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Nesting During Pregnancy

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Article by:

Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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Pregnant mother happily going through newborn clothes in a rocking chair.

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Are you an expectant parent and curious about nesting in pregnancy? The last few months of pregnancy are often filled with excitement about your new baby’s arrival but also a long to-do list. Let’s talk about nesting in pregnancy, when nesting starts, and how you can best prepare before your little one is born!

As you prepare for your baby’s arrival, I’d love for you to bookmark the newborn section of my blog and join the Taking Cara Babies community on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Tik Tok, Reddit, LTK or Facebook. I talk about all things baby sleep along with tips for the newborn stage (and every stage through your baby’s fifth birthday).

What is nesting in pregnancy?anchor

Nesting is the natural instinct that many expectant mothers have when they prepare their home (or “nest”) for their new baby. Nesting often looks like a sudden burst of energy and an overwhelming urge to clean, organize, and prepare for their baby’s arrival. 

Expert Tip: The nesting instinct can also happen for parents who aren’t giving birth. When I talk about nesting, I’m referring to any parent who is expecting a baby and feeling that surge of energy to get things done. 

When does nesting start in pregnancy?anchor

Research shows that nesting starts, and peaks, in the third trimester. However, some mothers experience this nesting instinct earlier in their pregnancy. 

What does nesting feel like?anchor

Nesting may look and feel different for every person. Most parents who experience that nesting instinct will notice the following things: 

  • Change in energy level. Most pregnant mothers feel exhausted in the third trimester, so when this sudden burst of energy comes, it may feel like a dramatic change (a positive one!).

  • Urge to prepare your home for your baby’s arrival! Many nesting parents are ready to clean, organize, and even purge their home to prepare for their new baby. These tasks may range from simply getting the nursery decorated and organized, to organizing every inch of your home!

  • Desire to stay home. A less discussed part of nesting behaviors is social selectivity. What does that mean? Research shows that a nesting mother may be most comfortable staying away from new people or environments to remain healthy and relaxed before their baby arrives. 

Does everyone experience the nesting instinct in pregnancy?anchor

While most expectant mothers report this sudden burst of energy and urge to clean and organize, not all do. Please know that your nesting or lack thereof is not an indication of your love for your baby or your parenting instincts. 

First Five Months Bundle

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Real talk: Babies don't come with manuals and many of us don't have a natural "instinct" for how to handle everything in the newborn stage. I will always encourage you to trust your gut and listen to that small voice inside. But, it's okay--and even good-- to learn from experts you trust. As a baby nurse with 25 years of experience, I would love to come alongside you with step-by-step guidance and support through these first few months.

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What is extreme nesting?anchor

“Extreme nesting” is when a mother’s nesting behavior causes intense anxiety or obsession over preparing for her baby’s arrival. 

If you feel that you have new or worsening anxiety, please reach out to your doctor or the National Maternal Health Hotline (1-833-852-6262) for additional support. 

Can nesting or a burst of energy be a sign of labor? anchor

Nesting can be a sign that you’re getting closer to labor but not typically a sign that you’re in labor. Research tells us that most women experience the peak of nesting in their third trimester and nearing the end of their pregnancy.

Want tips to help set your mind at ease about baby sleep before your little one arrives?
I have a free download called 5 Things Every Expectant Parent Needs to Know about Baby Sleep.

Can adoptive parents or intended parents experience nesting? anchor

Yes, adoptive and intended parents can absolutely experience the nesting instinct! No matter how your little one will be joining your family, the parental instinct to prepare yourself and your home for your new baby is still there. 

What is a nesting party? anchor

A nesting party is exactly what it sounds like! You plan a day to invite a few close friends or family members over to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival and make it a celebration. 

Nesting Party Activity Ideas:

  • Washing, folding, and organizing baby’s clothes

  • Sanitizing/Washing bottles, pacifiers, and pump parts

  • Meal prepping freezer meals

  • Packing hospital bag

  • Organizing the nursery

  • Assembling baby gear (stroller, pack and play, bassinet)

  • Create a feeding and/or pumping cart 

Nesting Checklistanchor

Here’s a checklist (and a product list) you can use to prepare yourself and your home for your little one’s arrival:

Text version of Nesting Checklist table
For Baby For Mom
Wash, fold, and sort baby clothes Think about food for after baby arrives: Meal prep freezer meals; Stock up on healthy and quick snacks
Create a diaper station in living room: Diapers and wipes; Diaper cream; Spare outfits and blankets. Postpartum basket for bathroom: Pads and mesh underwear; Peri bottle; Witch Hazel pads and numbing spray
Sanitize/wash bottles and pacifiers Pumping/feeding cart: Pump and clean pump parts; Nursing pads and lanolin; Snacks and water
Set up nursery: Clean sheets on crib/bassinet mattress; Install baby monitor; Organize dresser drawers Pack hospital bag: Comfortable pjs and grippy socks; Going home outfit for mom and baby; Snacks
Install car seat and safety check Start the newborn class in Taking Cara Babies “First Five Months Bundle“
Pack diaper bag: Diapers and wipes; Spare outfits for mom and baby; Pacifiers and bottle Set aside comfortable postpartum clothes
Collect and organize infant health supplies: Rectal thermometer; Nail file/trimmer; Nasal aspirator Plan a “you” day: Get your favorite treat; Take a nap; Schedule a massage or pedicure
Organize infant bath supplies: Infant towels; Soap; Lotion. Join a parenting community: Support group in your area; Taking Cara Babies Instagram
Assemble baby gear: Stroller; Pack ‘n Play; Infant swing or bouncer chair Look at your calendar for about 6-8 weeks after your due date, and schedule: Therapy/Counseling; Hair appointment; Lunch with a close friend

If you are expecting a new baby, I’m here for you. You don’t have to learn how to do this alone. In my First Five Months Bundle, I’ll walk you step-by-step through everything you need to know about newborn sleep. I’ll show you how to set your days and nights up for success, learn your baby's cues, calm a fussy baby, work towards longer stretches of sleep at night, and so much more. I want you to feel confident as a new parent and love the newborn stage.

Are you ready to have a great little sleeper?

If you're overwhelmed, exhausted, or just not sure where to start. I was there too. Let me show you everything you need to confidently handle sleep so your whole family can thrive!

Select your child's age to get started:

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