Nesting during pregnancy, or pregnancy nesting, is a trait that causes you to become suddenly obsessed with cleanliness, assembling, and stockpiling in order to welcome your newborn’s arrival at your home.
This impulse is not exclusive to pregnant humans; it also exists in birds and animals. But what motivates you to clean and organize so obsessively during pregnancy?
This post explains the pregnant nesting instinct in detail for expecting mothers.
What Is Pregnancy Nesting?
Nesting is an act or process of preparing your home to welcome the newborn. It is a common biological trait associated with the sudden burst of energy during late pregnancy. It involves physical preparations for motherhood, such as baby-proofing the house, cleaning the entire home, buying baby gear and also doing laundry. You may even begin emotional preparation by spending more time and bonding with the partner and the unborn by talking to them (1).
In 2013, researchers from McMaster University, Canada, studied the nesting instinct in pregnant women and found that the behavior was active in the third trimester. At this time, women spent more time cleaning, organizing and preparing their home for the arrival of their baby. Experts state that nesting is not an inane activity and that it provides a safe environment to promote the mother-child bonding (2).
When Does Nesting Start In Pregnancy?
Your nesting instincts start to develop months before your due date and are the strongest just before the delivery (3).
Do All Pregnant Women Nest?
Not all pregnant women will experience this nesting instinct. Every woman is different, so are their pregnancy and changes (4). Some women have the urge and others may not. A few may be unable to nest because of physical restrictions such as being on bed rest, or due to prior infertility treatments or miscarriages.
There may also be some women who have strenous jobs taking most of their time and energy so that they do not have the motivation to nest.
However, it is not clear why some women have this instinct while others don’t.
What Induces This Nesting Instinct During Pregnancy?
There is no specific reason why women exhibit nesting in pregnancy. The following reasons may trigger your urge for nesting:
- High energy levels in the second trimester let you do more work
- The anticipation of the baby’s arrival, and the desire to have everything ready
- Frustration and boredom as you tend to stay idle during pregnancy
- Motherly instinct to protect the newborn
- Thoughts that caring for the baby will require a lot of energy and time, and you need to be ready before the arrival
- Urge to clean the home increases once you get off that queasy feeling of morning sickness and start feeling energetic
These factors can cause specific behaviors that indicate you are in the nesting phase.
How Will You Know If You Are Nesting?
Every pregnant woman who is nesting might exhibit different behaviors and action. Here are a few common signs that indicate you are nesting:
- You tend to wash, fold and organize the baby’s clothing and gear several times a day and may want to do it again and again.
- Choosier about spending time with family and friends
- Feel like staying close to home
- An urge to clean every part of the house
- Creating a checklist for baby items
These behaviors can manifest anytime from a few days to few months before labor.
Is Nesting During Pregnancy A Sign Of Labor?
No, nesting is not a sign of labor. Some women may be affected with this instinct as early as five months, and some only at the time of labor, and in some others, it may not occur at all. It is just an outcome of motherly instinct, and not associated with labor.
Nesting instincts can encourage you to try and do new things that may not necessarily be good or even safe for you. Next, we tell you how to manage those urges and keep yourself and the baby safe.
Safe Practices For Nesting While Pregnant
Nesting is not at all harmful to you or your baby. While it is beneficial, you should not overdo it. Here are some precautions that will help you deal with it sensibly:
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. Ask for help when something bulky or items on the floor need to be picked up.
- Do not climb the ladders to clean higher shelves as that increases the risk of falls.
- Avoid paints, bleaching products or oven cleaners as they contain chemicals and cause headaches and nausea.
- Get enough rest to save energy for the delivery and baby care.
- Stock the pantry with non-perishable essentials.
- Stock the refrigerator with key items such as vegetables and fruits.
- Wash the bedroom linen and keep fresh sheets ready.
- Wipe away the dust from window sills, picture frames and vacuum the cushions.
- Do not go overboard while stocking up things such as baby lotions, creams, and food that come with an expiry date. Also, not everything might suit the baby.
- Get enough maternity wear and comfortable clothing for yourself.
- Pack the hospital bag with all the essentials.
Take the to-be father’s help when necessary.
Do Fathers Nest?
Fathers also nest, but it is not a common occurrence (5). You might find your partner helping you out at home. This is not necessarily a biological phenomenon, but just an act out of concern for you. Fathers may not feel the same way as mothers do and understand about pregnancy.
Next, we answer a few commonly asked questions that might help you understand nesting better.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will I nest during every pregnancy?
If you had the urge to nest during your first pregnancy, there is a higher chance of you experiencing it in the subsequent pregnancies. However, it will be easier in the subsequent pregnancies as you would only be repeating what you have done previously.
2. Will nesting stop after I have my baby?
Nesting might stop after delivery due to other preoccupations. You will be occupied with several new challenges such as breastfeeding and baby care.
Nesting during pregnancy encourages women to clean and organize their homes to welcome their babies. Although this behavior begins months before the due date, it is more active in the third trimester. The specific reason for nesting is unknown, but it may occur due to motherly instincts, care for the arriving baby, or boredom during pregnancy. That said, not all women experience nesting because every pregnancy is different. If you tend to be more organized than before or urge to be close to home, you may be showing signs of nesting. While nesting helps make you energetic, ensure your safety by not lifting heavy objects, avoiding paints and bleaching products, and getting enough rest.
2. Emily Hite; Studying nesting behavior in moms-to-be; Stanford Medicine (2013)
3. Nesting During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
4. Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms and Health; Regis
5. Joe Kelly; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a New Dad;