We’ve all seen it in nature documentaries – the mama bear choosing the best cave to give birth to her young ones, a bird lining her nest, even a fish hiding her eggs on the ocean floor. Yep, that’s nesting!
Nesting is the instinct to prepare a cozy, clean, safe space for a little one who’s about to arrive, and it appears in mamas of all shapes and sizes, throughout the natural world.
Sure, animals do it, we hear you say, but is nesting in pregnancy a real thing for humans?
As any mama-to-be who’s been up at 3am scrubbing floors, repainting the nursery, or creating a new and improved birth plan (ninth draft) will confirm, yup: pregnancy nesting is definitely a real thing.
When does nesting start?
When do pregnant women start nesting?
And all that energy gets directed into creating a safe environment where you can nurture your baby in their first few days and weeks of life.
You may feel that you want to clean your entire home, or you may be focused on organizing every detail of the nursery – down to the last tiny sock.
Alternatively, your nesting energy might go into planning the birth itself, including working out the ideal location for labor, practicing your breathing techniques, or packing (and then re-packing) your hospital bag.
What are the causes of nesting in pregnancy?
It’s not certain what exactly causes the nesting instinct to kick in.
It’s possible that a rise in your adrenaline or estrogen (the pregnancy hormone) levels in the later stages of pregnancy are responsible.
Or it may be related to anxiety over having everything exactly right for your baby’s arrival.
According to scientific research, nesting is a way for mamas-to-be to make sure their little ones are well protected when they are born.
Preparing a safe space for birth and limiting contact with people are typical aspects of this (so if you’ve been feeling really anti-social recently, that could be why!).
Is nesting a sign of labor?
Because the nesting stage in pregnancy often occurs later on, near to your due date, it’s traditionally been thought that nesting means labor is on the way.
There’s no solid evidence that this is the case, though.
So, if it’s week 38 and you’re busy folding every piece of clothing you own, don’t worry about contractions starting at any minute!
How do I start nesting?
It’s important to remember that plenty of mamas don’t get the urge to start nesting – or not to the same extent.
You may feel perfectly relaxed about the level of tidiness in your home, or you may feel too tired to do a lot of cleaning.
If that’s the case, don’t be concerned or force yourself to start frantically organizing – if you don’t want to nest, that is a-OK!
Happy nesting in pregnancy: 5 tips
Gripped by nesting fever right now?
Here are some tips to avoid ruffled feathers (sorry, couldn’t resist!):
1. Factor some resting into your nesting
Try to save some of that valuable extra energy for birth. Give yourself breaks between cleaning sessions and avoid any scrubbing marathons in the middle of the night – you need your sleep, mama!
2. Be safe!
Avoid tasks that involve reaching up too high, heavy-lifting, or standing on ladders – you don’t want to risk an injury. Also, go for gentle cleaning products rather than harsh chemical cleaners, and make sure there’s enough air-flow in the room when you’re using them.
3. Get emotional support
If your nesting is motivated by anxiety about being prepared for labor and delivery, try to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. You can always reach out to your support system on Peanut for reassurance.
4. Let your partner take their share
Nest-building can be a team effort. If you live with your partner or other family members, you might want to delegate some nesting chores to them and enjoy a little well-earned relaxation.
5. Plan some me-time
Of course, preparing for your baby’s arrival is important, mama, but remember to take some time for you, too! Leave the dustpan in the cupboard and the laundry unfolded once in a while – it’s time to get stuck into a good book or start a new Netflix series.