Is “Nesting” During Pregnancy Normal?

  Photo by  Nathan Fertig  on  Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Fertig  on Unsplash

What is nesting?

Nesting is a pregnancy symptom that is marked by sudden bursts of energy that may result in urges to clean, organize, and declutter. Many animals, including humans, nest to prepare for the birth of a child.

What causes nesting?

While no one knows for sure, there are some theories as to why the urge to clean and organize is so strong in so many pregnant women. Some believe it’s nature’s way of ensuring mother prepares her home for Baby. Others think it’s more logical–Mom will not have much time to look after the house when Baby comes, so she wants to take care of it while she can. If you go from so-tired-you-can’t-move to alphabetically organizing your spice rack, you’re probably nesting. And, you’re not alone.

When does it happen?

The nesting instinct is most common around the fifth month of pregnancy. However, some women may feel this burst of energy very early in their pregnancies. Others go into panic-nesting mode at the eight-month mark. And still, some women don’t feel the nesting urge at all. Each pregnancy is different. A mother may have no urge to nest with her first child and then experience a very strong nesting urge with her second. Rest assured, whether or not you experience “nesting” during a pregnancy has nothing to do with what type of parent you will become.

What are common nesting behaviors?

  • Shopping for Baby Clothing and Gear–If you still have some items on your wishlist, now is the time to get that Crib or Baby Carrier you’ve had your eye on.
  • Shopping for Postpartum Gear for Yourself–Nursing-friendly shirts, large, ugly underwear and an industrial size bottle of witch hazel might also make their way onto that wishlist.
  • Stocking Up on Diapers–A word to the wise: do not buy more than 1 pack of Newborn or Size 1 diapers. Sometimes, your baby is born and he needs a Size 2 diaper immediately after birth and you don’t have any so you have to borrow some from the NICU. This happened with our second. We were ill–prepared because our first was such a tiny little one she was in Newborn diapers for months. This also applies to newborn and 0-3 month size clothing. You may need very few pieces of tiny clothing or you may need a lot. You won’t truly know the size of your child until he is born. Be sure you have those other essentials like nail clippers, a nose syringe, saline drops, and whatever other odd baby items you don’t want to buy at 2oclock in the morning when you suddenly need it.
  • Cooking and freezing your favorite meals–this is a very practical task for a nester. Every meal you make between now and delivery, double it and freeze the other half. You will be so happy that you don’t have to cook or order takeout once Baby arrives.
  • Deep Cleaning–Now is the time to use that energy to clean your baseboards, wash your couch covers, and clean out under beds.

Are there any weird nesting behaviors?

Many Moms have taken their nesting to extreme levels.

  • One mother reported repainting her master bedroom by herself in one day and going into labor the next.
  • Another said she decided to bleach her garage floor. Obviously, these activities are not safe. Stay away from harsh chemicals like bleach during your pregnancy. And, don’t move heavy items like furniture.
  • Other expectant let their inner designer come out to play. One mother said she sold all her furniture and ordered all new in a completely different style. She also bought new artwork, bedding, and curtains. She even redesigned her other kids’ rooms with new themes and colors.
  • Another nesting phenomenon is the reorganization of Mom’s social circle. Some Moms subconsciously spend time with only those who they deeply trust. Moms experiencing this element of nesting won’t be hanging out much with acquaintances or fair-weather friends.

Nesting as a Sympathy Pregnancy Symptom

Have you heard of a sympathy pregnancy? It’s when someone close to an expectant mother–usually a spouse or romantic partner–starts to have pregnancy symptoms of their own. Everything from morning sickness to weight gain to the nesting urge can be reflected in your partner during pregnancy. I have seen this up close and personal in the form of garage painting, door replacing and closet cleaning. This is one of the many reasons that researchers feel nesting is linked to more than just hormones.

Doing Too Much

Even though you’d really like to repaint the bathroom, wallpaper the nursery, and organize your closet, today, remember you can’t do it all. Take time to rest and relax during these final weeks of pregnancy. Enjoy being able to sleep in more than two-hour increments. Enjoy your home being clean for more than 6 hours. Enjoy spontaneously leaving your house without organizing childcare in advance. Of course, these enjoyments are only available to first-time moms, but they are precious! And they are gone once the baby arrives.

For your own safety, avoid doing chores that require a ladder, harsh chemicals, or dangerous equipment. Scrubbing the ceiling until it sparkles is not worth risking your health. Stick to low-risk tasks like restocking your refrigerator, dusting your blinds, and donating that pile of clothing in your garage.

Whatever you do, remember to take breaks for rest, water, and snacks. And give yourself some time to relax between all that nesting.

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