The Nesting Instinct

The nesting instinct is experienced by mammals and birds alike. Cats select a private place to give birth, and spend some time collecting rags and other materials to create a soft bed. While you may not be building a pile of old towels in the cupboard under the stairs, you may also be nesting. In humans, the nesting instinct is described as an urge to get things ready for the baby. This could feel like an uncontrollable urge to sort things out. From cleaning behind the bookcase, to de-cluttering the loft, the nesting instinct can take many forms.

It can start as early as the second trimester, although most women will experience it only a matter of weeks before the birth. You may also find that the nesting instinct leaves you feeling a desire to stay close to home.

Does it mean I’m about to go into labour?

During those last few weeks of pregnancy, you may find yourself on your hands and knees scrubbing the utility room floor, or alphabetising all the books in the nursery. However, this doesn’t mean labour is imminent. Some people believe that nesting during the last few weeks is a sign labour is near. Some women do report experiencing the nesting instinct in the last few days of pregnancy.

Follow your instincts, and get all the last minute jobs out of the way. Once it’s all finished, you’ll be able to feel calm and relaxed while you wait for the baby.

It’s also worth bearing in mind, once the baby arrives you may struggle to find the time to order all your photographs by year. Make the most of the time and energy you have during nesting, and get things ready for when baby arrives.

Be sensible

You may be feeling an uncontrollable urge to dust the top of the bookcase, but if it means balancing on top of a wheeled chair, it’s probably best not to. Ask your partner, or friends and family, to help with any jobs that are unsuitable for pregnant women. Climbing, balancing and lugging around heavy objects are all jobs you should avoid.

You should also be careful to avoid strong chemical smells such as oven cleaner or oil based paints. Be sure to take precautions when using cleaning fluids, and leave windows open to allow air to circulate.

If you haven’t felt any urges to clean your house, don’t worry. Not all women experience the nesting instinct.

Do you enjoy this App? Want to prepare for your baby’s arrival? You can now also download our new Baby App for iPhone / iPad or Android. Click Baby+ iOS or Baby+ Android to install the App.

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockThe Nesting Instinct

Comments 26

  1. Ama

    I have De cluttered my bedroom organised my sons room . We have organised baby room. Stocked up cupboards and freezer . Ordered pop biscuits and samosa for guests . Packed a bag for my toddler just in case as I have a elective c section booked in. Mine and baby bag been packed since 32 weeks I am now 39 + 6. Streliser ready on counter. The bouncer is out cot crib all ready to go. Even ordered new baby monitor washed all clothes hanging up in baby wardrobe and draws. Last few things left this weekend change Bed sheets clean bathrooms toilets wash baby bath out and de scale streliser download some photos to our hard drive that I ordered… I want to do loads but suffering with sciatica and also have large fibroid in cervix area putting pressure on bladder so I need to be careful…

  2. Trini

    I hate the nesting. I have this uncontrollable urge to clean, particularly in the evening about 10pm, but I also have SPD which makes housework really painful. I go from anxious that something isn’t clean to absolute agony if I do too much. Getting the balance right is SO difficult.

  3. Julia

    I had the nesting instinct with my 1st but not #2,3,4 lol. I’ve cleaned and all but didn’t have any urges to get anything done more than the regular cleaning.

  4. Sophie

    I’m 39 weeks pregnant and I’ve had this next in feeling for about 3 weeks now seems like an endless battle living in a house with 6 people and 5 pets, just cleaning and organising for it to be undone 😩 . Once the little one is finally here think I will definitely delegate some jobs out 😅

  5. Carolina

    I’m 39 weeks tomorrow! I got extra energy since I stopped working 2 weeks ago. Last week I went mad baking cakes and freezing them for “hard times” 🙂 Few days ago I cleaned utility room and went through all make up,accessories and etc. I hope baby is on it’s way very soon! I was told by the doctor today to stay put and do nothing because my blood pressure is too high.. It’s hard to do nothing when your bursting with energy and my fiancé was sent away from work for last two weeks and I’ve nobody around to keep me company. Not that I’ve no friends 😛 we moved out to country side into bigger house once we found out we were expecting and all friends live miles away some don’t drive :/ you would go daft on your own! Congrats to all fellow mothers to be!!! We are nearly there 🙂

  6. Mel

    I’m having my 3rd baby tomorrow at 39 weeks, by cesarean. Nesting is something that’s evaded me and my partner feels ripped off because he is left with the responsibility to do it.
    With my eldest, I moved house just weeks earlier so the set up and cleaning was inevitable. The second came at 32 weeks so no chance of nesting.

  7. Nicola Maxwell

    I’m 39 weeks tomorrow and I see dirt and dust and things needing organised everywhere at home however I’m just too tired and clumsy to do much. Be careful ladies I certainly wouldn’t recommend scrubbing the utility room floor! It’s too much at this late stage if u fall over get dizzy it’s just not worth it for baby’s safety and yours. If you suffer PGP or back pain etc I always try and remember the dusting and floor cleaning is very loyal!!!! It will be there when you’re able. Dont push yourself I would suggest even if you feel ok. In my opinion it’s more important to rest the body for labour.

    Anything essential ask for help your pregnant and if you have support ask for help. Your body is growing a human – look after it i think. Good luck everyone!!! Rest relax n stay safe until baby comes if you feel that’s best for you…. these types of app’s and websites can put pressure on us to be perfect pregnant woman.

    Peace n joy to you all xXxX

  8. Krista

    I’m 38+6 and no nesting creeping up. 😀 We did move (from the UK to our native Latvia) three weeks ago, so that inevitably included awful lot of cleaning and packing, yet I mostly had to force myself while hubby was at work, when not, I’d sit on the bed and comment on everything 😂 For now and until the first weeks with the baby will have passed, we’re living with my parents (flat) which means the only place I should clean is our room. So far, I just hiss that it’s messy but the overwhelming tiredness shuts it out – I feel like sleeping for days. 😊

  9. Sheila

    Since my husband is in the air force and i’m not working i spend a lot of time alone so i try to do a few things everyday and safe some for the next days as well. I’m 39 weeks tomorrow and for the last weeks i’ve had so much energy . Just yesterday i organized my room, vacuumed, cleaned the cage of my birds, cleaned the bathroom , did a hair treatment, cooked , did the dishes and some time writing . I like it , i feel more active now that i’m pregnant than before 😊

  10. Lauren

    I’m 39 weeks tomorrow and I’ve been going in and out of the nesting instinct. I’ve completely gutted my flat a couple of times but now we’re moving house in 3 days everything is a mess again in both places! I can’t wait until all the decorations are done so I can clean the new place. I’ve never been a tidy person so it is a nice change, especially for my mum 🙂

  11. sherita

    I am at my 9th month and have been nesting since about month 7. Once I get going I can’t stop….I have done everything from cleaning out the refrigerator to moping to cleaning out the spare bedroom. Im finding the even buying last minute things can be apart of nesting as well.

  12. Amy

    I am almost 39 weeks and have been going in and out of nesting phase over the last few weeks. I have never been neat or tidy. Im not sure if its a blessing or a curse because of how annoyed I get at people ruining my nice clean house!

  13. Elaine

    I’m 39 weeks, but I’ve been trying to get stuff done since I got back from college in May. My husband is in the Navy, so I am usually alone doing the work. I was getting a bit depressed at one point because some of my college luggage was 50+ lbs each, so I couldn’t make any progress. (Ceramics and paintings) My parents were thoughtful enough visit and clean with me for a weekend so all of the stuff I wasn’t allowed to carry could be out of the way. Now I can clean at my own leisure and I don’t have to depend on my husband for every little thing. (Although his help is nice when I can get it.)

  14. Georgina

    I’m 39 weeks tomorrow and I’m getting a bit angry because after cleaning my partner makes everything messy again, kitchen, carpet… I wish he could have nesting too.

  15. Katie

    I am 39 weeks tomoz and the other day I just spent all day sorting and organising my sock and knickers draws and cleaned my whole wardrobe out … lol….glad I got it done as baby could come any time now….
    lucky I keep the kitchen and bathroom reletavly clean all the time so no need to go mad on all that!

  16. kels

    This app according to my last”period”, says, 5weeks 2 days. But I feel like I’m farther than that haven’t been to Dr yet but lots of positive at home tests and plenty of symptoms. Also I clean my room and make my bed now . That has never been a thing and I feel the need to clean all the dirty finger prints off the walls… I don’t clean. Is it possible to have nesting instinct in first trimester…?

  17. Monica

    39 weeks tomorrow and the nesting bug definitely kicked in a few days ago. Which is great because I feel as though I have been so distracted this pregnancy! I finally feel connected! Next up… Cleaning the carpet in my van 🙂

  18. moi

    My husband is definitely going through this nesting instinct moment! He cleans everyday, washes baby clothes, buy milk bottles and tits or shops for breastfeeding pumps when he is out and about. I found it crazy , as he never did that for our first! Haven’t had it yet myself for this pregnancy and I am 39 weeks but I had it for my first and it started quite early at 30 weeks!

  19. Megan

    Haven’t had any crazy urges to clean but I’m cooking and baking like mad. Meals in the freezer, biscuits, cakes, slices anything!

  20. Dominique

    20 w 5 d atm and my nesting cravings started about week 16. They have not been overpowering quite yet but I am finding more and more often I cannot stand the clutter in our home and when I get going and focused on one room, I won’t stop till I am satisfied. I often find that being around 3am. .. so no vacuums alowed but I would if I could. With Christmas leaving our home to go back in storage I am excited to see this house spotless!! And am no longer working so it will stay that way until I am too tired to move or our baby comes.

  21. Maria

    I’m 39 weeks and I’m too tired to clean all the time but I’m glad my partner is like that atm! 🙂 He keeps cleaning and organising everything for our girl (don’t get me wrong, I do things too but I get tired really quick..) We can’t wait!!

  22. Karina

    im 39 weeks and I am nesting I can’t stop cleaning iv hoovered my rug 10 times today , and moped about 6 times its so weird how u feel the urge to clean loads I don’t think my house could be any cleaner , I am just waiting now for my little princess to make her enterance into the world

  23. AMA

    I’m 33 weeks and I’ve never been such a clean freak, since I’ve been pregnant. This is my first pregnancy, and anything I see is misplaced or dirty around the house I must clean! Lol

  24. April

    I am only 13 weeks and have taken four trips to goodwill! Lol if I can’t find a place for it….donate it! My poor husband has been lugging things out and I keep reminding him… 9 months is not that long! So I think it’s safe to say I have a long nesting ahead of me…lol

  25. Rose

    I’m 38 weeks and the last few days any object out of place makes me feel like I have to clean the whole room so needless to say I have complete organized the living-room, kitchen, laundry room, bedrooms and my husbands man cave (poor guy) really can’t wait for out beautiful daughter to get here so I can stop feeling the need to sanitize my walls lol

  26. mary

    I’m 26 weeks and just yesterday I was planning on cleaning my other two kids rooms and I whind up cleaning the whole house lol