You’ve probably heard that expecting women hit a point in pregnancy where they just want to clean and organize.
That desire is known as nesting and there’s some science to back it up.
In this post, we’re discussing what nesting is and 17 activities you can do to fulfill your urges.
What is Nesting?
Nesting is the impulse to clean and organize during pregnancy. The term is used for pregnant animals who do certain things to get ready for babies—for example, birds making nests before birth. People often apply the term to expecting women with similar habits. Even though you’ve had pregnancy fatigue, you may wake up one day with a sudden need to get your home ready for the baby.
Nesting usually happens during the later stages of pregnancy. There’s an old wives’ tale that says the urge signals that labor will start soon. Of course, there’s no evidence for that.
Not all women experience nesting, either. Once the baby arrives, nesting usually stops. This could be because the urge has left or there’s simply not enough time anymore.
If your due date is in the late spring or early summer, the urge may be more intense. This is because, in the spring, many people get the desire to “spring clean.” This could be due to an urge to shake things up after a long winter or just to get it over with so they can go outside and enjoy the weather. Either way, this can further intensify your nesting urges.
What Triggers Nesting?
So what gives you the urge to clean and organize all of the sudden? While it varies per person, there’s a few possibilities:
- To Prepare. Knowing that a newborn means significantly less time for everything else, some women try to get as much done as they can before the baby comes.
- Often pregnancy symptoms make women stay at home more during this time. If you’re getting bored of your usual routine, you may get the urge to spice it up by reorganizing or decorating.
- Sometimes, moms-to-be see nesting activities as an act of anticipation for their baby. Cleaning can be a way to get out some of your excited energy.
- For some women, disinfecting every nook and cranny can be a way to reduce their anxiety about their baby getting sick. Similarly, reorganizing could be a form of baby-proofing to reduce possible accidents.
- Tacking on to the point above, some experts say nesting is a way to gain control. Nearing the end of a pregnancy, women may feel stressed and like they have no control over how their labor goes. Doing an activity, like cleaning, is a way to do something and feel like you’re in control again.
- Settling In. During your younger years, you may have moved around from apartment to apartment with your partner. But now that you’re having a child, you may feel like this is your forever home—or at least for a long time. That thought can make you want to “plant roots” and adjust your home exactly how you want it.
- Some experts theorize that changing hormones during pregnancy may affect the activities we do, such as cleaning and organizing. Others disagree and say there’s no data to back this.
- Gendered Housework. Some researchers say that nesting is a way we adapt to a society where household roles are gendered. Put simply, household chores are traditionally a woman’s job. Since these gender pressures intensify during late pregnancy, women start taking on more of these activities.
- Ancestors & Instinct. Researchers say our ancestors had to nest to prepare their caves (ex. lay down soft moss). They also had to stay close to home because pregnancy made them unable to protect themselves against predators. Even though that’s not our life anymore, researchers theorize that it’s still in our nature. Others argue there’s no evidence for that.
Research on Pregnancy Nesting
There’s some science to back up nesting. Here’s a look at some findings from a 2013 analysis from McMaster University in Canada. They combined the results of one longitudinal study and one online survey.
- 3rdTrimester Peak. Researchers found that nesting is at its peak in the third trimester.
- The same study found that organizing and sorting were more popular during nesting compared to cleaning and disinfecting.
- People Involved.Authors also found that nesting didn’t just include sorting things; it involved sorting people. For example, they noted that women tend to prefer the comfort of familiar people. They called this “social selectivity.”
- Odd Activities.Women noted some strange nesting activities. This included taking apart cabinets to clean screws or being overly meticulous with disinfecting.
17 Nesting Activities
Bookmark this page and come back to this list if the nesting urge hits you!
If you get a craving to clean, you might as well use it as long as you can! Start with one room or area and work your way through the home if you wish. Most experts say that most cleaning supplies are okay to use during pregnancy, as long as you’re following the label. However, it’s possible that a strong-smelling product can affect your morning sickness.
Before you organize, the first step is to get rid of all the junk you don’t need. Where appropriate, consider donating.
Start with one area and move onto the next. Dollar stores carry affordable dividers and baskets to help rearrange items. The list of things you could reorganize is endless. Here’s a few ideas:
- Kitchen cabinets
- Bathroom cabinets
- The “junk” drawer
- Desk drawers
- Coat closet
- Shoe racks
- Anything stuffed or stored under beds or sofas
#4 Nursery Design
One of the most popular nesting activities is to design the nursery. From the color scheme to which crib and furniture you’ll include—there’s so many exciting things to do. While the planning is safe to do, you may want to get someone else to paint the room. Water-based paints are usually okay, but many moms-to-be take extra precaution. You should also make sure to keep the area well-ventilated. To avoid this altogether, you can choose a cute wallpaper instead.
#5 Display Photos
Go through your photobooks and display a few of your best pictures!
#6 Add Plants
While reorganizing your place, consider livening it up with a few strategically placed plants. If you’re bad at remembering to water them, choose succulents.
#7 Donate Clothing
Organize your closet and consider which clothing you’ve actually worn in the past year. Donate everything else to charity to make room for the new!
#8 Craft Decorations
If an area is looking a little dingy, transform it with DIY decorations. This could include making a shadow box or adding print out wall art to a dollar store frame.
#9 Use Contact Paper
If you want to change up an area but are afraid of design commitment, consider using contact paper. It’s similar to wallpaper but it’s easier removed. Some rolls can make your wall look like wood, brick, marble, etc.
Put together the hospital bag you’ll take with you when you give birth. You may also wish to have a diaper bag or diaper caddy stocked up.
#11 Meal Prep
Although cooking isn’t necessarily a nesting behavior, stocking up is. Since you’ll have less time when the baby is born, consider pre-making and freezing meals now to eat later.
#12 Take Inventory
What baby supplies have you purchased and been gifted? What’s left to get? Plan the supplies you need and where you’ll buy them.
#13 Take Postpartum Clothing Inventory
Do you have any clothes that will be easy to nurse in? Any nursing bras? If not, make a list of what you’ll need.
#14 Clean Your Car
Don’t forget about cleaning your vehicle! It will be your first baby’s ride home.
#15 Wash Baby Clothes
Have all of the baby clothes washed and prepared for when she comes home.
#16 Friend Inventory
As the study we discussed in the section above suggested, social selection is another part of nesting. You may consider who you want to be around your baby. Will everyone be there for you after birth? Is there anyone you don’t trust?
#17 Stock Up on Hospital Snacks
Remember to plan and purchase any snacks you’d want with you on the big day!
Summary on Pregnancy Nesting
Nesting during pregnancy is the urge to clean, organize or stock. There’s a few possible reasons for this but the major benefit is that it prepares you for the baby. While some women don’t experience nesting at all, it usually peaks in the third trimester.
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