What is Nesting in Pregnancy?

What is Nesting in Pregnancy?

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!

In this article: 📝

  • What does nesting mean?
  • When do you start nesting in pregnancy?
  • What causes nesting in pregnancy?
  • What does it mean when you are nesting?
  • How do you know if you are nesting?
  • Happy nesting in pregnancy: 5 tips
  • Your nesting to-do list

What does nesting mean?

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 (9th draft) will confirm, yup: pregnancy nesting is definitely a real thing.

When do you start nesting in pregnancy?

While it can happen at any week, many women experience a sudden, strange burst of energy toward the end of the third trimester – in week 38 or week 39 of pregnancy.

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 ‒ nesting.

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.

🤰 Dig deeper: Third Trimester: What to Expect

What causes nesting in pregnancy?

It’s not certain exactly what causes the nesting instinct to kick in.

A rise in your adrenaline or estrogen (the pregnancy hormone) levels in the later stages of pregnancy, helps with the boost in physical activity and energy levels and may be responsible for your need to sort out your “human nest”.

Or it may be related to anxiety over having everything exactly right for your baby’s arrival.

According to research, nesting in pregnancy is a way for mamas-to-be to make sure their babes are well-protected when they are born. [1]

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!).

What does it mean when you are nesting?

So what does the nesting stage in pregnancy actually mean?

Well, for most mamas-to-be, the nesting phase can be a precursor to labor.

But for others, it could just mean that your pregnancy hormones are running a little wilder than usual.

Does nesting mean labor is near?

So how long after nesting does labor start?

Well, 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 37 and you’re busy folding every piece of clothing you own, don’t worry about contractions starting at any minute!

How early do you start nesting during pregnancy?

What about nesting in early pregnancy?

While it’s not as well documented, early nesting has been known to happen.

It could simply be a reflection of your sheer excitement at being pregnant.

But if you have nesting from around 24 weeks, that’s also totally normal.

Nesting isn’t an indicator of anything in particular in your pregnancy, and, really, could happen at any time.

How do you know if you are 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 start nesting, that is a-OK!

But here are some signs that you might be nesting in pregnancy:

  1. Deep cleaning: If you’re keen to get scrubbing areas that you didn’t even know existed before, that could be a sign of nesting.
  2. Cleaning and tidying at all hours: It’s 2am, you can’t sleep, and you’re cleaning the shower. Yup, that could be nesting!
  3. Organizing: From your pantry to the baby’s nursery, the desire to have it all structured or organized so that it’s easy to access is a common sign of nesting.
  4. Nothing’s ever quite right: You keep tweaking baby’s nursery furniture layout or changing your mind about where to store their clothing.
  5. Buying stuff you probably won’t need: Not just baby things, either, but if you’ve just noticed you don’t have a nutcracker, you might suddenly get the feeling like you need one right now.
  6. Minimalism: Or you could go the other way ‒ if you haven’t used it, you just get rid of it (unless it’s baby things and you’re a first-time mama).
  7. Emotional about tidiness: If your partner moves something out of place, you might be feeling personally offended or hurt by it. Ah, the joys of nesting in pregnancy!

Is nesting a real thing?

Yes, it certainly is!

In fact, some studies suggest that nesting in pregnancy stems back to our early days as humans. [1]

So the nesting instinct is just that ‒ an instinct.

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!

But, as embryologist Navya Muralidhar explains, you need to look after yourself, too: “Even during the day, activities such as moving furniture or cleaning the nursery is physically taxing. Factor in some breaks in between to stretch, go for a walk or watch a movie!”

2. Be safe!

Avoid nesting 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, like varnish removers or aerosol sprays, use gloves, and make sure there’s enough airflow in the room when you’re using them. [2]

3. Get emotional support

If your nesting is motivated by stress or anxiety about being prepared for labor and delivery, 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

Preparing your human nest can be a team effort ‒ you might want a nesting partner!

What is a nesting partner?

Well, if you live with your partner or other family members, you can always delegate some nesting chores to them and enjoy a little well-earned relaxation.

5. Plan some me-time

Of course, nesting for 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, get a prenatal massage, pedicure, or start a new Netflix series.

Your nesting to-do list

You’re growing a tiny human, which is pretty darn amazing (and tiring, we know).

But before the whirlwind of diapers and midnight feedings arrives, let’s get you prepped for nesting success!

  • Birth plan: Craft a birth plan that reflects you. Not sure where to get started? We’ve got you covered with our birth plan templates.
  • Hospital bag: Cozy PJs? Check. Favorite toiletries for postpartum pampering? Double-check! And lots of other essentials from our hospital bag checklist.
  • Birth announcement list: Assemble your dream team! Make a list of people you want to text/call when you’re in labor (or after the baby comes, whenever you prefer).
  • Spring clean: Time to channel your inner neat freak! Give your house a good scrub-a-dub-dub. Focus on baby’s room and living areas, where you’ll probably be spending most of your time.
  • Set up baby’s essentials: Get organized! Put away all those adorable baby clothes, toys, and gear. Set up the crib, changing table, and dresser.
  • Wash baby’s clothes: Baby clothes fresh from the store? Not so fast! Wash those teeny outfits before the baby arrives. This gets rid of any chemicals or scratchy bits that might irritate your newborn’s delicate skin.
  • Baby gear — assemble! Put together that crib, stroller, and car seat like a pro. Reading the instructions is key here – no one wants a wobbly crib!
  • Stock up on your postpartum supplies: Think padsicles, witch hazel pads, and perineal spray (trust us).
  • Meal prep: Make some freezer meals you can easily heat up after the baby arrives. Future you will be so grateful, after surviving on hospital food or birthing center meals!
  • Get your car seat checked: Get your car seat installed by a certified technician. This is super-important to ensure your babe’s safety on the road.
  • Find your pediatrician: Find a pediatrician you love and schedule your baby’s first appointment.
  • Sort childcare: If daycare or babysitting is on the horizon, start researching your options now. There are tons of choices out there, so find the perfect fit for your fam.
  • Get clued up on birth and beyond: Take a childbirth and/or baby care education class, and learn all about labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Hospitals and birthing centers often offer these classes.
  • Declutter: Donate old clothes, organize drawers, and clear out space for all the incoming baby gear. It’ll feel so liberating, and you might not have time for a while…
  • Prep your diaper station: Stock up on diapers, wipes, creams, and those spare outfits (because blowouts happen, mama!).

Now you know a little more about nesting in pregnancy, it’s time to cut yourself a little slack, mama.

You don’t have to do this alone ‒ find your nesting partner in your spouse, friends, or family, and find other pregnancy support on Peanut.


Close accordion
Popular on the blog
Trending in our community