So, perhaps you've navigated pregnancy and parenthood multiple times now, and you couldn't be happier when a close friend -- or even just some lady at the bank -- is now with child herself. Despite your best intentions, here are five common things that are not helpful things to say to a pregnant woman, and why you should stick to "Congratulations! That is so exciting!" instead:
1) You'd better get some sleep now!
Of course, when your friend's newborn enters the world, she may lose so much rest that she'll feel like she's been hit by a bus. But isn't it a bit early to be reminding her of that? In fact, her pregnancy symptoms alone -- no matter how early it is -- might be making it all too difficult for her to sleep in the here and now. Even if not, this clichéd advice will fall on deaf ears, and only serve to make her dread the newborn phase.
2) Hey, have I told you about my episiotomy?
The horror stories of labor and birthing that your friend will have to endure from friends, family and strangers (that darn woman at Target just won't let up!) are innumerable. As her friend, or even a non-friend, make it your job to be an oasis from that. Give her a pass on the gory details, at least for now (and even later, unless she asks for it.)
3) Hey, if you want kids so badly, you should take mine!
You might think you're being funny, but in one fell swoop, you're making your friend's news all about you -- and not in a good way. Let her have her moment without being reminded that her bundle of joy will eventually need a bundle of time-outs.
4) Oh, we need to go shopping! For cribs! For carseats! Have you signed up for a birthing class? When can we do your registry?
There's a good chance that your friend will feel fairly overwhelmed with everything that she has to get done before the baby comes, once she really starts thinking about it. (Especially since no one seems to admit that all you really need the first few weeks are some diapers, some onesies, and a pair or two of arms.) As a parent already, it may all seem old hat to you, and you might be dying to show off your knowledge and finally initiate her into the world you know intimately. But right now, ignorance can be bliss -- you'll have plenty of time to school her on the intricacies of swaddling when the date comes closer.
5) Well, it took you long enough!
Meant in good fun, no doubt, this nevertheless can sting -- few people like feeling like they're way late to a party, especially a party so meaningful (though vomit-filled) as parenthood. And once again, this has a way of being a more isolating and exclusionary remark than an inclusive one, especially if your friend's path to getting pregnant included more struggles or challenges than you realize.
Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist, media commentator, professor, and author of The Friendship Fix and the Washington Post Express's longtime advice column Baggage Check. Follow her on twitter @drandreabonior or Facebook.