what's hot around the web

Nesting: What’s Up With That?

The urge to make baby’s house a (germ-free, ultra-organized, impeccably designed) home explained.

When I was pregnant, I had an overwhelming desire to overhaul the two-bedroom apartment I share with my husband -- not just to make room for baby, but to accommodate our new lives as a family of three. That meant a lot of trips to furniture stores and a lot of putting stuff together, from the crib to a new kitchen island. I also discovered gross stuff lurking behind the trash can that had to be scrubbed off stat, and don’t even get me started on what was in the back of the refrigerator. Yup, I -- the girl who is usually allergic to housework -- was nesting.

Don't Go Too Crazy!

Nesting Necessities:
• Buy the two essential safety items: the car seat and the crib.
• Stock up on newborn must-haves, including enough outfits, bedding, and changing and bath supplies.
• Get feeding gear, if you’ll bottle- feed. (If you’re breastfeeding, all baby needs at mealtime is you!)
• Make fixes that will make doing everyday tasks easier and safer, like replacing a curled-up area rug because it’s a tripping hazard.
• Vacuum, dust and clean up any big, germy messes like the cat fur that’s been lingering under the bed.

What Can Wait:
• Making lots of meals in advance to freeze for the newborn days. You'll be fine as long as you know good restaurants that do takeout.
• Buying toys. Baby won’t be doing much more than sleeping and eating the first few weeks.
• Getting tons of gear for an older baby. There are bound to be more gifts and shopping trips post-birth.
• Installing baby gates, outlet covers and drawer locks. You’ve still got months before baby crawls.
• Big home remodeling projects. This isn’t your last chance ever.

Why we do it
People who refer to a pregnant woman’s urge to prepare the home as an “instinct” are on to something. sure, birds are the best-known nesting animals, but mammals like us do it too -- our hormones may be partly to blame for giving us the impulse to browse for hours searching for the perfect nursery paint color and folding newborn onesies into tidy little stacks. But it’s also our nerves. No matter how much we’re looking forward to life with baby, it’s truly scary knowing that we're in for such a drastic change, and preparing our surroundings as much as possible makes us feel like we have just a little bit of an edge in getting this whole-new mom thing right.

The first surge to expect
A lot of moms-to-be do big-time nesting in the second trimester, when their energy level is at its highest. You might find yourself noticing things that need fixing or reorganizing. You might look around your home and realize that you need to squeeze in an entirely new person -- and all of his or her stuff --and clean out closets and drawers to make room. You might do some deep cleaning because things seem too germy for a vulnerable newborn's environment. You might do all of the above. sometimes, the tasks are huge, like a kitchen remodel; other times, it’s as simple as finally finishing that scrapbook. it could be baby-related or not.

...And the second
The nesting urge could kick in again close to your due date -- some say that neurotically cleaning your home is a sign you’re about to go into labor. (case in point: my friend, april, who did laundry in the buff to ensure every stitch of clothing she owned was clean. three days later, her son was born.) seriously, don’t stress. Sure, some to-dos are important, but others can wait until after baby is born.

Clean, but clean wisely
Okay, so it will feel really good to be prepared for baby, but it’s also important for your health and sanity not to stress yourself. If you have unrealistic expectations for what you can get done before the birth (news flash: it’s never everything), then you’ll just wear yourself out trying. So know that plenty of it can wait until later. (See sidebar.)

Extreme nesting
If you suspect your nesting efforts are over- the-top, ask yourself how you’re feeling, since heightened nesting behavior can be associated with anxiety. Remind yourself that it’s normal to be nervous about having a baby and consider talking to someone you trust about your feelings to get it off your chest. and if your nesting seems scary, out-of-control or is affecting any of your relationships negatively, consider seeking professional help. Otherwise, happy cleaning!

Don't feel like nesting?

Everyone’s different! You’re probably just fine, as long as you’re motivated to do the basic baby prep work. If not, there’s a small chance your lack of motivation could be a symptom of deep fear or denial, so do an honest self-check.

The Bump expert: Carrie Contey, PhD, a prenatal and perinatal psychologist in Austin, Texas

Plus, more from The Bump:

10 Things You Must Do Before You Go Into Labor

Top 10 Cribs for Baby

Nursery Ideas

-- Elena Donovan Mauer

See More: 3rd Trimester , Pregnancy Symptoms