The Science of Nesting
Researchers agree: nesting is a completely instinctive behavior, ingrained in our bodies as adaptive behavior from history. What's the weirdest thing you've done in preparation for Baby?
When I had my first baby, my urge to clean was insatiable. It was odd for me, the woman who used to leave dishes out overnight and toss shoes haphazardly into a heap in the bedroom. I used to think the whole “nesting” thing was just an excuse for organized type A parents. But as baby time drew nearer for me it was all cleaning, ALL the time. My husband came home from work one day to discover his 9-month-pregnant wife precariously balanced atop a ladder in a desperate attempt to get at the dust bunnies above the refrigerator. “So…many…germs!” I muttered in a hormone-driven frenzy.
Researchers agree: nesting is a completely instinctive behavior, ingrained in our bodies as adaptive behavior from history. “Nesting is not a frivolous activity,” shared Marla Anderson, lead author on a recent study from McMaster University in an interview with CBC News. Scientists have found that women develop increasing bursts of energy and the urge to organize as the third trimester progresses.
Moreover, women become increasingly selective about the company they keep as baby time draws near, exerting precise control over their environment and choosing only to be around people they trust. It’s a phenomenon that’s doubly impressive considering how exhausted most women are by the third trimester.
The study followed both pregnant and non-pregnant women to explore the psychology behind the nesting urge, finding that pregnant women feel inclined to provide a safe environment for their children in the same way that animals in the wild do. Studies conducted on rats and rabbits have shown that when animal’s nesting materials are disturbed, they become troubled and distracted to the point of failing to properly care for their newborns. Many researchers point to the increasing levels of prolactin later in pregnancy as being the driving force behind our urge to make our habitat more hygienic.
So next time you find yourself scrubbing the sink with a toothbrush, rest assured that this is perfectly normal behavior. If you can’t help but organize those onesies twenty times or dust the baseboards until they gleam, just blame it on baby.
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