Nesting in Pregnancy: What’s the Deal?

Last Updated: January 22, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Pregnancy is a time of growth and transformation (literally and figuratively). A time for excitement and anticipation. And, if you’re like most mamas, a time for preparation. And that urge to prepare, organize, and clean? You’re nesting, mama!

Maybe you’re here because the nesting bug has hit you hard, and you’re trying to figure out how to manage it all.

Perhaps, you’re earlier in pregnancy and looking forward to making the most of your time nesting. Or is birth right around the corner and you feel like you might have missed the boat?

Whatever the case may be, today we’re going to talk about nesting strategy.

In this complete guide to nesting, I will help you figure out how to divide and conquer. You will read my top tips about how to channel your nesting instincts (or kick them into gear!) so that you can be as productive as possible!

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What is nesting in pregnancy?

Nesting during pregnancy can’t really be defined as one thing. It manifests in different ways for different mamas. It might even come on at different times or in different degrees – but the behavior is always rooted in getting ready for baby in one form or another.

As a first-time mom, it actually might not be obvious that what you are feeling is nesting. Or maybe this isn’t your first rodeo, but the last time you didn’t nest and aren’t sure why you have the sudden urge to be Martha Stewart.

Nesting meaning

Nesting is the urge and desire to ready anything and everything in your life before baby. The term comes from the idea of a mama bird building a nest to lay her eggs.

Just like that mama bird, many pregnant women feel an unexplainable urge to prepare their “nest” before birth.

Is nesting a sign of labor soon?

Nesting in general is not a hard and fast sign of labor. It’s difficult for anyone to know for sure when labor is coming, but there are some signs that labor is near.

The main reason is that nesting strikes women at various points in pregnancy. It also may come and go based on how idle your mind is or what else is going on in your life.

One note on nesting and labor – some women do experience a sudden rush of energy and final nesting “urge” in the days leading up to those first labor contractions.  

However, I think it’s one of those things that you more realize after the fact and less while it’s happening. But I will say, at any point in pregnancy when the nesting urge hits, roll with it!

Related Reading: Weird Signs That Labor Might Be Near

Signs of nesting when pregnant

  • A desire to have all drawers and cabinets organized, an urge you need to fulfill at the exact moment you realize they are unsatisfactory
  • A sudden urge to fold all your clothes in a new and uniform way (I’m looking at you, bras and panties…)
  • Vacuuming, dusting, or cleaning more than usual, possibly at 2 am when you notice the window sill is a bit dusty while you’re up peeing for the 3rd time
  • A sense of satisfaction after preparing an elaborate three-course meal, and maybe making a few extra meals for the freezer upon completing it
  • Wanting to do 100 DIY projects around the house
  • Dusting off your sewing machine and making blankets, onesies, and hats, and more blankets, onesies, and hats
  • An endless supply of baby yarn and Pinned knitting projects for baby
  • A complete overhaul of financial organization and digitizing your filing cabinet
  • Obsessing over every coordinated detail and item in your nursery

I think you get the picture! All of those are your mind’s way of calming anxieties and helping you to feel more ready for baby. 

If you aren’t experiencing these signs yet, trust me they’re probably coming. And they will look unique for every mom.

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How can I make my nesting more productive?

First of all, it’s important to nest! Your life is about to change immensely. Your mind knows that it needs to be getting things ready and safe for baby. 

The reason we want to nest is to alleviate stress and anxieties in our minds. We want a more peaceful life and home to bring baby into. 

Now, onto the tips that will really help your productivity!

Pregnancy nesting tip: Categorize your nesting (think beyond the nursery…)

Five realms of your life that need preparation before birth!

  • Preparing the team (that’s you and your partner!)
  • Preparing the home
  • Preparing for the big day
  • Preparing to breastfeed (if that’s your plan)
  • Preparing for life with a new baby

Think about how you can “nest” in each of these categories!

Pregnancy nesting tip: Create timeline-based checklists

Once you have an idea of the “nesting categories” that are important to you, you’ll want to create checklists of things to do within each category. 

Ideally, you want these checklists to be ordered chronologically. This will make tackling them so much easier.

For example, in your “preparing the home” list you might have:

  • Stock the pantry with non-perishables
  • Do a deep clean
  • Make freezer meals
  • Finish the nursery
  • Do bulk shopping of household supplies
  • Create a monthly budget for maternity leave
  • Schedule pet care for during your birth

Okay, so you probably don’t want to do the deep clean in week 31, and you also probably don’t want to be doing your Costco run of household supplies in week 40 (though it is possible…), but I think you get the idea. 

Give yourself weekly goals of what you want to accomplish and when.

Pregnancy nesting tip: Organize your prenatal/birth paperwork in one spot

Aha. Not a strong suit of mine… but I highly recommend getting a big old binder to house all your paperwork. 

All my things tended to be scattered about, stained with a coffee mark, or wrinkled (not proud…) – so, do better than I did!

Gather all the important things into one place, such as:

  • Questions and notes from your prenatal appointments
  • Ultrasound pictures
  • Birth-related paperwork and/or information from any birth classes you may have taken
  • Journaling or worksheets you’ve used to prepare your relationship for life with a baby
  • Hospital bag packing lists and other to-do lists you create
  • Info and paperwork related to finding support people such as photographers, childcare info, pediatrician info, doula contact, lactation consultants, etc.

Pregnancy nesting tip: Create space for the less “logical tasks” your mind wants to do

Chances are, while you are nesting you are going to have some intrinsic needs that don’t really make sense. Make time for these things. 

Some part of you may need to create a super detailed quilt. And you totally should!

So while you are scheduling and figuring out when to get everything else done, be sure to make time for the less logical tasks too.

Pregnancy nesting tip: Alleviate some of the anxiety fueling your nesting

For some women, the urge to nest can start to interfere with their life. In particular, many of my mom friends related it to pregnancy insomnia.

Just when you want to lay down your mind starts swimming with everything that needs to be done. You might feel a sense of time running out or slipping away.

You can make this a little better by:

  • Making time for self-care and finding ways to de-stress
  • Getting active with a prenatal fitness program or outdoor activity
  • Talking about your anxiety or worries related to baby prep with your partner or even your provider
  • Signing up for an online birth class! You might be surprised that a lot of your anxiety is fueled by the unknown of birth. Education can really help this
  • Having a plan for getting everything done, creating lists, and trusting yourself

If you have any concerns that what you are feeling is not normal, or your nesting is feeling a lot more like anxiety, DO NOT hesitate to bring this up to your provider. They can help!

Related Reading: 12 Ways to Relax and De-Stress During Pregnancy

Pregnancy nesting tip: Don’t take it on alone!

Preparing for a baby is a lot of work and not something you should do alone. Lean on your partner, and let them know specific ways they can help. They may even have some nesting ideas of their own. 

Take your family and friends up on their offers to help. Delegate tasks entirely, or tackle some of your second-trimester checklist or third-trimester checklist items together.

The 5 best nesting activities

With the above tips, you’ll be well on your way to more logical and productive nesting in pregnancy. 

But I couldn’t wrap this article up without sharing what I see as the five best nesting activities. 

Five activities that you can commit to doing right away that are going to yield HUGE results in making your birth or life with your new baby easier.

1. Stock your freezer

I know we touched on this as an example above, and that wasn’t by accident. This is truly one of the best things you can do while nesting. 

It is going to be the thing that your postpartum self is most thankful for, I can guarantee it. You need to eat, and having healthy, real-ingredient meals, ready to go is the best.

2.  Get baby’s space ready in YOUR room

You know (and want) to get your nursery looking perfect, but in reality, baby will likely be sleeping in your room for the first few months. 

The AAP recommends at least 6 months of “co-rooming” to reduce the risk of SIDS. That means you and baby are in the same room but in your own separate sleep spaces.

Be sure to create the perfect baby sleep environment in your room too!

3. Complete a childbirth class

Nothing will ease your nesting mind more than a childbirth class. It’s proactive, will fill you with knowledge, and is a concrete way to prepare with your partner! Just what your nesting itch ordered!

Learn more about Mommy Labor Nurse’s online birth classes today!

4. Create a baby clothes organization system

While you are in the mood to organize and obsess over every detail of the nursery, make the most of it by organizing those baby clothes. Baby clothes are tricky. In the first year alone there are five different size ranges. And between gifts and hand-me-downs, you are likely being given clothes in a variety of sizes.

Make sure you don’t miss a single outfit by creating a system. I recommend getting a bin for each size range with a clear label. Then within each bin, create bags for different types of clothing (short-sleeved, long-sleeved, pants, PJs, etc.). This will make it easy to swap out clothes for use and to store for future kids.

Related Reading: How Many Baby Clothes Do I Need?

5.  Do a purge/deep clean of the house

Maybe obvious, but still a good one. In the final weeks leading up to birth, I recommend you purge, purge, purge. Between your registry and other gifts from your baby shower, I bet you are already acquiring a ton of baby stuff. And in the first year, it seems to keep coming! 

Make space and get organized now. It will also be helpful to have good organization in place to save you time and frustration when a newborn is around.

Once your home is free of clutter, do a deep clean the week before your due date. Maybe you, maybe a loved one, or maybe a scheduled cleaning service 😉

You will love bringing baby home to a fresh and clean space!

Get nesting, mama!

With this guide, you now know exactly how to channel that inner urge to nest!

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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