DO PREGNANT WOMEN REALLY ‘NEST’?
This comes with a warning for partners of pregnant women – if you are given a list of DIY projects around the house, please note: THE JOBS MUST BE DONE!
If you notice that your pregnant partner is acting out of character and she is fastidiously cleaning out cupboards, re-painting rooms, washing – EVERYTHING, sometimes twice, ironing, changing cushions on the lounge, cleaning skirting boards (often in preparation for re-painting), re-organising kitchen cupboards, re-designing the garden or cooking madly and endlessly freezing meals, then do not be worried, but enjoy this frenetic madness because it won’t happen again, anytime soon. You will learn to love your new pristine, highly organised environment. Women have reported throwing away perfectly good sheets and towels because they felt the strong need to have ‘brand new, clean’ ones in their home.
They have also reported doing things like taking apart the knobs on kitchen cupboards, just so they could disinfect the screws attached.
Women have discussed taking on cleaning their entire house, armed with a toothbrush.
Some think that ‘nesting’ is simply a phenomenon manufactured by the media, but not so. Psychologists are now reporting evidence that pregnant women really do have a measurable urge to get organised and renovate. It is a primal instinct going back thousands of years.
There’s plenty of evidence for nesting in other mammals, including mice, rabbits, monkeys and apes. Nesting is an overwhelming biological drive that motivates pregnant females prepare a safe place for themselves and their babies in that crucial period during and shortly after birth.
Psychologists Marla Anderson and Mel Rutherford from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, say they have found evidence that women really do change their behaviour during pregnancy. Their results were published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.07.002
Anderson and Rutherford developed an online questionnaire to look for nesting behaviours, which was completed by several hundred pregnant and non-pregnant women (who didn’t know what the study was about). The researchers also followed the behaviour of 20 women throughout their pregnancies and compared the results to those for 19 non-pregnant women.
In both parts of the study, the pregnant women were significantly more likely than non-pregnant women to report behaviours that could be described as nesting. These increased throughout pregnancy and peaked during the third trimester. They included what the researchers call “space preparation behaviours” such as home renovations, energy bursts, purging and sorting household items.
They suggest that future studies could look at whether women with a strong urge to nest are more likely to choose home births, and whether allowing women more control over the birthing environment might help to reduce anxiety during childbirth.
Women also become more selective about the company they keep, preferring to just spend time with people they trust, reports the journal Evolution & Human Behaviour.
Having control over the environment is a key feature of preparing for childbirth, including decisions about where the birth will take place and who will be welcome.
Psychologist Doctor Marla Anderson, of McMaster University in Canada, said: ‘Nesting is not a frivolous activity.
‘We have found it peaks in the third trimester as the birth draws near and is an important task that probably serves the same purpose in women as it does in other animals.
‘It ties us to our ancestral past. Providing a safe environment helps to promote bonding and attachment between both the mother and infant.’
Females of the animal kingdom are all equipped with this same need. Just as you see birds making their nests, mothers to be do exactly the same.
Increased nesting is often a sign that labour is imminent. Women often report that these last minute tasks just must be completed before birthing can begin.
So listen to your body and follow your instincts.