Is Nesting a Sign of Labor?

Nesting is a term used to describe a pregnant woman's natural instinct to prepare herself and her home for the impending labor and birth of her baby. The term originated from the natural instinct that animals have to prepare a nest for labor, birth, and the raising of young.

This same impulse can often be observed in pregnant women as well, sometime during the latter part of pregnancy.

Signs of Nesting

Nesting is most often characterized by a sudden burst of energy and a strong urge to ready things for labor and the baby's arrival. Emotional changes and outbursts are an additional sign that nesting is taking place.

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You may feel exceptionally weepy or sentimental about preparing for the baby, or you may even feel a bit aggressive about getting things done. Some women are not aware that they are nesting or may not realize it until after the fact, while some women are fully aware of their sudden nesting instincts but are unable to control it.

You are probably nesting if you feel the unshakable need to go above and beyond your normal cleaning and organizing tasks. Nesting women often clean meticulously, organize entire closets and rooms, suddenly and obsessively tackle the to-do list, have all-day cooking sessions, and even move large pieces of furniture on their own.

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Men can also experience the nesting instinct, although they usually manifest their nesting urges in different ways. You may notice that your spouse helps a little bit more around the house, starts a large and manly project in your last weeks of pregnancy, or throws himself into his work or into financial pursuits. Because his to-do list is so much different than yours, this time may be frustrating to you.

You may feel as if you are both on opposite pages, so to speak. It's important to remember that while your natural instincts may be very different during this time, they both serve their purpose in preparing you both for the birth of a new baby.

Taking Precautions

If you do feel the need to move large and heavy pieces of furniture or do the heavy lifting, it's probably best to ask your spouse or another individual for help. If you find that your time of nesting includes a sudden urge to spend money and splurge on baby items, consider checking in with your spouse or a friend before each purchase to keep yourself accountable. Spending too much money or going into debt right before your new baby is born is probably not the best idea.

Take extra precautions during nesting if you are on bed rest or have had pregnancy complications. Delegating small to-do lists and tasks to others can help satisfy your urge to nest without putting you or your baby at risk.

Is Nesting a Sign of Labor?

Nesting can be a sign of impending labor and birth, but it is not a very reliable method of determining when the big event will happen. Some women experience several small periods of nesting during the last months of pregnancy, while others only experience one time of nesting days or weeks before labor starts. If you experience nesting alongside several other signs, it could signal that labor is near.

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

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