Scandal season 3 will be shorter than originally planned, ABC confirmed Friday.

Season 3 of the beloved Shonda Rhimes drama was scheduled to run for 22 episodes, but lead star Kerry Washington’s pregnancy has forced the show to reduce the number of episodes to 18.

According to TV Line, show runners decided that they were not going to bring Washington’s real life baby bump into Scandal’s storyline. In addition, they were not interested in writing Olivia out of the show for the remaining four episodes.

Washington is reportedly due to give birth in the spring, which is right around the time they would be shooting the final four episodes.

Season 1 of the show had only seven episodes while season 2 jumped up to 22. Season 3 will bring the show to a grand total of 47 episodes. Presumably ABC will order a fourth season, but the network hasn’t confirmed that decision yet. Given how well the show performs in the ratings, it’s almost certain to be renewed. Last night’s episode saw an uptick in viewership when compared to last week.

News of Washington’s pregnancy first surfaced in October. She is married to NFL San Francisco 49ers player Nnamdi Asomugha.

Check out our recap of last night’s Scandal episode which kicked off a two-part winter finale. In “YOLO,” Cyrus had a very bad day, Olivia said goodbye to her mother, and the Vice President made a shocking decision.

Following next week’s episode, Scandal won’t return until February 2014.

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