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What is Nesting?

What is Nesting?


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What is Nesting?

Have people asked you if you're nesting yet? What is this thing that people are talking about and do I want it to happen to me?


Nesting is the urge to clean and organize your house while pregnant. You’ll know you’ve entered “nesting” mode because you’ll experience a sudden burst of energy, as opposed to feeling exhausted all the time. Typically, the tasks you are motivated to complete are related to preparation for the baby. These chores can range from cleaning the common areas in your house to rearranging the entire nursery. The term undoubtedly comes from the root word nest, meaning "a structure or place made by a bird for sheltering its young." Sound familiar?


Nesting is a fantastic opportunity to take care of any fundamental responsibilities before it's baby time. This is one pregnancy symptom that isn’t so bad, so if it happens to you, enjoy it and get some work done, girl!

Nesting Pregnancy

When Does Nesting Happen?

The nesting instinct can actually hit you at any time during pregnancy, but most women state it occurs in their last trimester. This is because you’re slowly approaching your due date and probably experiencing inspiration, excitement, and maybe impatience. You have all the stuff you need (crib, changing table, diapers etc.), so the only thing left to do is wait for baby! The anticipation of a newborn would make anyone restless. It’s like waiting for Christmas morning, but not knowing when Christmas will come. 

Nesting Pregnant Woman

Does Nesting Happen to Everyone?

Are you worried because you haven’t experienced the intensity of the nesting power yet? Not to fret… nesting does not happen to everyone. You might just be a busy person or pregnancy fatigue has taken a toll on you. It does not mean you are not excited nor ready for your little bundle of joy.

In different circumstances, women report that they’ve experienced nesting multiple times throughout their pregnancy. This can absolutely happen, especially if you've got idle hands and are easily triggered by boredom. It doesn't mean anything is wrong, so keep up the hustle, mama. 


Bottom line, whether you experience nesting or not, it is totally normal. 

Cleaning While Pregnant

What Are Some Signs of Nesting?

How do I know if it's really nesting? Nesting comes in various forms for anyone who experiences it. 


You might decide to clean the whole house (which isn't a bad idea considering you won't have much time once you have the baby). 


Maybe you go through your closet and start tossing clothes, shoes, and purses you don’t need anymore because they don’t fit or because you want to transition into a more mom-like role. Starting a family is a huge life change, so it’s understandable that you’d want other aspects of your life to change as well.

Other undertakings include painting the nursery, arranging the baby clothes into drawers, organizing the fridge, preparing frozen meals for the fourth trimester, cleaning in excess, and decorating the baby's room to look “pinterest-ready.” 

It’s not unusual that pregnant women also rearrange and re-organize rooms they have already cleaned. It’s about getting things just right for baby. Personally, it took me a couple of tries to get the crib in the perfect place in my baby’s room (but don’t worry, I did not do any of the heavy lifting).


Any activity that you might consider going slightly "overboard" compared to your typical day's worth of cleaning qualifies as nesting.

Pregnant Woman Building Crib


Is Nesting Real?

So you might be wondering... is there any science behind this nesting thing or is it all in our heads?


The answer is yes. It's real.


In accordance with a research study conducted at McMaster University in 2013, nesting is "...not irrational, but an adaptive behavior stemming from humans’ evolutionary past." According to researchers, pregnant participants of the study (most frequently in their third trimester) exhibited compulsive behaviors of cleaning and organizing their households.


Driven by the need to protect and prepare for their baby, soon-to-be mamas instinctively try to create a safe environment for their children before they arrive. 

nesting instinct


Is Nesting a Sign of Labor?

Does nesting mean that labor is around the corner?


Yes and no.


As mentioned earlier, nesting can happen at any time. This means it is not necessarily a sign of labor because if you're nesting at 20 weeks pregnant, you're not going into labor anytime soon (hopefully not, anyway).


However, it has been recorded by women in their third trimester that nesting is a sure-sign that "d-day" is approaching. Nesting doesn't indicate that labor is immediately impending... but rather it could be a few days.


Generally speaking, if you wake up one morning with the sudden urge to dust your trophies and scrub the bathroom floor, you are almost there! Hang on just a little bit longer, try to enjoy every moment, and maybe conserve some of that energy for childbirth.

happy pregnant woman


Do Dads Experience Nesting?

Because nesting is more of an instinct and less of a symptom, yes, husbands, partners, and even families who are adopting are all capable of experiencing nesting!


This is great news for so many reasons. For dads who are seeking a way to be more involved with pregnancy, nesting is their ticket in. Dads can shop, clean, organize, and really tap into their natural desire to protect their little one.


It's also fantastic news for mamas-to-be because you can delegate without feeling guilty (not that you should feel guilty in the first place for asking people to help you out)! You have full permission to give your partner chores, especially ones that aren't safe for a pregnant woman to complete, such as cleaning the oven, moving heavy furniture, or anything that requires a ladder. 

pregnant wife and husband

So there you have it. 

Nesting may or may not happen to you, but it is common amongst pregnancies. In my opinion, it's a blessing before "motivation to clean" becomes something of the past.


My advice to you is: bask in the momentary liveliness of nesting, satisfy the urge to make yourself feel ready, and don’t become too frustrated with still being pregnantyour baby will arrive when he or she is supposed to.


Office On Women's Health, Labor and birth, June 2018.

Mayo Clinic, Signs of Labor: Know What to Expect, June 2016.

American Pregnancy Association, Nesting During Pregnancy

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  • Samantha Colandrea
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