Check the shopping list, she’s nesting
Many midwives and doctors will tell you to relax as much as possible as you reach your EDD (expected date of delivery). However, some mums find the urge to clean and tidy their home is irresistible and there is a proven psychological reason for this.
The nesting instinct is a strong, evolutionary phenomenon which sees pregnant women preparing for the arrival of their new baby by cleaning and ordering their environment.
Authors of a study say the compulsion to “nest” peaks in the third trimester and is an important task which ties us to our ancestral past.
Here, one mum tells us about her unexpected experience of the nesting instinct.
Take me to Tesco, hurry, before my waters break
In my first pregnancy we moved house about two weeks before my due date – yes, we moved lock, stock and very pregnant barrel into a new home using a borrowed fish monger’s van and a lot of hard work.
Funnily enough, I don’t remember too much about it, except that at one point my husband left me in the new house with a tiny TV set and one armchair (it was all that would fit into the van in one go) as he went back and forth from our old flat, bringing everything we owned to our new world.
So, I guess the last few days before our first child was born were total nesting – I had no choice.
By the time our second child was due, we were, of course, settled. Our son had started school, and I’d gone back to work. I worked right up until a week before my due date. I was busy and I liked it.
Like my son, my daughter was stubborn and she did not arrive when we hoped. She was staying firmly put as I tried to relax and enjoy the break from work and the last few days before our new arrival.
At eight days over we were given a date for induction of labour and we set about sorting the final details. Everything in the house was clean, baby clothes were sorted, the Moses basket was ready, the cupboards were stocked. We had a friend on standby to have our son to stay when I went into the maternity unit, and my mum had her bag packed ready to come to stay once the baby was born. I was the “size of a house” (someone told me later) and the weather was hot – it was August – so I watched a lot of Golf on the TV and sat by a fan.
Then, the day before I was due to go in for induction, I had an urge. It was something primal, I heaved myself off the sofa and implored my husband.
“We must get to the shops, now!”
Luckily, although he thought it was amusing, my husband agreed and there we were on a hot August afternoon dashing to Tesco before closing because I could not, just could not, go into labour without getting the most imperative of provisions. No, I would not have a baby without these essential items in the home.
And so, at 4.45 on a sunny Tuesday, a rather mountainous woman, accompanied by her unflappable husband, could be seen puffing her way around Tesco with a tiny scrap of paper in her hand – a shopping list.
And what was it that I couldn’t have my baby without? What indispensable article was required in order to bring a new life safely into this world?
We bought a pack of 20 frozen sausages and some whites washing powder!
Yes, those are the items that, less than 24 hours before I gave birth to my second child, I could not live without.
I realise now that I was probably already in the throes of early labour and having some last minute pregnant panic – I didn’t need to be properly induced – and by 4.30 the next day, I was sitting in hospital with my beautiful daughter in my arms.
Yes, I had been nesting. Even though I felt I had everything prepared and all bases covered, my primal instinct told me I needed to make one more effort, no matter how tired, hot or humongous I was, I needed to make the final preparations.
Thankfully, I didn’t need to skin an animal for its pelt or collect a week’s supply of firewood from the forest, my nesting instinct was to go to the supermarket and buy meat and soap products. And thankfully, my waters stayed intact!