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If you wake up with a sick need to mop your floors, tidy up your baby’s chest of drawers filled with onesies, and repack your hospital bag for the – ugh – ninth time, the sweet mommy phenomenon commonly referred to as “nesting” may be coming your way.

That natural instinct is well known as an intense need to care for and ready your baby’s area.

This may be channeled into:

  • Clean.
  • Manage.
  • Making birth arrangements.
  • Restricting your social meetings.

It can even have the form of keeping your home protected from the coming of your little bundle.

But is the nesting determined by nature or parenting? And might it indicate a “sign” that baby is arriving very soon, like your grandmother probably told you?

If you get the feeling that you are heading into the nesting season, cuddle up, mom – this is natural. Let’s take a closer look at why it could be happening, what it could signify, and the healthy way of getting through it.

Nesting Instinct During Pregnancy

The term nesting is a pretty broad one, and not a lot of study has yet gone into the “nesting urge” experienced by some expecting women.
If you experience uncommon surges of energy throughout your pregnancy and feel the need to get your house in order and tidy up in readiness for the coming of your baby, chances are you are among the pregnant women who are experiencing what is generally termed “nesting.”

This nesting phase of pregnancy can also mean that you get choosier when it comes to the company you keep. For instance, perhaps you would like to hang out only with people you trust.

So what triggers nesting patterns during pregnancy?

According to some scientists, nesting is a pattern of behavior that could have originated from our early ancestors. Basically, it is the need to establish a secure surrounding for you and your baby.
The nesting instinct might also come from the practical necessity of gathering everything you need to take care of your baby and establishing a safe place for your baby to sleep.

When do pregnant women start nesting?

Almost everything you do during your pregnancy to prepare for the birth of your baby can be called nesting. For many expectant mothers, nesting activities become more intense at the beginning of the third trimester and may increase as the due date approaches.

If this is the case for you, you should indulge your nesting instincts while saving energy for labor and the birth of your new baby.

When does nesting start in pregnancy?

The findings of a 2013 review of two studies – the first a long-term research study of pregnant women up to the delivery period and the other an online questionnaire which compared the answers of both pregnant and non-pregnant women – indicate that women’s nesting habits are at their maximum in the third trimester.

The research also identified nesting patterns as spatial readiness and a greater level of selection in their attitudes toward social interactions and the outside world.

Curiously, the gestational hormone estrogen, which levels tend to reach their high point in the third trimester, could play a role in this motherly nesting baby preparation. That sudden surge of stamina that has you dusting off from dusk to dawn? It could be because estrogen increases your physical activity and energy levels.

Also, while the more usual period for nesting happens to be the final several weeks before delivery, it may be noticeable anytime throughout pregnancy or after birth – as well as never at all. Besides, people who aren’t expecting might be experiencing nesting.

How long does nesting last

Pregnancy nesting checklist

Nesting usually occurs towards the end of the pregnancy. It starts when all the major issues are already done, including hospital visits, picking a birthing team, registrations, and baby showers. Some people think that the beginning of nesting signifies labor is right around the corner. Even though this is not true, it’s amazing to be enveloped by a sea of neatness and organization by the time your baby is due!

The Nesting Basics

  • Write a birth plan.
  • Prepare birth bag.
  • Create a phone list for calls/text messages (while in labor or after the baby comes).
  • Swab the house – Begin in each room upstairs and working your way to the bottoms. Meaning fans, cabinets, bookcases, and windows are cleaned out first, to be followed by walls, mirrors, countertops, vanities, restrooms, furnishings, etc. Next, get to work on baseboards and floors.
  • Do the cleaning under sofas and cushions.
  • Get to work on the minivan – your car is never going to be the same after kids (believe us). You can either pay to get it detailed a final time, otherwise do the work yourself, but make sure you clean it up.
  • Fit the car seat.
  • Get the car seat inspected for correct installation.
  • Furnish baby’s room.
  • Review a workbook.
  • Tidy up all the cupboards.
  • Washing baby clothing.
  • Wash the sheets every week (to ensure they will be clean when you get into them after delivery).
  • Writing down the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Making thank you cards for gifts.
  • Get lab snacks.
  • Do all the washing.
  • Complete all pending household projects.
  • Stock up on baby items.
  • Complete any uncompleted things at work (if any).
  • Put a full tank of gas in the car.

What activities can you do if you get the nesting urge?

Nesting can feel really intense, therefore it’s great to understand what activities you can enjoy when the nesting urge occurs:

  • Go crazy with a list. In fact, there’s something really rewarding about keeping your to-dos well organized on a list, and ticking off accomplished tasks may feel even more satisfying. To ease you into the journey below is a great list of checklists for your baby’s new arrival.
  • Buying. Consider all the items you need or want for your baby and spend some time doing research (the highest quality, the perfect color, as well as the proper cost) before making your ultimate shopping decisions. No matter if it’s the perfect baby bouncer, a changing bag, or the world’s prettiest tiny shoes, you’ll be comfortable knowing you have the items you’ve been planning to buy for a while. When you get the impulse to load up on diapers, convert those diapers into cash savings and rewards.
  • Use your inner chef. Making meals in huge batches could really pay off once your baby is delivered. Prepare big batches of your preferred meals and then freeze them so that after your baby is delivered, you no longer need to stress about meal preparation. As soon as your newborn is at home, you’ll really enjoy the time you have to concentrate on your baby or catch up on a little extra sleep rather than having to cook supper.
  • Tidy. The wish to get things sparkling clean prior to your baby’s arrival is a handy necessity. Perhaps you would like a spotless bathroom, or perhaps having all the baseboards in the house cleaned off might sound appealing. However, you decide to do it, keeping everything clean can be a wonderful feeling when you come back home with your new baby on your arm.
  • Organize. The need to become organized is particularly distinctive during the nesting period. Perhaps it’s time to organize the cans in the food pantry by alphabet or ensure all the baby shower gifts have been moved into their correct place. You might also like to wash, fold, and arrange all of your baby’s outfits so that they are just the right way in your baby’s dresser drawers.
  • Complete your birth plan. A birth plan is an overview of your priorities for labor, birth, and the immediate care of your newborn in the hospital or birth center.
  • Pack up. Perhaps you would like to focus your efforts on getting your hospital bag packed or your baby’s changing bag loaded, for instance. You will need to get packing sometime anyway, so now could be the perfect time to make sure you take care of it.

Does nesting mean labor is near

For many moms-to-be, the nesting phase of pregnancy can mean peace and happiness and a bit of stress, as the urge is usually known to come in the latter stages of pregnancy. You’re preparing and getting organized for your newborn because you know he or she is going to be in your arms very soon, though does nesting mean that labor is about to start? Will there be a possibility to really count the time? When you sort your future baby’s rompers based on color and brand, does that mean your water is close to breaking? (Hey, one more reason to keep ignoring the washing).

As per the American Pregnancy Association (APA), mothers-to-be often experience a spontaneous rush to get their home ready for their new baby. This drive, commonly known as nesting, is most intense in the last weeks of pregnancy, right before the baby is born. The APA explains that not every expectant woman will experience nesting, though, and for the most part, there is no possible clue as to why it happens. With some women, nesting behavior may be caused by the time of year, like spring and summer, while for others it could be due to the boredom of pregnancy, or it may be a move to keep things in order in expectation of the chaos that comes with having a baby. However, is there a certain time frame between nesting and labor that may suggest when you will deliver?

The APA remarked that there might be an old wives’ tale that states that the need to nest means your labor is coming on soon.

According to gynecologist Mary O’Toole of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, no matter when you begin nesting, you have no actual method of determining when your labor is going to start. “It’s difficult to predict how soon after nesting you will go into labor simply by not knowing precisely what induces labor,” O’Toole states. “It might be a day, or it could take weeks.”

Symptoms of nesting

You will definitely have energy highs and lows all throughout your pregnancy. However, you may very well have a period when you get sudden bursts of energy and concentration that appear nearly superhuman. If this is the situation, you are likely nesting. Yep, it’s for real! The nesting urge can kick in at any stage of pregnancy, though for some women, it’s a signal that labor is approaching. The following are 10 signs that you’re nesting before the baby is born.

  1. You need to get it all cleaned up. We aren’t only referring to routine cleaning up, vacuuming, dishwashing, etc. This is intensive, rigorous cleaning. You’ll have to reach into the tiniest cracks of your home and swab surfaces you may have never seen before.
  2. And you. Simple. Can. not. Stop. Meaning you are getting your hands messy at 3 am making the bathroom sparkling clean because you’re already up anyway. Well, why not, right?
  3. You need to do the washing. All the washing. One more urge that can hit way before the break of dawn, and that can mean you do loads of clothes, towels, blankets, outdoor pillows, hey, right, why not?
  4. You are hunting for that housewares item you never realized you wanted until now. A salad serving dish. A set of pliers. A new set of silverware. A placemat. Anything, in fact, isn’t really important.
  5. But you have to get it. Your home – and thus your life after giving birth – won’t be perfect without it.
  6. You insist that the child’s room has to be completed … in a day. Laid out! Assembled with all furniture! Plus, made baby-safe to top it all off!
  7. Talking about furniture, you keep moving everything around, throughout the house. Anything in the kitchen, baths, and bedrooms needs to be moved. A minimum of 25 times.
  8. When you have an older kid, you forcefully organize his/her wardrobe. Neither you nor a big brother/sister will be ready for the L.O. unless every tiny t-shirt, a pair of shorts, dress, and even Halloween costume is properly filed and put away.
  9. You need all the cookbooks all of a sudden. Even if you’re not going to make anything out of them. You need to have a go-to collection, STAT.
  10. You are being driven to declutter. Who needs the KonMari approach when you are in your third trimester and looking to clear your home of unneeded stuff?
  11. Then again, you might be shopping for all the stuff. Not only baby stuff, no. Perhaps some new bedsheets, a beautiful new floor mat, all the organic cleaners! Look. Be prepared! You just don’t know what the baby may need. Not to even talk about what is going to save your sanity once he or she is in your arms at last.

How long does nesting last

The nesting process begins around the late third trimester, roughly the 38th or 39th week of pregnancy, or a couple of weeks before your due date.

Though you may be reaching for a feather duster sooner than real feathers, the nesting urge can be as powerful in humans as in our animal friends. It’s nature’s way of getting you ready to deliver a baby: A rush of adrenaline flowing through your body around 38 or 39 weeks of pregnancy probably adds to that ultimate thrill, though the emotional drivers are equally powerful.

It’s also productive – it spurs many moms-to-be to clean out the garage, collect all the lost socks that have strayed into the laundry room’s Bermuda Triangle, meltdown the frost-free fridge, and refresh the grout in the bathroom by brushing with a toothbrush. However, don’t be upset if the nesting instinct fails to overcome you at all. That’s completely healthy, too, and doesn’t say anything about the type of mother or father you will be.

If the nesting instinct overtakes you right when you’re getting ready to give birth, take advantage of it now – right before life becomes too busy, and it becomes difficult to find a time to shower (and wash up properly).

Just be reasonable: don’t rock climb, overstretch, or pick up something too heavy. Also, try to refrain from risky endeavors such as standing on a ladder to swab the bathroom ceiling…. again. In addition, be sure to get plenty of rest and a snack often. You definitely don’t want to push it this close to birth – and to be honest, you have to save up some of that additional energy!

When do pregnant women start nesting?

Tips for dealing with the nesting urge

Nesting during pregnancy is in no way a bad experience. The greatest dangers are spending excessive energy before your baby is due and becoming obsessed with each small detail. By learning how to satisfy your nesting instincts efficiently, you can have a stress-free end to your pregnancy. Getting a couple of items completed on your to-do list is a smart way to get a handle on your propensity to cleaning, organizing, and prepping, but it’s essential to learn how to pace yourself.

Prevent burnout or injury by taking these tips for nesting during pregnancy:

  • Avoid lifting any heavy items to avoid muscle strains and hernias.
  • Use cleaners made from natural ingredients rather than strong chemicals.
  • Refrain from getting on high objects like ladders as it changes your balance.
  • To save energy for labor and the newborn, have adequate sleep and avoid stressing over small duties.
  • Take the help of other people to take some work of yourself.

Tips for a productive nesting

Feeding your nesting instincts while staying on track and not getting overboard is essential to prevent physical or emotional stress or injury.
If you catch yourself obsessively cleaning the exact same item in five different ways of trying to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to organize the kids’ room decorations, it might be time to review your well-being and incorporate these tips for nesting safely while not feeling overloaded.

  • Put limits on nesting activities

Doing things like moving furniture or mopping the floor can be hard on your body during pregnancy. Establish a timer to remind you to pause to stretch, catch some fresh air, or put your feet up.
Additionally, refrain from picking up anything too heavy, as this could result in overexertion or injury. Also, keep in mind that when cleaning using chemicals or solvents, you need to wear protective gloves and be in a properly ventilated area.

  • Be attentive to your emotions

At times, nesting may be a productive management mechanism to deal with stress or fears. Being pregnant can bring up a lot of these feelings around the upcoming birth and the passage to motherhood.

When you feel overcome, nesting may be a great escape valve, but you may also need to consult with your OB/GYN, nurse-midwife, or another trusted person.

  • Have a plan for nesting time

Rather than being confronted with a discouraging list of nesting duties, create a plan that prioritizes the duties in a more realistic time period. By doing this, you will not feel so hurried to complete everything in one go. It will also serve to help you get your surroundings ready positively.

  • Concentrate on your needs

It’s quite easy for nesting to become completely about the baby, but keep in mind that you need a little self-love, too. Take time to take care of yourself while you get ready for the delivery and becoming a new mom. Perhaps it’s a prenatal massage, a pedicure, a night out with a friend, a couple of new outfits for after birth, or a dentist visit that you’ve been putting off – whatever it is, make nesting your thing, too.

  • Rely on your instincts

Along with pregnancy may come plenty of advice from family, friends, and even absolute outsiders. While some of it may be welcomed, a few may appear pushy or confusing.
When others push you to nest or do pre-pregnancy activities that are not consistent with your timing and values, it’s fine to give thanks, but say no thanks. Speak with your OB/GYN or midwife for informed health advice, and realize that you are the ultimate expert in what will feel right for you and your baby.


Nesting is a natural urge experienced by lots of moms-to-be, most often in the last trimester. While it may include a wide range of activities and attitudes, the core impulse is to take control of your surroundings to provide a secure, calming, and inviting space for both baby and maternity.
Nesting may be a healthy way to deal with pre-birth nervousness, but when it turns into anything that harms your physical or mental well-being or causes you to worry, talking to your OB/GYN or midwife for assistance and instruction is essential.

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Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams

Hi! I'm Vanessa! I keep this blog about babies' products.

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