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Knocked-Up at the Altar – The New Normal?

1321627104_e1b5458a47_bIn her new movie, The Back-Up Plan — in theaters now — Jennifer Lopez plays a pregnant bride, who, according to the movie’s tagline, falls in love, gets married, and has a baby. Not necessarily in that order.

No longer deemed “shotgun weddings” (thankfully), it’s not unusual these days to find engaged couples either expecting or already raising their children. Our culture has changed in the last several decades, and the wedding doesn’t necessarily come first anymore — if at all. But according to the New York Post, pregnant brides aren’t just a sign of the times anymore, they just might be becoming a trend.

From the Post:

According to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, 6.2 percent of first births — a woman’s first child — happened within seven months of her first marriage. (An additional 11 percent of women had their first child before their first marriage, and 21.5 percent had never married.)

“I can’t remember the last time I went to a wedding with a bride who wasn’t preggo,” says The Bronx’s Ivelisse Arce, 36, who’s been to dozens of weddings since her 20s. “My sister, my cousin, my friend. I’m actually jealous.”

Between 2002 and 2008, births to unmarried women grew by 27 percent, and 40 percent of nonmarital births are in women who are cohabitating with their partner. The marriage-then-family paradigm has been relaxed for a while now, but are women purposefully getting pregnant so they can have a baby bump on their wedding day?

According to the Post, probably not. Some believe that more women are showing up in maternity wedding dresses because couples are settling down at an older age. Worried about fertility, the process of building a family begins shortly after the engagement, they say. Dressmakers now stock faux baby bumps for women to wear during fittings, and unborn babies are also being included in wedding ceremonies.

So while we probably won’t be seeing a maternity version of Say Yes to the Dress, it’s clear that couples are taken a relaxed stance on when and how to build their families.

Dr. Leah Kaufman, an OB-GYN at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, summed it up nicely. “The culture has changed,” she told the Post. “These days, people believe if you are happy and a child is loved, that’s all that matters.”

Photo: Darren, DA Creative, Flickr

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