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Nesting During Pregnancy: What It Is, Plus 12 Tips For Making The Most Of It

Pregnant woman nesting

Once you get toward the end of your nine months of pregnancy, you might find yourself constantly in the mood to organize, clean, and arrange the nursery. This is what many people call nesting, and it’s quite common! 

Some people think nesting is a built-in maternal instinct while others aren’t so sure. Either way, many pregnant moms turn into busy bees in the last trimester of pregnancy.

If this is you and you’re wondering what exactly nesting is and how to use that urge to your advantage, you’re in the right place.

What Is Nesting?

Nesting can seem like a strange and mysterious thing, but it’s not all that complicated. During the third trimester, many pregnant women get the urge to clean, organize, and prepare their baby’s nursery — basically to feather their human nest!

That is what we call nesting.

It’s common, but it doesn’t happen to every pregnant mom, so don’t be surprised if nesting doesn’t come knocking at your door.

Plus, nesting can take many forms — it’s not just about cleaning and organizing. You might find yourself going through closets, cooking, buying more baby things, folding and refolding clothes, rearranging furniture, decorating the nursery, or stocking up on baby essentials.

woman ironing baby clothes while nesting
Is nesting a natural, maternal instinct? It might be.

There aren’t many scientific studies about nesting, but one published in Evolution & Human Behavior found that many pregnant women experience a surge of energy and the compulsion to do some sort of cleaning, organizing, and preparing in the later stages of pregnancy.

Whether or not nesting is hard-wired into women, the urge to get your house ready is a good desire to create a safe, healthy, protected space for your family and your new little one.

Basically, it’s like an internal timer telling your body to get ready to welcome your new baby because it knows that it won’t be able to do much (if any) of the nesting things after your baby’s arrival!

Nesting will also help you prepare emotionally to welcome your baby into your heart and home!

No matter what nesting looks like for you, we’ve come up with a few tips to help you make the most of it and your last trimester so that you will feel on top of things and ready for your baby’s arrival.

Note: If the nesting phase never kicks in for you, that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful in caring for your baby. Don’t beat yourself up!

Some women get the urge to clean and organize, while other women get the urge to sit on the couch and watch TV or read a good book. Both are OK and normal.

Common Nesting Questions

crib in nursery after parents started nesting

What Are The Signs Of Nesting?

Some women are natural organizers, so it’s hard to tell if your organizing is just part of who you are or if you’re actually in the nesting phase. To determine whether or not you’re in the nesting phase, check out these surefire indicators.

Everything Must Be Clean...And You Can’t Stop

If you’re an organized person, straightening up is probably already part of your daily routine. This would include picking up things off the floor, making sure everything is in its place, dusting, doing the dishes, folding laundry, and we could go on.

But with nesting, you might catch yourself eyeing spots in your home that you never noticed before. Every nook and cranny HAS to get cleaned. With nesting, you also don’t see an end in sight. It’s like Cleaning 2.0.

Laundry is huge, too. Every single piece of clothing, towel, blanket, sheet — you name it — must be cleaned. This is nesting.

You Have To Have It

All of a sudden you notice yourself searching for random items: a baby hat, a new dishcloth, decor items, kitchen items, and so on.

You don’t feel like you can live without this one particular item. It’s a must-have without really being a must-have.

Rearranging Your House

Obviously, getting the nursery set up is priority number one during your nesting phase. But it doesn’t stop there. Now you want to rearrange your bedroom, the living room, and any other room in the house that you can get your hands on (safely).

Organizing Clothes

You start to get a little emotional once you see your baby’s clothes. Your dream of holding your sweet baby will be a reality before you know it. With nesting, you’ll want to find a home for every piece of clothing.

You may start tidying up the dresser drawers and organizing the space, making sure it’s perfect for your little one. But it doesn’t have to be! After all, they won’t remember what their nursery looked like or how organized (or disorganized) their drawers were.

What they will remember is the love, care, and attention you gave to them! That’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re nesting: giving love, care, and attention to their space (or your entire home).

The love, care, and attention you give to your home is the same love, care, and attention you’ll give to your baby!

mom folding laundry and nesting

Stocking Up

Stocking up on nursery items, pantry items, and fridge items is a tell-tale sign of nesting. You want to make sure you have enough of everything for when your baby makes their arrival.

The only problem is if you stock your pantry and fridge too soon, your stash will probably dwindle down before the big day. After all, you are pregnant and still eating for two!

So during the nesting phase, you may restock your pantry and fridge several times before your baby arrives!

Having Obsessive Thoughts

If you were prone to anxiety before your pregnancy, your nesting phase may ramp up your anxious thoughts. With nesting, you’ll catch yourself obsessing over every little detail. It’s important to catch yourself when this happens.

Discuss this with your doctor if you’re losing sleep over it and it becomes something you can’t control. We’ll talk more about how to manage your anxiety later on.

Planning

Like we mentioned earlier, some women are natural organizers, and planning can be part of that. But nesting takes planning to a whole new level!

You may start planning for nursing and birthing classes, figuring out your birth plan, and selecting a pediatrician.

These are good things that should be done before your baby’s arrival, but with nesting, you’ll want all of this planned out right then and there...in one afternoon. Your mind may start to get consumed with all the little details of planning.

Again, if this gets to be too much and you begin having obsessive thoughts, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

Is Nesting A Sign Of Labor?

Yes and no. Just because you’re nesting doesn’t mean you’re going into labor soon. And just because you’re nesting doesn’t mean you won’t go into labor soon.

Some women get a jolt of energy that lasts for weeks, maybe even months. On the other hand, some women only get a jolt of energy (if any) just a day or two before they go into labor.

Bottom line: there’s no rhyme or reason with nesting. It varies from woman to woman.

12 Tips To Make The Most Of Nesting

These tips are designed to help you channel your nesting instinct into productive activities that will help you get ready for your baby’s arrival with no task left behind!

That being said, you don’t want to spend your entire third trimester running around the house cleaning and organizing. It’s also important to rest and take care of yourself and your relationships with friends, family, and your partner.

Keeping all of these things in mind, here are 12 tips to make the most of nesting.

pregnant couple cuddling

1) Manage Anxiety

It’s one thing to stay occupied during the day with all the things you want to accomplish before your baby arrives. It’s another thing to be anxious about your to-do list — or to be generally anxious — to the point of losing sleep at night.

If you find yourself with unusually anxious thoughts or having trouble sleeping at night (other than the typical discomfort of third trimester sleep!), you’ll want to step back and make some changes.

Here are a few ways to reevaluate and manage overactive nesting urges:

  • Talk to your partner about things
  • Make a manageable to-do list for each day with only the necessary tasks
  • Ask for help from friends or family members
  • Stay active and get some light exercise
  • Find a way to relax and enjoy yourself every day

2) Get Some Rest

All through your pregnancy, you’ve taken care of yourself and your body by eating well, staying active, and going to the doctor.

Don’t stop now! Good self-care is still important and will continue to be once your baby arrives.

While your nesting urges might be strong, don’t forget that your belly is big and you’re in the final stretch of pregnancy. Make time to put your feet up and get some much-needed rest.

Put self-care on your to-do list and check it off every day!

Pregnant woman having a self care day while nesting

3) Stay In Tune With Your Body

We just talked about managing your anxiety and getting some rest, which can be hard to do when you’re nine months pregnant! But listen to your body.

Nesting — specifically cleaning and organizing — can actually help some women manage their anxiety and stress. But cleaning and organizing can also cause some women anxiety and stress.

This is why it’s important to stay in tune with your body. You can determine whether your nesting is actually calming you down or giving you anxiety.

4) Pack Your Hospital Bag

Your third trimester is when you’ll want to pack your hospital bag, so why not take advantage of nesting energy to get this important task done?

There may be a few items you want to wait until the last minute to pack, but otherwise, you can pack your bag and then let it sit until the big day comes.

Make sure you think of all the things you might need or want at the hospital, like your pillow, slippers, copies of your birth plan, and the clothes you want to labor in! Check out our complete list here.

5) Pack Things For Your Baby

When packing your hospital bag, it’s important to also remember to pack those cute, tiny clothes that you’ll want for your baby’s first days on this planet.

If you have a special going-home outfit, don’t forget to put that in your hospital bag, too. And if you’re planning on doing newborn photos at the hospital, you may also want a special swaddle or something similar.

Check out Newton Baby’s cute Organic Swaddle Blankets. The 100% organic muslin cotton is cozy for your baby and machine washable for ultra-easy care.

Choose from four different adorable patterns to suit your style. Plus, these swaddle blankets are multipurpose and can double as a light blanket, burp cloth, or nursing cover. Don’t get caught without one!

baby wrapped up in an organic swaddle blanket

6) Finish Your Nursery

Finishing your nursery might already be on the top of your nesting list, and understandably so! Decorating and outfitting your baby’s nursery is not only fun, but it’s also important since you and your little one will spend lots of time in this room.

If you’re nesting, you probably want to finish every single little project. If that’s possible, great! If not, don’t stress about it.

The most important things are that your little one has a safe place to sleep and that you have gathered all of the baby essentials, like onesies, bottles, and diaper wipes.

If you don’t have your little one’s crib and crib mattress yet, make that a priority! Choose a crib that’s up to safety standards and opt for a breathable mattress, like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress.

Our two-stage infant and toddler crib mattress comes in both miniature and standard sizes to fit whatever crib suits your nursery best.

The Newton Baby Crib Mattress is 100% breathable thanks to our Wovenaire® Core, which is 90% air and 10% food-grade polymer, making it much more breathable than leading organic mattresses! This is one nursery decision that isn’t hard!

Crib mattress with Wovenaire core

7) Wash Baby Clothes And Linens

One thing that is definitely worth doing while you’re nesting: baby laundry!

Once your baby arrives, the dirty laundry will be endless. But still, it’s a good idea to do a couple of loads now to get things in order for your little one’s arrival.

Wash all of the tiny socks, onesies, bibs, swaddles, and hats so they’re ready for your baby to wear. You’ll also want to wash linens like their crib sheets and any baby blankets you might have.

That brings us to our next point.

8) Put The Sheets On The Crib

A couple of weeks before your due date, it’s time to wash your baby’s sheets and put them on their crib! You don’t want to be left with a bare crib at the last minute if your little one decides to make an early appearance.

Choose natural, breathable crib sheets, like Newton Baby’s Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets. They come in four different patterns to choose from and two different sizes, but all of them are cozy, hypoallergenic, breathable, and washable!

Baby crawling in crib

9) Install The Car Seat

You don’t need 100 children’s books to be ready for your baby. You do, however, need the essentials, like a safe crib mattress, diapers, feeding supplies, and a car seat.

And when it comes to the car seat, you need to do more than just purchase it — you also need to install it!

Most hospitals won’t let you go home without a car seat that’s correctly installed, so go ahead and put it in place a few weeks before your due date. Besides, driving around with your baby’s car seat will just get you that more excited about their coming arrival!

10) Make A Nesting Plan

As crazy as it sounds, making a nesting plan can be really helpful. Give yourself an hour or two each day to “nest” rather than trying to get everything done in one day (if you have the time!).

Make a list of top priorities, like getting a safe nursery set up with our Breathable Crib Mattress and having the hospital bag ready.

After those two things are checked off your list, think beyond the nursery. If you’re going to breastfeed your baby, plan for it. Make sure you have a breast pump, nursing pillow, and milk storage bags before you go into labor.

Think about other things that are true must-dos. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the little details while you’re nesting, and sometimes you can overlook the big details in your preparations.

Making a nesting plan will help keep you on track and weed out what doesn’t necessarily have to be done right away.

We suggest starting with categories for your lists — like home preparations, nursery preparations, and self preparations — and going from there.

11) Set Up Your Baby’s Space In Your Room

When you’re nesting, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on your baby’s nursery. But, honestly, they won’t spend too much time in their room at first.

When you bring your baby home from the hospital, they’ll probably sleep in your room according to the AAP recommendations of sharing a room with your baby for the first six months.

Don’t overlook their space in your room. Make the most of your time nesting by setting up this area. Use a bassinet, mini crib, or crib as a safe sleeping surface for your baby.

Arrange this area to be comfortable and practical for you and your baby.

Mom kissing newborn

12) Cook And Clean

Doing some cooking and cleaning is basically a given when it comes to nesting. And doing a bit of both is a good idea!

Stocking up on freezer meals will serve you well in the weeks after delivery, also known as the fourth trimester. And having a clean house to come home to after your hospital stay is a great way to start your new life!

But when it comes to cleaning before your baby’s arrival, do what you can and then ask for help or hire a professional cleaner to take care of what you can’t get to.

Nesting Tips For Dads Or Other Supporters

While dads don’t “nest,” they can help you, the mom, prepare.

It’s important for dads and other family members or friends to understand what exactly nesting is so they can better understand you and why all of a sudden you’re getting this urge to do everything...at once.

Nesting is more than just a physical preparation for moms. It’s a mental preparation as well. Dads don’t feel this urge, but they can support you in all that you’re trying to do.

For example, it’s not the best idea for you to paint the nursery when you’re pregnant. Most paints are safe for moms-to-be, but the task itself can sometimes be taxing on your body.

Putting the nursery furniture together is something else moms maybe shouldn’t do. This is why you should consider enlisting help.

If dad isn’t around or you’re planning on raising your little one on your own, don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends or family during your nesting phase.

Invest In Your Nest

Parents looking over baby in nursery created by moms nesting

Nesting helps you to create a safe, warm, welcoming environment for your little one.

As long as you don’t drive yourself crazy or wear yourself out, your nesting urge can help you to check off necessary tasks before your baby’s arrival.

Keep our tips in mind to be productive and make the most of your nesting energy. And if nothing else, invest your nesting energy into setting up a crib with Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress so your little one has a safe place to lay their head when they arrive at their new home!

Happy nesting!

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