Dawn Rebel


10 Ways To Harness Your Nesting Hormones

Is your nesting instinct turning you into a birdbrain?

pregnant woman with laundry

You and me, baby, ain’t nothing but mammals.

Some pregnant mammals prepare for their newborn by seeking the lowest spot of shelter. Others pace, hoard, or literally build nests. We humans clean, purge, scrub, alphabetize, and label.

It’s a powerful instinct, driven by hormonal forces deep in our primordial brains.

Thankfully, we’re slightly more cognizant than our monkey cousins, so can choose how we want to direct these instinctual pre-birth efforts. I, for one, will not be he building a nest of straw and grass lined with hair plucked from my body (this is the rabbit nesting ritual, apparently) before my due-any-day baby is born. I’ve got a list, and so should you.

So, how can you keep your eye on the prize in the final pre-baby months?


1. Don’t wait for month number eight:

While science tracks the nesting instinct at between months five and eight, you won’t want to wait until you are a waddling, exhausted, ball of anxiety before you tackle your to-do list. Don’t wait for hormones to dictate your plan. Starting a solid to-do list during your fifth month gives you enough time to complete any mid-sized projects (like painting).

2. Make your space more “helper” friendly:

Motherhood does not mean martyrdom, and help is not a dirty word. Some of your nesting activities should be focused on making it easier for others to help you. This could include:

  • Labelling key shelves or baskets so others can put away laundry.
  • Making freezer space for meals brought by visitors.
  • Putting key cleaning products in easy-to-access areas.

Organize your life so that you can run things smoothly by giving instructions from the comfort of your nursing chair. You will thank yourself later.

3. Create “stations”:

Give yourself several baby changing, baby napping, nursing/feeding, and baby activity stations throughout your home. If your house has more than one floor, you will want to have changing, napping, nursing/feeding, and activity stations on each floor.

A “station” doesn’t need to mean more than a decorative basket stocked with diapers, wipes, a change mat, and garbage bags. 

4. Keep projects achievable:

Now is not the time to add that second story. Keep your nesting projects achievable. You might have been given a “due date” by the doctor, but babies come when they are ready—even if you are not.

5. Stockpile the essentials:

This is your chance to really enjoy shopping in bulk. Important items to stock up on include:

  • Toilet paper
  • Detergents
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Wipes
  • Highly nutritious snacks (like trail mixes)
  • Non-perishable food items

There will be plenty of items you’ll need last minute . . . don’t make toilet paper one of them.

6. Grooming is giving:

In the delivery room, and in the weeks after baby is born, sometimes the only thing you find yourself wearing is your recent mani pedi. Take some time for you, as a gift to “future, naked you.”

This post on ladyscaping may help you decide whether to groom or not to groom.

7. Take time for love:

While putting your relationship on a to-do list doesn’t sound sexy or spontaneous, it is so important. Make a point of going on dates, snuggling, talking, listening, and just being together. This precious time will go a long way when sleep exhaustion starts jumping on your last nerve with one another.

8. Check your calendar:

While hard to believe, life does go on after labour. Birthdays, holidays, and other important dates will soon be upon you. Take time now to buy any cards and presents for these fetes.

9. Clutter trumps clean:

So you think you’re in early labour? So exciting! What’s the final thing you should accomplish from your nesting to-do list? Put away the clutter.

It is much more important to put away the clutter than it is to actually clean your house. Why? Because your visitors over the next few weeks will be more than capable of Windexing your coffee table, however they probably don’t know where to put your odds and ends. Experts say to distract yourself in early labour, and this is the perfect way to accomplish just that.

10. Get serious about sleep

Do not let your nesting instinct get in the way of getting some serious rest. No amount of planning, cleaning, and organizing can replace the benefits of a well rested you.


Make sure your partner or family is part of the nesting preparations! The four-square to-do list means you won’t have to go it alone.

Motherhood does not mean martyrdom. Don’t forget that Help is Not a Dirty Word!