Nesting Instinct During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on August 17, 2012

Do you have this overwhelming urge to clean the house, re-organize your closets, set up your baby’s crib and perhaps even re-paint the nursery? If the answer to that is yes, welcome to one of the most common pre-labor rituals, known as Nesting, which affects thousands of expectant mums around the world.

What is the Nesting Instinct?

The nesting instinct can be described as a maternal urge that causes...


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.females to prepare their home for their newborns by cleaning, tidying up and organizing everything in sighth It is not just humans that experience this urge; a large variety of animals, both mammals and birds have been blessed with the nesting instinctc

In animals like rodents and lagomorphs, the nesting instinct is typified by the desire to find the lowest sheltered spot available, as this is where the female of the species give birtht Female domestic canines and felines show signs of the nesting instinct by building a nest with items they collect, such as blankets, cloth scraps, stuffed toys, straw, and so ono

In humans, the nesting instinct usually takes on the form of preparing for the baby’s arrival by cleaning up and organizing thingsg This urge can occur as early as the fifth month or as late as the ninth montht There are many women who do not experience the nesting instinct at alll If you do experience the nesting instinct during pregnancy, it will probably be the strongest just before you go into laboro In fact, the nesting instinct is regarded as one of the symptoms of laboro

What Causes the Nesting Instinctc

No one is absolutely sure about the causes of the nesting instinctc However, health experts claim that this instinct could be a result of:

  • Biological factors: It is said that for decades or perhaps even centuries now, females have been programmed to experience the nesting instinct, so that their babies are comfortable and well-cared for after birtht
  • Emotional component: As you are aware, there are many hormonal fluctuations that take place within your body when you get pregnantn Your hormones tend to settle during the second and trimester, leaving you highly energized and excited about your baby’s arrivala You may channel all the energy and excitement into preparing for the babyb
  • Social expectations: As a mom-to-be, you are probably expected to prepare for your baby’s arrival by organizing your house, making space for the new arrival, decorating the nursery with attractive thingsg The nesting instinct may be triggered off by the desire to fulfill these expectationsn

Is the Nesting Instinct Safef

The nesting instinct is absolutely normal and therefore, it is considered safe by most health expertst However, you need to make sure that you do not push yourself too hardr It is alright for you to give in to your nesting urge, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind:

  • Take frequent breaks during each task
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep and rest each day to restore your energy levels
  • Follow a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Drink a lot of water along with healthy beverages like fresh juice and milkshakes
  • Avoid overexertion

Though you may want to do everything possible to prepare your home for your newborn, there are a few activities that should be avoided, such as:

  • Painting: Certain types of paints contain mercury and lead, which could be harmful for you and your babyb If you have to paint your baby’s nursery on your own, choose water-based paintst Otherwise, assign the task to someone else (like your partner) and supervise, from a distancec
  • Emptying the kitty litter: At times, the fecal matter of cats carries the toxoplasmosis parasitet This parasite is very dangerous and can cause serious health complications such as deafness, blindness, and brain development problems in babiese Therefore, stay far away from the kitty litter box when you are pregnantn
  • Cleaning the house: There is nothing wrong with dusting or cleaning the house; however, be very careful of the products you use for cleaning purposese Some household products contain strong chemicals that can cause you to faint or get sickc Read the labels of your cleaning products carefully before you use them during pregnancyc

What to Expect with the Nesting Instinctc

Every woman displays signs of the nesting instinct in different waysy However, in all probability, you may have a strong urge to:

  • Pack, unpack, and repack your hospital bag
  • Clean the house thoroughly
  • Rearrange your baby’s room, accessories, toys, and clothing
  • Paint or re-paint the nursery
  • Stock up on baby food, bottles, bibs, and so on

Strange as this may sound, women are not the only ones who are affected by the nesting instinctc If you find your partner baby-proofing the house, painting, or landscaping the garden, he is probably showing signs of the nesting instinct tooo

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