Why Do You Nest When You're Pregnant?

I remember my friend telling me, "You've started nesting," when I told her how I stayed up until 1 a.m. reorganizing my entire house. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she seemed confident that she knew what I was going through. She explained that the urge to clean and make things orderly is something a lot of women experience when they're pregnant. Fair enough, but what's up with that? Why do you nest when you're pregnant? Because it seems like the perfect time to be enjoying some rest and relaxation.

Each pregnant woman experiences nesting in different ways. Although I preferred to have all my future baby's clothes sorted by size and color, one of my friends busted out her old toothbrush and cleaning supplies to spiff up the grout in her tiles floor. To each her own, I guess. According to the website for What To Expect, many members of the animal kingdom possess the nesting instinct — such as dogs, cats and hamsters — so it's possible us mammals are hardwired for this act. Even the name alone is based on the concept that a parent is preparing the "nest" for the new baby that is about to join the family.

But why do you feel the need to tidy and prep the house for someone so small they won't even notice if there's dust bunnies under the coach? As the website for the American Pregnancy Association pointed out, there are a few theories about what triggers the nesting instinct in expecting mothers. One thought is that nesting is brought on my the boredom of still being pregnant. Another idea is that preparing ahead of time frees you up to put all your focus on your baby once she arrives. Even more, it's thought that the pure anticipation of your future bundle may make you anxious to have everything just right when you bring her home.

Even though the excitement of getting everything ready for your baby can be motivating, make sure to be wise in your nesting pursuits, as Fit Pregnancy magazine warned. To avoid overextending yourself and too much stress, prioritize you list and check off the most important items first. Also remember to set aside time just for you, to steer clear of becoming overwhelmed. As The Bump's website pointed out, you may need to let some things go to preserve your happiness. You might not be able to get to everything on your list before baby comes, but that's OK. Some things can wait until after the birth.

If you can't stop thinking about sanitizing your washing machine and labeling everything in the nursery, don't worry, it's totally normal. Your mama genes are kicking in and you want to bring your baby home to a clean, orderly place. Like many other women, you're experiencing part of the pregnancy process that is meant to help you feel more in control and ready for the arrival of your little one.