What is nesting while pregnant? What does it mean? How do I nest?

Ever wondered why moms-to-be get obsessed with organizing, cleaning, and planning? Is nesting motivated by nurture or nature? And is it a sign that your tiny bundle is about to arrive? Read on to find out more about the sweet maternal phenomenon of ‘nesting.’ Nestle in, mama!

If you are pregnant, you might have heard of nesting and have a general idea of what it is. You might also be thinking ‘not me!’. But soon, you might wake up with an unusually strong urge to clean your floors, repack your baby’s bag and organize your hospital bag for the fifth time and you will know that the obsessive yet lovely maternal phenomenon of ‘nesting’ has taken over.

Nesting typically starts in the third trimester and is completely practical and perfectly healthy. It includes some very apparent baby-prep related activities such as buying a baby-crib, decorating the nursery, and organizing baby’s drawers. But nesting may extend to other activities like cleaning, decluttering and organizing finances.

What prompts this instinct?

Maybe organizing, cleaning, and stocking are hardwired in your nature. Perhaps you are already an uber planner and organizer, obsessed with keeping everything spick and span. Or maybe you have acquired this hyper-focused nature to protect your soon-to-be arriving child.

Some studies conclude that nesting is an adaptive behavior for protecting and preparing for the unborn child. Essentially, nesting is about setting and taking control of your child’s environment.

While the definite cause of nesting remains unknown, it is typically linked with hormonal changes during pregnancy. It might also be a coping mechanism for relieving stress and anxiety during pregnancy. 

When does nesting occur?

Researches and surveys conducted on pregnant women revealed that nesting behavior typically peaks in the third trimester. These findings identified baby-prep related activities, selective social interactions, and being particular with surroundings as some of the typical nesting behaviors.

Interestingly enough, a surge of estrogen in the third trimester may also be a contributing factor to this maternal phenomenon. Improved stamina that enables you to clean from dusk to dawn can be associated with estrogen’s ability to improve your energy levels and enhance your physical ability. 

Common Characteristics of Nesting:


Stocking and preparing for everything that you might require after your baby’s birth. How many swaddle blankets will your baby need? Will a nursing cover come in handy for nursing in public or pumping? How many diapers does a newborn use a day? Gathering all the essentials that will cover you and baby for a few weeks after delivery is a major sign of nesting.


You start to notice every tiny spot, stain, and smudge and it bothers you. You begin cleaning as if this new baby is the Queen of England coming for a visit and not a tiny baby whose eyesight is pretty limited. 

In reality, pregnant women likely become obsessed with cleaning, because they are considering the weak and vulnerable immune system of the baby. Plus, scrubbing, dusting and mopping now, means that once baby arrives you will be holding a small bundle of joy and not a mop.


Carefully selecting and packing (and possibly repacking!) the essentials needed for the hospital begins towards the end of the pregnancy. Trying to think of everything you might need and what the new addition might need can be stressful, so overpreparing is a natural resolution. 


Your mind is constantly consumed with everything from birthing plans to nursing classes and searching for the best pediatrician for your baby. A sense of being prepared has a calming effect on what is unknown to you right now.

Nesting can be a very sweet way of prepping for the arrival of your baby. Remember that all this baby really needs is your love, your cuddles, and a safe place, so try not to go into overdrive with the cleaning and stress. Enjoy this period of preparation and acknowledge it for what it is – your instinct to protect and love your new baby. You’ve got this! 


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