As someone who’s naturally messy – sometimes I don’t see the point of putting everything away when you’re going to get it out again – this might just be me though…?
So, I’m actually looking forward to and seriously hoping that the nesting instinct will kick in again during this pregnancy, like it did the first time round. Apparently it can kick in from month 5…hmm, wondering if I’ll get it this time with just 4 weeks left till my good guess date (edd)!
The first time round, my husband was shocked and delighted in equal measures. I was suddenly rearranging and cleaning out the kitchen cupboards and not only was I doing this well and efficiently, I actually wanted to do this. In fact I couldn’t stop myself!!
A natural instinct
One mum I taught told me how she’d been dreaming and longing for maternity leave: to go for long walks, to swim, and read magazines in bed (ahh what bliss). But when her maternity leave finally arrived what did she find herself doing? Not chilling out, oh no – she was cleaning and rearranging her kitchen cupboards instead! She said she didn’t want to do it, but couldn’t resist the urge.
Apparentlly about 97% of pregnant women experience this instinctual response. I think it shows how primal we still are – we have the same instincts as other mammals in pregnancy and in labour. We want to create a nest for our new arrival and we want to feel safe and comfortable during labour and birth. Our bodies know what’s going on, even if we haven’t quite got our heads around it yet. We naturally want to get our home/nest ready for our new arrival. It also follows that in labour we want to feel safe in a nest-like cosy, environment!
Think about it? A cat wouldn’t give birth in a brightly lit room with everyone watching – it would find a drawer under a bed, somewhere sheltered, dimly lit and hidden away.
Cleaning during labour!
I spoke to some of my other clients about this instinctual urge – one had an overwhelming desire to start painting and decorating and actually tired herself out – so sometimes it’s good to resist or perhaps redirect the urge and do something easier.
One of my mums actually cleaned the house in the early stages of labour! Well, it’s important to do whatever you find relaxing or distracting. You can read her birth story here: A quick natural birth
Rachael Head, mum of two, came to classes for her second pregnancy (read her birth story here: A wonderful water birth story) and said: ‘With my first pregnancy I was convinced that nesting was a lot of nonsense. Towards the end I was exhausted and the thought of cleaning or decorating only exhausted me more.
Then on 20th September 2013 I couldn’t sleep at all, I was 39 weeks pregnant and the size of a small hippo. The thing keeping me awake? The state of my fridge. My husband woke early that morning (5am) to find me furiously scrubbing away at the fridge, whose contents I’d emptied all over the kitchen floor.
I had no control over the impulse to get the fridge spotless before my baby arrived. It had to be done urgently. About twelve hours later I went into labour!
The second time around we moved house when I was 36 weeks pregnant, so my nesting was a mad rush to get the house ready and the family settled before baby number two arrived. I was more than happy for everyone else to do the cleaning though.’
Some of us might experience the nesting instinct in a slightly different way – sometimes pregnant women may want to retreat, stay at home with people they know (not really surprising is it, but now you have a good excuse if you don’t want to go out and meet people – it’s your inner cavewoman kicking in).
And some of us don’t experience the nesting instinct at all – if that’s you, maybe all it means is that you’re so organised and tidy your home is already nest-like and ready to go.