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I’m currently pregnant with my third child, and here’s the thing: Even the most uneventful and smoothly planned pregnancies can be stressful and scary. Between the crazy hormones, the unpleasant symptoms, and the impending dread of trying to get something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon is enough to make me want to stress eat an entire cake. For these reasons — and several more — I need my close tribe of mom friends.

1. They help me pick up the slack. When I am so tired that I can’t imagine how I’ll get through the day, I can count on my friends to help me by holding down the fort so that I can take a nap or soak in the bath. Sometimes the best help in the world is a free babysitter so that I can de-stress, which is no small task with two small kids running around my house and one more on the way!

2. They don’t judge me for all the crazy that pregnancy brings. Pregnancy hormones are no joke. They can turn smart capable women into snot dripping, crying, hot messes after something as benign as a watching an insurance commercial. Seriously, don’t ask me how I know. Those same hormones will sometimes compel me to eat a platter of pastries then have the gall to ask for a serving of chili. You just never know what will happen — and thanks to my close friends, I don’t have to fear judgment.

3. They are fluent in the language of cake, Netflix, and Target. I swear to God that these three things will cure almost anything pregnancy related. I can stuff my feelings with frosting, watch “Gilmore Girls” or “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” or run to Target for more hemorrhoid cream and maybe grab that sweet layette set that I saw in the baby section. My friends understand and even encourage me to seek out these forms of therapy. Stat.

4. They are the BEST sounding board for my pregnancy crazy. I don’t know about you, but I find myself feeling pretty passionate or weepy or you-name-it about absolutely everything, especially in the first and third trimesters. Recently, my poor husband just stared at me in stunned silence as I cried over a ketchup stain on my blouse, but my friends completely understood. At least, they understood that I was basically temporarily bonkers and that they could calm me down with a well-placed joke or nod in solidarity at the injustice of condiment stains. This level of love is right up there with having your hair brushed with a soothing hush.

5. They will give it to me straight when I ask for advice. I don’t ever ask questions to my close friends unless I am prepared for honest answers served neat. “Was I unfair for getting angry at my husband for not doing the laundry even though I didn’t ask him to, but I feel like he should have known, you know?” They will say yes. Yes, you are crazy, but you are also pregnant — so, you know, it’s expected. If I say, “OMG, this baby is NEVER COMING OUT OF ME!” they will tell me to simmer down because I’m overreacting. Again.

6. They will tell me when I have taco dip on my face. Not only that but they will warn me when I tuck my shirt into my maternity underwear, I am wearing mismatched shoes, I smell funny from not showering all weekend because I binge napped and didn’t change my sweatpants, and look at me funny when I start complaining that I’m craving “something” but I’m “not sure what,” even though I literally just plowed through half of a pizza. They do this to keep me in line.

I always need my mom tribe, but never more than when I’m pregnant and feeling vulnerable. These women buffer the scary things, add humor to the banal, and keep me feeling motivated and loved. This is what, ‘It takes a village,” looks like; women supporting each other, lifting each up, and smoothing out the rough spots.

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