The Nesting Instinct During Pregnancy
The nesting instinct usually sets in around the fifth month of your pregnancy. Now some may not know what the “nesting instinct” is. This is basically the uncontrollable urge to clean your house, and generally go crazy doing all sorts of things that will prepare the ‘nest’ for the new member of the family.
This is a primal instinct and all the females of almost every species in the world will go through this same instinct in one way or another. It is also an old wives tale that this is one of the signs that labor is going to set in shortly. Females of the animal kingdom are all equipped with this same need. It is a primal instinct. Just as you see birds making their nests, mothers-to-be do exactly the same thing. The act of nesting puts you in control and gives a sense of accomplishment toward birth. You may become a homebody and want to retreat into the comfort of home and familiar company, like a brooding hen. The nesting urge can also be seen as a sign of the onset of labor when it occurs close to 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Nesting brings about some unique and seemingly irrational behaviors in pregnant women and all of them experience it differently. Women have reported throwing away perfectly good sheets and towels because they felt the strong need to have “brand new, clean” sheets and towels in their home. They have also reported doing things like taking apart the knobs on kitchen cupboards, just so they could disinfect the screws attached to the knobs. Women have discussed taking on cleaning their entire house, armed with a toothbrush. There seems to be no end to the lengths a nesting mother will go to prepare for her upcoming arrival.
This unusual burst of energy is responsible for women ironing anything in the house that couldn’t out-run them. Being preoccupied with ant killing, squishing them one at a time for weeks on end. Packing and unpacking the labor bag 50 times. Cleaning the kitchen cupboards and organizing everything by size to the point that you make sure the silverware patterns match when it’s stacked in the cutlery drawer. Sorting the baby’s clothes over and over again is a favorite theme. Taking them out of the drawers and re-folding them, putting them away and doing it over and over again. Nesting will provide interesting stories for years to come.
When your “nesting” urge hits, try to follow these precautions:
When painting: In the final weeks of pregnancy suppress the overwhelming urge to paint the baby’s nursery. Perhaps you could do the planning and designing of the room and let someone else do the actual painting. Paint is a substance to avoid for pregnant women. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to oil based paints, old paint that may contain lead and some latex paints that contain mercury. Most water-based paints can be used but always check the label for contents that could be harmful. Painting should always be done in a large, well-ventilated area to minimize breathing fumes. Wear protective clothing and gloves and never eat or drink in the painting work area.
When cleaning: There are no real issues with disinfecting your house as long as you know the safety of the chemicals you’re using. There is no evidence to suggest that there is any link between the use of household cleaners and birth defects. It’s a good idea to avoid oven cleaners and dry cleaning products and be careful never to mix ammonia with chlorine-based products, like bleach or cleanser, as the combination produces toxic fumes. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning and try not to breathe strong fumes.
If you have a cat or know that cats are present in your garden: Cat feces can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a rare but serious blood infection. If this infection is passed on to your baby, it can cause birth defects such as blindness, deafness or mental retardation. Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning the litter box or assign this chore to another family member until after the baby comes. Avoid all yard work or gardening in areas where cats may have contaminated the soil with feces. It’s better to avoid these activities than run the risk of infection.
Nesting can be one of the more humorous aspects of pregnancy. One that you and your partner are sure to laugh about in the years to come…if he ever forgives you for sending him off to work and ripping down all the wallpaper in the hall! You may laugh about it now but you probably won’t laugh when you’re in the middle of it. No one can pull you out of it no matter how silly your behavior may seem. It simply becomes something that you must do!