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Nesting Instinct During Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Motivation to Prepare Baby's Environment

Learn about the crazy things nesting mothers do?

There is a phenomenon commonly seen in pregnant women which involves a need and motivation to prepare baby's environment just prior to delivery day which is similar to the way a mother bird will prepare a nest just before laying her eggs. Like a mother bird who will not let anything stop her from building as perfect an environment as possible for her soon-to-be-hatched babies, human mothers (even disorganized ones or those who are usually unconcerned with domestic activity) often feel compelled to get their homes in order.

Some women have been nesting for years, compiling lists of baby names, choosing color schemes, accumulating beautiful handmade sweater sets well in advance of even broaching the subject of starting a family.

When you chose your home did you consider the quality of the school district? Was your partner's wonderful parenting potential part of your attraction? Those are all related to nesting, and even to the end of pregnancy nesting instinct, but loosely so. Note the word loosely. If you never thought about school districts or baby names before they were necessary to think about, that doesn't mean your baby's nest will be any less soft and warm than any other baby's.

What sort of things do nesting mothers do? Put together cribs without any assistance?

Not a good idea, but it's been done. How does washing, folding, and putting away every single item of layette clothing received at the baby shower all in one day sound? Sure, you're tired now, but don't be surprised if you find yourself doing it. Marathon cleaning? We're talking cleaning things that haven't been cleaned in months (nine???) despite swollen feet, an aching back, and a cumbersome figure. Some women cook meals to be frozen. Not just a couple of meals, many meals...weeks worth of meals if the freezer will allow it.

These marathon nesting sessions are more than the everyday planning and activity that go into getting ready for a new arrival. Even women who have accomplished all their getting ready for baby organization tasks may find themselves obsessively folding and refolding receiving blankets and hooded towels or addressing thank you card envelopes for gifts which will not even come until baby arrives.

Interestingly, and not so coincidentally, a nesting flurry is often hours or days away from delivery. Is it psychological or triggered by something physical? It's probably a bit of both.

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