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Baby without marriage? Things Kimye — and you — should consider

LAS VEGAS NV - DECEMBER 31:  Kim Kardashian Kanye West arrive for New Year;s Eve countdown 1 OAK Nightclub

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 31: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive for the New Year;s Eve countdown at 1 OAK Nightclub At The Mirage on December 31, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)

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Updated: January 9, 2013 7:56AM

Kim Kardashian and beau Kanye West surprised pop culture watchers with the announcement they are expecting a child. The celebrities, who have dated since April, have not announced any plans to get engaged or tie the knot.

It’s a trend in Hollywood among actresses and singers alike. While society used to judge or discredit women who had children “out of wedlock,” it’s becoming much more common and acceptable for couples to have a baby (or two or three) before tying the knot.

Celebrities such as Adele, Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Jessica Simpson and Kate Hudson all have had children with their partners before getting wed, and many of them spoke openly about how the decision was a positive one for their families.

Like many trends that have their roots in Hollywood, this could be one that we soon see play out among non-famous couples as well. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider when having a baby before tying the knot:

Freedom to choose and create your family. In the past, women were harshly judged and even punished for having children outside of marriage. The child also often was tormented and called a bastard, and it was a mark of shame that followed them throughout their life.

Thankfully, we have moved past that era of bigoted and hateful thinking and are now able to be more open and accepting of people’s life choices. Anytime we can empower women to make choices regarding their own body and sexuality (whether it’s to have a kid before marriage or to have a traditional nuclear family) I think it’s a positive step in the right direction. We need to stop judging people for what they do inside the bedroom and instead allow loving, committed adults to create their own families and lives as they see fit.

Expectations need to be discussed. While some people see marriage as unimportant and would rather parent in a non-conventional way, others believe that a wedding solidifies their bond and commitment.

It’s important to discuss the matter openly and honestly with your partner to make sure you are both on the same page.

For instance, if you hear wedding bells in your near future but she is happy postponing the big day indefinitely, it could lead to arguments later on. Make sure you have the same expectations and goals and discuss them over the years as they evolve.

Take the time to create your own happy ending. “Shotgun weddings” used to be the inevitable outcome for women who got pregnant outside of marriage. They often were forced or coerced into walking down the aisle with a partner who didn’t necessarily want to tie the knot either.

The result often was an unhappy marriage and an unhappy child as well. The positive benefit of delaying marriage is that it allows both couples to be sure of what they want and to take things at their own pace.

So, is getting pregnant before getting married a bad idea? It depends on what marriage means to you and your partner and what expectations you each have of the future.

At the end of the day, happy, loving adults tend to parent better than their unhappy counterparts, regardless of whether they have walked down the aisle or not, so it’s important to make choices that are best for you and your child’s well-being.

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and something tells me that the new “Kimye” baby will lack for neither love nor accessories!

Dr. Berman is the host of “In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman,” which airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

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