Nesting In Pregnancy: What Does It Mean And When Will It Happen

What Is Nesting In Pregnancy, AKA Why Am I Scrubbing The Bathroom Ceiling… Again?

July 27, 2020 Updated November 18, 2020

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We probably don’t have to tell you that you’ll go through a lot of changes during your pregnancy — some more enjoyable than others. But one you may not be quite as familiar with is also, in our opinion, one of the most fun. Or, at the very least, one of the most productive. Yep, we’re talking about nesting!

If you’re tempted at this very minute to fold your unborn child’s teeny-tiny socks for the 100th time, well, you’re probably already in the thick of it. If you’re not quite there, get ready. Before you know it, you may be inexplicably compelled to clean and organize (or re-organize, as it were) every nook and cranny of space your baby might come into contact with.

So, in preparation, let’s explore this unique maternal phenomenon.

What is nesting?

The American Pregnancy Association describes nesting as “the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby.” Even if pregnancy has drained every ounce of extra energy from your body, nesting might actually reinvigorate you. If you wake up one morning feeling exuberant and ready to turn your house upside down in the name of baby, it’s probably upon you. What nesting will look like for you could look completely different for another mama. But you’ll know it when it hits. At its core, it’s a driving feeling that you need to “feather your nest” before the baby’s arrival.

Of course not every woman nests because she has some overwhelming urge to, sometimes mamas just got to get shit done so they prepare their home and the baby’s future environment as best they can. All this might be easier if it’s not your first baby as you’ll know exactly what a newborn really needs instead of what targeted ads on social media tell you you need (we’re looking at you, heated baby wipes)!

When do women start nesting?

Nesting can strike at any time, per the American Pregnancy Association. If you’re pregnant when spring rolls around, the urge to spring clean might kick your nesting into high gear. If you were a super-tidy person prior to pregnancy, nesting might be part of your entire pregnancy.

You may never feel like nesting, and that’s okay too. Just as every baby is different, every mama’s journey to baby is different as well. Nesting simply might not be something you experience. Or, you may feel that same sense of urgency but delegate the actual sprucing up to your partner. It’s your pregnancy and you nest (or not) if you want to.

Does nesting mean labor is near?

If you spend any amount of time reading online pregnancy forums (and, let’s be real, what expectant mama doesn’t?), you’ll notice many women tend to report that nesting hits during the home stretch. This is, in fact, a very common time for women to experience nesting in pregnancy. It’s entirely possible for you to experience it sooner, though. Either way, it will more likely than not peak during your third trimester as our delivery date draws near.

Why do women nest in pregnancy?

Theories abound about this maternal phenomenon. Some speculate that nesting is born out of boredom and frustration — busy work to distract you from the fact you’ve been pregnant a zillion years. Others assume that nesting is rooted in control. There’s so much you can’t control in pregnancy that you’re subconsciously desperate to take charge of something.

But perhaps the most popular consensus is that nesting in pregnancy is a primal instinct going back thousands of years. Our ancestral mamas instinctively knew that providing a safe and comfortable environment was conducive to attachment between mother and infant. Need more proof that nesting is natural and instinct-driven? Look at nature. Animals “nest” in much the same way.

Nesting in the second, third…pregnancies

Think nesting is only for first-time moms? Nope! Nesting can occur in any pregnancy and can be as simple as preparing a space for the new baby, going through hand-me-downs from your older kids, cleaning out the old bassinet, and maybe buying some new onesies. Whatever way it manifests, mamas (and dads!) for sure nest beyond that first pregnancy.

Are there any things nesting mamas should avoid?

You’ve got to remember to give yourself a little grace, Mama. Will everything be 100 percent perfect by the time baby arrives? No. And you know what? That’s fitting since parenthood is a study in beautiful chaos. Besides, the tiny human you’re preparing everything for doesn’t give a hot damn whether the curtains in the nursery match the bedding set or if their onesies are neatly folded. They’ll be too busy eating, sleeping, pooping, and stealing your heart to notice anything else.

Bearing that in mind, be careful. Don’t let your nesting instinct drive you to do anything reckless, like trying to move a dresser across the room or climbing up a tall ladder to clean out your home’s gutters… again. Get your nesting on, yes. But also make sure you get some rest. You’ll need some of that extra energy once your little peanut finally arrives.

If you’re getting your nesting on in the second trimester don’t let all that extra energy fool you into doing too much. Often dubbed the Honeymoon Period in pregnancy (first trimester symptoms have often dissipated by now and third-trimester aches and pains are weeks away), many expectant moms report feeling a boost of energy in their second trimester. But just because you feel like you can flip mattresses, do lots of bending over to pack away new baby clothes, you really shouldn’t. Hemorrhoids, lower back pain, and sore muscles won’t be far behind if you over-exert yourself and it goes without saying you shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy.

How to deal with nesting anxiety

During your nesting period, you may feel a little invincible or like you can leap buildings in a single bound. And although you may feel incredibly energized and capable during this time, it does not mean your pregnant body can keep up. To better manage your energy and nesting anxiety, lean on your friends and family to be your arms and legs. Meaning — if you want to see how the crib looks in three different rooms, have your partner push it into place. You can still do everything you want to do, just delegate the more strenuous tasks so you’re not overworking yourself.

It’s also important to burn some of the nesting energy. If you start feeling restless or find yourself looking for new ways to nest, take a walk, or do a few minutes of exercise. It doesn’t have to be a CrossFit workout, but just something to get you moving and pull your mind away from any tasks you’ve been mulling on. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new physical activity while pregnant.

We know the last thing you may want to hear is relax. But if you’re cleared by your doctor, do some yoga or meditate to clear your head and ease the buzzing inside of you. Your body and baby will thank you.