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie.
Elizabeth Banks, who played Wendy in What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie.
Elizabeth Banks, who played Wendy in What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie. | Source
Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, director Kirk Jones and Elizabeth Banks from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie.
Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, director Kirk Jones and Elizabeth Banks from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie. | Source
Cameron Diaz and Chris Rock from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie.
Cameron Diaz and Chris Rock from What to Expect When You're Expecting, the movie. | Source

Spoiler Alert

This review will include details from the movie. If you have not seen it yet, I suggest you view the movie first and come back to see what you think of this review.

I give this movie four out of five stars, simply because of some silly pregnancy cliches.

Other than that, it is actually an informative and humorous movie for expectant parents to watch! It follows all aspects of pregnancy fairly well while the humor does not detract from the seriousness of some pregnancy issues.

There are plenty of reviews out there giving very negative perspectives of this film, but as one who went through pregnancy now three times, I found it to be a lighthearted way to deal with the aspects of pregnancy generally not mentioned to the masses. After all, it's not always how it happens in the movies!

What to Expect When You're Expecting Movie Trailer

Pregnancy Glow

Explanation of the pregnancy glow, which most often occurs in the first trimester
Explanation of the pregnancy glow, which most often occurs in the first trimester | Source

First Symptoms of Pregnancy

The movie follows five couples as they become parents for the first time. One of the couples you meet is Jules and Evan, celebrities who find out they're expecting a child together as they win a popular dancing show.

Right before the end of their show, Jules begins to feel some of the first signs of pregnancy: nausea and morning sickness. They attribute it to nerves, and dance anyway. As they are given the trophy, Jules loses her lunch in front of the entire studio and national audience.

Meanwhile, author and baby store owner Wendy and her husband Gary follow their conception calendar and become pregnant after two years of trying. Wendy realizes this when she is overcome by another one of the first signs of pregnancy: extreme fatigue. She finds herself sleeping in the middle of the day inside of her store.

Later on, an unlikely couple, Rosie and Marco who both own food trucks, finds out they're expecting after only one encounter. Rosie notices that she misses her period and takes a pregnancy test. She tells Marco, who doesn't know what to think and becomes upset, suggesting that she should be the one who decides what to do about the pregnancy.

All of these first signs--nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, and the missed period--are spot on. These are typical first symptoms of pregnancy, some of which may not occur until the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy but can occur earlier. Except for the missed period, they all seem to come on quite suddenly, throwing you off balance from your regular routine, as aptly shown in the movie.

Then there's Sklyer, Gary's step-mother, who along with her much older husband Ramsey, become pregnant after not even trying. She apparently has no symptoms and looks fantastic. She claims she can eat anything, has incredible energy, and everything else no other pregnant woman wants to hear. To me, she represents the very few of us who breeze through the beginning of pregnancy and enjoy every second of it. Is that a realistic expectation for every woman? Not so much.

Pregnancy Problems

What was or is the worst pregnancy problem for you?

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Pregnancy Hormones

Pregnancy triggers a flood of hormones that flow through a woman's body. The key players are the hormones hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), estrogen, and progesterone. Each are necessary to keep a woman's body from rejecting the pregnancy and to keep the baby growing.

The hormones are also responsible for a host of other fun pregnancy symptoms:

Out of all of the characters in the movie, Wendy seems to suffer from the effects of pregnancy hormones the worst. Right from the beginning, she has almost all of the symptoms while being envious of Skyler, who seems to experience none of the symptoms.

Wendy seems to understand the true nature of living though a pregnancy the most by the end of the movie. As she tells women at a convention, pregnancy can be the worst thing to go through, especially when you have so many warm and fuzzy expectations about it before becoming pregnant.

Thanks to the pregnancy hormones, Wendy experienced some pretty low times as her pregnancy progressed. Will every woman have it as bad? No, but some do and can tell you all about it!

Trying to Conceive

The fifth couple in the movie is Holly and Alex. Holly is a photographer who works with babies, and during one session she is told she is great with kids. She has a strong maternal feeling, wanting to be a mother very badly.

Despite trying to conceive, she and Alex are not capable of having any of their own biological children.

How to Take a Pregnancy Test

Unplanned Pregnancy

Unplanned pregnancies were definitely a theme in the movie as well as the pregnancy issues the women faced. Three of the couples had unplanned pregnancies, but out of the three, you can sense the impact of an unplanned pregnancy the most with Rosie and Marco.

When Rosie and Marco decided they liked each other and took things to a new level, they were surprised by an unexpected turn of events: the unplanned pregnancy. Rosie discovered she was pregnant when she missed her period and took a pregnancy test. The positive sign on the test wasn't necessarily a positive thing in her life as she was not prepared for a baby with a man she hardly knew.

Marco didn't exactly take the news easily. His response was "What should we do about it? Shouldn't you have decided what to do already? Isn't that the woman's job since she's pregnant?" more or less. Essentially, his questioning was that of someone in a near panic when finding out about an unplanned pregnancy: should they keep it or should there be an abortion?

Rosie wasn't exactly helpful with the matter as she walked away from him without fully speaking about it, but you can sense that she was willing to keep the baby. She just wanted to know if he was going to take responsibility or not.

An unplanned pregnancy, especially one that you are not in any way prepared for, can really knock you for a loop. When you plan for a pregnancy, you know that you will be responsible for a new human being for the rest of your life. If you haven't considered that before and all of a sudden it smacks you in the face, a million things can go through you're mind, some thoughts being:

  • How can I be a parent?
  • How will I have to change my lifestyle?
  • How can I afford having a baby?
  • How will I know what to do with a baby or how to care for him or her?
  • Should we consider adoption or abortion?

The good news is that if you decide to keep the baby, you have nine months to figure things out. And guess what? Even for those who planned their pregnancies, there are many things you'll have to learn from experience once the child is born.

International Adoption

In the movie, Holly and Alex turn to international adoption for their child. Here are some things to consider when thinking about international adoption:

  • You and your spouse or significant other will be interviewed for eligibility.
  • You will need a background check done.
  • It can cost around $700 or so just to start the process.
  • Only from certain countries can children be adopted from without too much difficulty.
  • You need to meet certain criteria according to laws in the U.S. and of the other country.

For more info, visit: Adoption Process.

Adopting a Child

When they realize that they cannot have children, Holly and Alex look to adoption. Holly is very excited about becoming an adoptive parent, while Alex is hesitant, showing that he may not want children after all.

(This shows how important it is to communicate with your spouse or significant other about having a child. Having a child is a huge responsibility and commitment; if both parties are not in agreement about having a child, it can put a huge strain on the relationship.)

Holly starts the process of adopting a child from another country, which involves a series of steps, one of them being an interview for eligibility. While it may seem like a strict interview and it makes them nervous, the interview was a necessary part of the entire process, making sure they were ready to take on the responsibility of another child from another part of the world.

Becoming a Parent

As with Alex and Holly, becoming a parent is a big issue for a few of the couples. Since they have waited so long to become pregnant, Wendy and Gary are excited for their baby to come while Jules and Evan realize the huge responsibility it's going to be having a baby with such busy lives. Rosie and Marco, neither of whom were expecting to be parents, seem frightened by the concept at first and then welcome the idea of it slowly.

All of these are natural feelings when you discover you're going to be a parent: excitement, nervousness, fright, or even antagonism, as you would read in the book What to Expect When You're Expecting. Becoming a parent is a major change and adjustment, especially when you're not used to having kids around or you have a busy, structured life.

Miscarriage in the Movie

Dealing with Miscarriage

As if Rosie and Marco didn't endure enough, Rosie has a miscarriage after the couple decides to keep the baby and work as a team. It wasn't an early miscarriage, one that happens in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but instead a miscarriage sometime between the first and second trimesters, after they had an ultrasound done.

In the video clip to the right, the actress who played Rosie brings up an important point: how do you talk about miscarriage? Why isn't it something women hear about more often?

Miscarriage can be an incredibly painful event, physically, mentally, and psychologically, for expecting parents. No matter when the miscarriage occurs, the result is still the same: the loss of a child. It is an experience that isn't pleasant to talk about, nor is it one that is easy to bring up once a pregnancy has been announced. It will most often be on the hearts and minds of the expecting parents forever.

Even though it is so heartbreaking and doesn't seem to get much attention, it is something that happens to many, many expecting parents. Just because it isn't talked about doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

If you are pregnant, here are some of the signs of miscarriage to be aware of:

  • Bleeding, with or without pain
  • Cramping in the pelvis, with or without bleeding
  • Passing of blood clots

If you notice any of those symptoms of miscarriage, contact your doctor immediately.

These are a few reasons why a miscarriage may occur:

  • Issues on the cellular level of the embryo
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Severe trauma to the abdomen
  • Heart defect in the fetus
  • Problems with the placenta

Please keep in mind: some women who have miscarriages are able to have healthy pregnancies afterwards and carry babies to full term. It may require extra attention from the doctor, just to make sure all goes well with the pregnancy.

Having a C-Section

I, like Wendy, needed an emergency c-section.
I, like Wendy, needed an emergency c-section. | Source

Going Into Labor

At the end of the movie, three of the women go into labor and give birth to their babies.

Two of the births that stand out are that of Wendy and Skyler. For Skyler, giving birth to twins is as easy as sneezing, literally. She sneezes, and the babies are out. No contraction pains, no suffering, no c-section for multiples.

Wendy on the other hand has a typical painful labor, resulting in a difficult birth. Since things do not progress as they should, she is whisked away to have an emergency c-section. As a result of the c-section and the difficult labor, she continues to have difficulties, needing emergency care for herself when the surgery is over.

In reality, most moms will give birth the way Wendy did, with painful contractions, a few hours of pushing, and yes, sometimes an emergency c-section. Surprisingly, there are also those miraculous few like Skyler who experience little or no pain and deliver their babies in a matter of seconds.

As you can see in the movie, no two births are alike just as no two pregnancies are alike. A lot of factors determine how the labor and birth will go, including the mother's tolerance of pain, preparation for birth, mother's size and shape, baby's size and position, etc.

Post-Pregnancy Problems

After the baby is born, the real fun begins for parents. That's when all of the hard work starts as they need to take care of a being other than themselves.

In the movie, the great thing is out of all of the expectant couples, Skyler and Ramsey are the ones who end up with the screaming babies. Everyone else seems to settle into their routines as parents with no real problems. That's karma for you!

What You Need to Know about Pregnancy

Pregnancy is not always how it is on TV, but in the movie What to Expect When You're Expecting, it's pretty true to life. Each character needs to learn about the ups and downs of pregnancy while also coming to terms with the realities of life.

I highly suggest this movie for expecting parents. Watch it as one of your last times to have a date night before the baby comes!



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    • profile image

      Sarah L 

      4 years ago

      Very informative article.

    • Alicia Szemon profile image

      Alicia Szemon 

      5 years ago

      I loved the movie because it was hilarious(:

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      CarNoobz, the movie just came out last year, so it's still fairly new. I'm glad you felt this hub was 'awesome'! You'll probably never see any of my hubs under 500 words... :D Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • CarNoobz profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      My wife had the book, but I never knew they made a movie too. That was an awesome hub. It's nice to see hubs that are more than 50 words long lol

      voted up and everything

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Faith A Mullen, thanks! Let me know what you think when you see it. :)

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 

      7 years ago

      Great article (voted up!). I so want to see this movie now.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      Jessie, these too could be pregnancy signs, or like you said, signs from your impending period. Give it a few days. If it doesn't appear, try another test. Again, best wishes!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Also since yesterday my nipples are very painful and backache but I didn't know if this was pregnancy sign or just because it's the missed period I'm supposed to be having

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      renegadetory, thank you! Yes, having a terrific partner does help with raising kids, and I bet its nice to have your son babysit. :)

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 

      7 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      Well early congrats to you on your third child! It does help that my 15 year old can baby sit for us, and I did learn a lot from my first child, but I was a single mother back then and now being married and having a terrific hubby makes all the difference in the world!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      renegadetory, don't we all wish we had younger bodies, especially those bodies we had before pregnancy. Ah, the good old days!

      Motherly wisdom sure does increase after having the first child. I'm going to have my third in the spring, and I'm much more relaxed about it now than I was nearly five years ago with my first. I could only imagine the motherly wisdom gained when there's twelve years between kids! You must be quite a pro! :D

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 

      7 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      I just watched What to Expect not too long ago and I could relate to Elizabeth Banks' character... especially when she was envious of her mother in law who sneezed to pop out twins...

      I have a 15 year old and I have both a 3 and a 1 year old. I had my first daughter when I was 20 and I have to say that my body bounced back soo much faster than with my 2 youngest. I may have more motherly wisdom and experience, but some days I kinda wished I had my younger body too! I miss the days when the baby weight practically fell off my body as compared to never wanting to leave my body now.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      teaches12345, thank you for your kind feedback, and thanks for the vote up! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Your post is a great deal of information for a woman. It is so detailed and provides all the answers to questions commonly asked about pregnancy. I never had morning sickness with mine, but it is a first indication for most women. I am glad you posted the miscarriage signs as well, very helpful. Voted up!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United States

      billybuc, you're too much! Lol. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving as well! :D

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Honestly, there is nothing I need to know about pregnancy. LOL I just want to say "well done" and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. :)


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