Sometimes pregnancy before marriage happens on purpose, but many times it doesn’t. There are plenty of women who become pregnant without marriage.
The National Marriage Project (University of Virginia) reported in 2013, almost half of all first births are to unmarried mothers. Typically, the report explained, these births happen to women in their 20s with some college education.
It seems that cultural and religious views of marriage before pregnancy are looser now compared to previous beliefs. In fact, it appears that “untraditional” ways of having a child before marriage are becoming the norm.
Perhaps those experiencing ‘unmarried pregnancy’ don’t believe in marriage itself, they don’t have a person they want to marry, or they think that having a child trumps all of that.
Perhaps today, they don’t fear being pregnant before marriage, because they have the education, money, and support system to do so.
Getting pregnant before marriage may not be the dream of many women, but it has become an idea that they are okay with. Not many even think of the pros and cons of having a baby before marriage, but instead choose to just go with the flow.
Many successful, well-adjusted children come from homes where parents are unmarried, or from single-mother households. However, before embarking on this critical decision, here are some reasons why pregnancy before marriage or being pregnant and not married isn’t necessarily the best idea.
1. Marriage should be a commitment separate from pregnancy
When you have a pregnancy before marriage, it can sometimes pressure the couple into getting married, or just speed up the decision of marriage for the sake of the child.
This may or may not be a bad thing, depending on the commitment of the couple and their willingness to work on the marriage relationship and also rear the child together.
However, marriage should be a commitment separate from pregnancy. For two people to consider if they should officially spend their lives together, they should do so without pressure from outside forces, which in some cases can be a situation of having a child before marriage.
They should marry because they love each other, not because they feel they are supposed to. A marriage that feels forced could later end if the couple resents the hurried and pressured commitment.
This can create a tough situation for a couple who decide to embrace a pregnancy before marriage.
2. Research shows children born outside marriage face many risks
Pregnancy before marriage can create issues in the long-term, even for the unborn child. Many studies have been done that show children before marriage face several risk factors.
According to the Urban Institute’s study of Marriage and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children, children before marriage (who are born outside of marriage) face an elevated risk of falling into poverty.
With just the woman supporting the baby before marriage and trying to care for herself during pregnancy and then a newborn, the woman is more likely to have to drop out of school.
This may result in her having to take a lesser paying job, and therefore be more likely to live in poverty. Rising above that can be difficult.
Also, according to an article in the Journal of Marriage and the Family (in 2004), children born to cohabiting—but not married—parents are more likely to face not only socioeconomic disadvantage but also deal with more behavioral and emotional issues than children born to married parents.
These are some of the glaring disadvantages of having a child before marriage that you must consider if you are planning on having kids before marriage.
3. Marriage offers security and safety
You might wonder why you should get married before having a baby if you are in a stable and secure relationship with your partner.
There is stability and safety that comes when you know your parents are married. You know they made this decision and made it official. It’s legal, and they are bound together, and it is an outward symbol of their love for each other.
Also, it’s a promise. As a child, you know they made a promise to be there for each other, and there is just something about that promise that makes a child feel as if his or her parents will always be there—together—for him or her.
You may never be able to give this kind of reassurance as a mother if you become pregnant before marriage.
The thought of rearing a child can be overwhelming, and for a woman, getting pregnant before marriage can bring on an onslaught of emotions due to hormonal changes in her body.
In such a state, making sound decisions could be tiring for her. So think twice about the right time to have a baby, being unmarried, and planning for pregnancy.
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4. Legal ramifications for unwed parents
Pregnant and not married? This is not just a taboo question posed by society. There are some excellent legal reasons to wait to have a baby and get married before planning for pregnancy.
For parents experiencing a pre-marriage pregnancy, you must know the laws that govern parenting. It differs from state to state, so look into laws specific to your state of residence.
In a very basic sense, married parents tend to have more legal rights than unwed parents. For example, if the woman wants to give the baby up for adoption, depending on the state, the man only has a limited time to file that he does not wish for it to go forward.
Also, in some states, taxes can be an issue; it may be that only one parent can file for the child as a dependant, and in some cases, an unwed couple can’t register for the non-working spouse as a dependant.
Also, consider medical insurance or rights when it comes to having kids before marriage. In the case of an unwed couple, it can be hard to navigate the system to benefit everyone.
So having a child before marriage may seem like an okay thing to do at that time, but it may really put a strain on the relationship later on if such issues arise after that.
Having a baby is an exciting and joyful time of anticipation for a new life to enter into the home. In this modern era, more and more people are choosing to become pregnant before they are married.
While many families develop and thrive under this structure, there is still evidence from research that suggests pregnancy before marriage isn’t always best. Couples should look at all the pros and cons of having a baby before marriage before making their decision.
In the end, creating a loving environment for the new child is of utmost importance.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.