The Stigma About Pregnancy Outside Of Marriage Is Finally Ending – And That’s Definitely A Good Thing

When I became pregnant with my oldest daughter, I was 21 and a senior in college. My boyfriend and I had discussed marriage prior to finding out I was pregnant, but we were definitely not planning on getting hitched anytime soon.

Needless to say, the pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise and although I am incredibly, incredibly grateful that our daughter came into our lives, at the time, the experience of being pregnant before I was married was not always an easy one.

Part of it may have been my own insecurities and fears of being judged, but there was definitely moments when being pregnant without being married felt I was walking (or waddling!) under a huge microscope, where everyone was whispering about me and what kind of girl I was and what kind of mother I would be. Some people took the time to tell me that I was a “baby having a baby” or made me feel like I had to have a shotgun wedding to “make things right” or wondered aloud how anyone could be stupid enough to “let” themselves get pregnant.

It was a fun time in my life.

But now, for other moms facing pregnancy outside of marriage, the times are changing for the better. A study from the University of Buffalo found that unlike the good ol’ days, when pregnancy out of wedlock was met with lots of hand-wringing and “oh my gosh whatever will we do?!” reactions, nowadays, people just don’t even  notice when a woman has a baby and she isn’t married. It’s just not that big of a deal anymore. And honestly? I think that’s a good thing.

Being pregnant outside of marriage, first of all, is really no one’s business. And secondly, life happens, quite literally sometimes.  Many women are delaying getting married, but still faced with the biological reality that in general, it’s easier to become pregnant at a younger age. Some women may know that they want to have kids and choose to let nature take its course or some women may choose partnered, but not married, parenting, and some women may not be in a relationship at all.

And most importantly, women who are having children and are not necessarily married or partnered are changing the way that as a culture, we view women and mothers. Mothers, in general, are changing the landscape and no one expects women to drop out of life and hide away simply because they happen to get pregnant.

The study also pointed out that the world of celebrity babies might also be changing the way we see pregnancy outside of marriage. When we see so many celebrates having children as single parents or partnered, but not married, it becomes more normal and accepted to us.  The fact that pregnancy outside of marriage isn’t always seen as this horrible, shameful thing anymore helps us all.

High-profile celebrities such as Michael Phelps and his adorable son, Boomer, have openly shared their own parenthood outside of marriage news without any qualms. And instead of shaming parents like Phelps, we have finally learned to celebrate when both men and women can make their professional and personal lives as parents work. Because when we embrace parents in all walks of life, we are all better for it. Even if we all can’t be Olympic gold medalists.