Have you noticed that you have the urge to clean everything in sight lately? Are you rushing around your house, completing the ironing, reorganizing the cupboards, or color-coding your wardrobe? If so, then you might be experiencing what is commonly referred to as the nesting instinct. The nesting instinct is a frequent occurrence throughout pregnancy, and is often a sign that you are about to welcome your baby in to the world! But why do pregnant women experience this nesting instinct and is it safe and healthy for you and baby? Here are some of the basics about the nesting experience during pregnancy!
What is the Nesting Instinct?
The nesting instinct is the name given to the distinctive urge to clean, tidy, and organize that occurs during pregnancy. One of the many pregnancy symptoms that you will experience, the nesting instinct generally kicks in around the fifth month of pregnancy, however it can also occur much earlier or much later. Many women acutely experience the nesting instinct in the
final days of their pregnancy, and this can often be a sign that labor and delivery is close at hand. Nesting tends to vary from woman to woman; in fact, some women don’t experience the nesting instinct at all when they are pregnant. Others experience mild forms of the instinct while others feel the urge much more severely.
What Causes the Nesting Instinct? The nesting urge in pregnancy is thought to be caused by both biological and emotional factors.
Most females in the animal kingdom experience similar patterns of cleaning and preparation when they are pregnant. From birds to bears, female animals appear to have an intrinsic need to prepare ahead of time for their new arrival. It is believed that females are programmed to experience this nesting instinct in order to ensure that their offspring will be cared for properly after birth. By having your baby’s room ready, all her clothes organized, and her meals planned, you are ensuring that your baby will have the best chance for growth and survival after birth.
The nesting instinct probably also involves emotional components as well. Pregnancy is a time of intense hormonal fluctuations, and these changes can cause you to act in crazy ways! As your hormones settle down in the second trimester, you may feel increasingly energized and excited about your baby’s birth. This can incite many women to begin cleaning, organizing, and planning for their baby’s arrival. Furthermore, social expectations also play a role in the nesting instinct. Parents are often expected to do special things for their baby’s arrival, including decorating a nursery, cleaning house, and purchasing new clothes. You should check out trusted reviews for the best baby products you can get for your baby.
Not Just Pregnant Women
Pregnant women aren’t the only people who experience the nesting instinct. Men who are expecting a baby often feel the urge to clean and organize too! Many take a newfound interest in finding a new job, working on their car, or landscaping the garden.
Other times that you may also experience the nesting instinct inlcude:
- at the change of the seasons
- after the loss of a loved one
- when your child heads off to kindergarten or college
What to Expect
Every pregnant woman’s experience with the nesting instinct is different. If you don’t experience the urge to clean or reorganize, you have no reason to feel guilty or abnormal. Many women are simply too tired and worn out by the end of their pregnancy to experience this instinct. If you do experience the nesting instinct, you may find yourself doing some of the following things:
- packing and repacking your labor bag
- cleaning every room in the house
- joining new activities that you were previously uninterested in
- reorganizing your baby’s clothing
- painting and repainting your baby’s nursery
Is the Nesting Instinct Safe?
For the most part, the nesting instinct is a completely safe part of pregnancy. As long as you are enjoying what you are doing and not pushing yourself too hard, you can feel free to indulge in your pregnancy nesting urges. Just be sure to take frequent rest breaks and maintain a proper diet, to ensure that you are getting enough energy. However, there are a few activities that you should try to stay away from when you are pregnant:
- Painting: Many women experience the urge to paint their baby’s nursery during their final months of pregnancy. However, it is best if you resist this urge and assign the painting to someone else in your household. Some oil-based and latex paints contain lead and mercury, which can be dangerous for both you and your baby. If you do have to paint, choose a water-based paint and read the label carefully. Always paint in a well-ventilated area and wear protective clothing and a mask, if necessary.
- Kitty Litter: Though kitty’s box may need cleaning, it is important that you leave this job for your partner or roommate. If your cat goes outdoors, it is possible that he might be infected with toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can be transferred through fecal matter. If your baby contracts this parasite, it can lead to severe health complications, including blindness, deafness, and mental development problems.
- Certain Household Cleaning: Some household cleaning tasks should be avoided during pregnancy (no matter how much you want to do them!). This is because certain cleaners can give off dangerous fumes, which may cause you to faint or become sick. Try to avoid working with oven cleaners and dry cleaning products. Also, never mix any ammonia products with those that contain chlorine, as this can produce toxic fumes. Generally, most household cleaners are safe to use when pregnant. Just be sure to wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.