Your Guide to More Productive Nesting during Pregnancy

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 21, 2023

Pregnancy is a time of growth and transformation (literally and figuratively). A time for excitement and anticipation. And, if you’re like most mamas, a time for preparation. And that urge to prepare, organize and clean? You’re nesting, mama!

Maybe you’re here because the nesting bug has hit you hard, and you’re trying to figure out how to tame and manage it all. Perhaps, you’re earlier in pregnancy and looking forward to making the most of your time nesting. Or is birth right around the corner and you feel like you might have missed the boat on nesting?

Whatever the case may be, today we’re going to talk nesting strategy. In this complete guide to nesting I will help you figure out how to divide and conquer. You will read my top tips about how to channel your nesting instincts (or kick them into gear!) so that you can be as productive as possible!

Guide To Nesting

Disclaimer: We may be compensated through the affiliate links in this post, but all opinions are our own. Read more here.

Nesting During Pregnancy

What is the nesting instinct during pregnancy?

The urge and desire to ready anything and everything in your life before baby. The term comes from the idea of a mama bird building a nest to lay her egg. Just like that mama bird, many pregnant women feel an unexplainable urge to prepare their “nest” before birth.

What is nesting behavior?

Nesting during pregnancy can’t really be defined as one thing. It manifests in different ways for different mamas. It might even come on at different times or in different degrees. But the behavior is always rooted in getting ready for baby in one form or another.

As a first-time mom, it actually might not be obvious that what you are feeling is nesting. Maybe this isn’t your first rodeo, but last time you didn’t nest and aren’t sure why you have the sudden urge to be Martha Stewart?

Signs you are Nesting?

  • A desire to have all drawers and cabinets organized, an urge you need to fulfill at the exact moment you realize they are unsatisfactory
  • A sudden urge to fold all of your clothes in a new and uniform way (I’m looking at you bras and panties…)
  • Vacuuming, dusting or cleaning more than usual, possibly at 2am when you notice the window sill is a bit dusty while you’re up peeing for the 3rd time
  • A sense of satisfaction after preparing an elaborate three-course meal, and maybe making a few extra meals for the freezer upon competing it.
  • Wanting to do 100 DIY projects around the house
  • Dusting off your sewing machine and making blankets, onesies and hats, and more blankets, onesies, and hats
  • An endless supply of baby yarn and Pinned knitting projects for baby
  • A complete overhaul of financial organization and digitizing your filing cabinet
  • Obsessing over every coordinated detail and item in your nursery

I think you get the picture 😉 All of those are your mind’s way of calming anxieties and helping you to feel more ready for baby. If you aren’t experiencing these signs yet, trust us they’re probably coming. And they will look unique for every mom.

Is nesting a sign of labor soon?

Nesting in general is not a hard and fast sign of labor. It’s difficult for anyone to know for sure when their labor is coming, but there are some signs that labor is near. The main reason for that is because nesting strikes women at various points in pregnancy. It also may come and go based on how idle your mind is or what else is going on in your life.

One note on nesting and labor? Some women do experience a sudden rush of energy and final nesting “urge” in the days leading up to labor. However, I think it’s one of those things that you more realize after the fact and less while it’s happening. But I will say, at any point in pregnancy when the nesting urge hits, roll with it!

Tips for More Productive Nesting

Alright, let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of this article. Nesting in pregnancy is real, and you want to know how to make the most out of it. During my first pregnancy my nesting manifested in two major ways: taking exceptionally good care of my dogs, and becoming a one woman knitting factory.

I’m talking twice a day brushing, homemade meals for the dogs, and ice cold water in their bowl multiple times per day (maybe you do this normally, but I sure as heck don’t…) As for the knitting? N had like 5 different hats, a sweater, and a blanket waiting for her. Are they beautiful and am I glad I did it? Totally! Could the hours I spent knitting hats and sweaters for my summer baby been channeled in a slightly better direction? 100%.

How can I make my nesting more productive?

First of all, it’s important to nest! Your life is about to change immensely. Your mind knows that it needs to be getting things ready and safe for baby. The reason we want to nest is to alleviate stress and anxieties in our mind. We want a more peaceful life and home to bring baby into. Now, onto the tips that will really help your productivity

Tip 1: Categorize your Nesting (think beyond the nursery…)

A lot of first time moms make the mistake of following their nesting urges too specifically. Take my knitting example. My mind ran wild with the need to prepare, and knitting tasks are time consuming, so whenever I was knitting the urge was fulfilled, but I wasn’t necessarily getting much done.

Trina’s nesting with L manifested in the nursery. Her nursery was absolutely beautifully coordinated, and all handmade! But I know in retrospect she thought some of the time could have been spent on other important tasks.

My point? Go for the beautiful nursery, and totally make things for your baby, but think about other parts of your life that could use a bit of magic nesting dust 😉

In our FREE email course, Nest Smart: A Crash Course in Nesting, we emphasize the 5 pillars of nesting. Five realms of your life that need preparation before birth!

  • Preparing the team (that’s you and your partner!)
  • Preparing the home
  • Preparing for the big day
  • Preparing to breastfeed
  • Preparing for life with a new baby

Think about how you can “nest” in each of these categories, and be sure to enroll in the FREE 7-day Nest Smart Series for more info and action items to get the ball rolling within each essential nesting category.

Tip 2: Create Timeline-Based Checklists

Once you have an idea of the “nesting categories” that are important to you and making the most of your baby prep, you’ll want to create checklists of things to do within each category. Ideally, you want these checklists to be ordered chronologically. This will make tackling them so much easier.

For example, in your “preparing the home” list you might have:

  • Stock the pantry with non-perishables
  • Do a deep clean
  • Make freezer meals
  • Finish the nursery
  • Do bulk shopping of household supplies
  • Create a monthly budget for maternity leave
  • Schedule pet care for during labor and delivery

Okay, so you probably don’t want to do the deep clean in week 31, and you also probably don’t want to be doing your Costco run of household supplies in week 40 (though it is possible…) I think you get the idea. Give yourself weekly goals of what you want to accomplish when.

What if you don’t know where to start on timeline based checklists?

I know from experience that this is easier said than done. In my first pregnancy, I did almost all of my baby, home and labor prep in the two weeks before I was due. I literally went to Walmart and bought paper products for our home in early labor because I hadn’t done it yet.

This is a big reason why I think timeline checklists are key! You can snag our 12+ pages of carefully crafted, trimester specific nesting checklists in the Nesting Planner. It’s just one aspect of the planner that we know will make your nesting more productive and less stressful.

Tip 3: Create Sub-Lists

Sub-lists. Are you sensing a theme here? Lists are going to be your best friend if you are serious about making the most of your 9 months to prepare. While not every task related to preparing for baby requires a sub list, many do.

For example, if your task is “stock the freezer” there are a fair amount of steps involved with making the happen:

  • Find recipes to create into freezer meals (I love Kelly’s Complete Freezer Cooking Bundle)
  • Create a shopping list based on meals chosen. Or don’t, because Kelly’s cookbook comes with premade grocery lists for up to 30 meals 😉
  • Get ingredients
  • Label bags
  • Have a clear and clean prep space
  • Chop and prep items
  • Bag meals and freeze

This is just one example of many. I think you can imagine just how many topics on your to-do lists will require more specific lists for accomplishing that task. Maybe you’re already a list person and this will come easily to you. If you’re not, embrace the list, it’s going to ease your nesting anxiety so much!

Tip 4: Keep all Pregnancy, Birth and Baby-related paperwork together

Aha. Not a strong suit of mine… but I highly recommend getting a big old binder to house all of your paperwork. All of my things tended to be scattered about, stained with a coffee mark, or wrinkled (not proud…) So, do better than I did!

Gather all of the important things into one place, such as:

  • Questions and notes from your prenatal appointments
  • Ultrasound pictures
  • Birth-related paperwork and/or information from any birth classes you may have taken
  • Any journaling or worksheets you’ve used to prepare your relationship for life with a baby
  • Hospital bag packing lists, and other to do lists you create (like those in tips 2 & 3)
  • Info and paperwork related to finding support people such as: photographers, childcare info, pediatrician info, doula contact, lactation consultants etc.

This is yet another reason we created the Nesting Planner, because we know how important having everything in one place is. All of this stuff (and more) is in there! It will all be together without you having to think about it or gather.

Tip 5: Create space for the less “logical tasks” your mind wants to do

Chances are, while you are nesting you are going to have some intrinsic needs that don’t really make sense. Make time for these things. Some part of you may need to hand sew three onesies for your baby, or create a super detailed quilt. And you totally should! So while you are scheduling and figuring out when to get everything else done, be sure to make time for the less logical tasks too.

Tip 6: Alleviate some of the anxiety fueling your nesting

For some women, the urge to nest can start to interfere with your life. In particular, many of my mom friends related it to pregnancy insomnia. Just when you want to lay down your mind starts swimming with everything that needs to be done. You might feel a sense of time running out or slipping away.

You can make this a little better by:

  • Making time for self-care and finding ways to de-stress
  • Getting active with a prenatal fitness program or outdoor activity
  • Talking about your anxiety or worries related to baby prep with your partner or even your provider.
  • Signing up for an online birth class! You might be surprised that a lot of your anxiety is fueled by the unknown of birth. Education can really help this
  • Having a plan for getting everything done, creating lists, and trusting yourself

If you have any concerns that what you are feeling is not normal, or your nesting is feeling a lot more like anxiety DO NOT hesitate to bring this up to your provider. They can help!

Tip 7: Don’t take it on alone!

Preparing for a baby is a lot of work, and not something you should do alone. Lean on your partner, let them know specific ways they can help. They may even have some nesting ideas of their own. Take your family and friends’ up on their offers to help. Delegate tasks entirely, or tackle some of your second trimester checklist or third trimester checklist items together.

The 5 Best Nesting Activities

With the above tips, you’ll be well on your way to more logical and productive nesting in pregnancy. But I couldn’t wrap this article up without sharing what I see as the five best nesting activities. Five activities that you can commit to doing right away that are going to yield HUGE results in making your birth or life with your new baby easier.

1. Stock your freezer

So, I know we touched on this as an example above, and that wasn’t by accident. This is truly one of the best things you can do while nesting. It is going to be the thing that your postpartum self is most thankful for, I can guarantee it. You need to eat, and especially if you’re breastfeeding you’re going to be hungry! Having healthy, real ingredient meals, ready to be dumped into the crockpot is the best.

What’s more? Take out is unhealthy and expensive. Having healthy yet delicious freezer meals on hand might also be your ticket to getting your body back after baby. Get this task done quickly and with ease using The Complete Freezer Bundle, it’s how I’ve been doing monthly meal prep for years.

2. Get baby’s space ready in YOUR room

You know (and want) to get your nursery looking perfect, but in reality, baby will likely be sleeping in your room for the first few months. The AAP recommends at least 6 months of “co-rooming” to reduce the risk of SIDS. That means you and baby are in the same room, but in your own separate sleep spaces.

Be sure to create the perfect baby sleep environment in your room outfitted for ease of newborn care with things like:

  • A sleep space for baby (Pack and Plays work great and will serve you for travel down the road)
  • A nursing chair and nursing caddy
  • A changing area and diapering supplies
  • A nightlight or other low-lighting option for middle of the night feeds

3. Complete a childbirth class

Nothing will ease your nesting mind more than a childbirth class. It’s proactive, will fill you with knowledge, and is a concrete way to prepare with your partner! Just what your nesting itch ordered actually. The problem can often be finding the time to actually attend the class or finding a class that fits your specific birth needs. Online childbirth classes are a wonderful option for parents facing those challenges.

Here are a few of the best:

  • Mama Natural Online Birth Course: A MUST for any mama wishing to have a natural birth, truly the best class out there if you want to deliver without an epidural. It’s the only online childbirth class out there taught by a Certified Nurse Midwife.
  • KOPA Prepared: Online Childbirth Class: Involves partners extensively, emphasizes a natural birth but also prepares with a flexible mindset. This class is well designed, thorough and taught by a Certified Childbirth Educator.
  • Online Prenatal Class for Couples: With only a 2 hour run-time, this class will teach you everything you need to know fast, and it’s taught by an L&D nurse!

4. Create a baby clothes organization system

While you are in the mood to organize and obsess over every detail of the nursery, make the most of it by creating an awesome and organized baby clothing system. Baby clothes are tricky. In the first year alone there are five different size ranges. And between gifts and hand-me-downs, you are likely being given clothes in a variety of sizes.

Make sure you don’t miss a single outfit by creating a system. I recommend getting a bin for each size range and clearly labeling. Then within each bin, create bags for different types of clothing (short sleeved, long sleeved, pants, PJs, etc.). This will make it easy to swap out clothes for use, and to store for future kids.

5. Do a purge/deep clean of the house

Maybe obvious, but still a good one. In the final weeks leading up to birth, I recommend you purge, purge, purge. Between your registry and other gifts from your shower, I bet you are already acquiring a ton of baby stuff. And in the first year it seems to keep coming! Make space and get organized now. It will also be helpful to have good organization in place to save you time and frustration when a newborn is around.

Once your home is free of clutter, do a deep clean in the week before your due date. Maybe you, maybe a loved one, or maybe a schedule cleaning service 🙂 however you need to get it done. You will love bringing baby home to a fresh and clean space.

Get Nesting, Mama!

Alright, now you’re equipped with a ton of great tips on how to make your nesting more logical and productive. You don’t have to do it alone, The Nesting Planner and friends and family will help you get everything you need to get done before baby. We’d be truly honored to join you in your baby prep.

If you’re looking for other list-based articles to help get on track, don’t miss:

  • First, Second and Third Trimester To Do Lists
  • 17 Ways I Should Have Prepared for Baby
  • 17 Things to do in the Final Weeks before Birth

Don’t forget to enroll in our FREE Nest Smart email course. This 7-day class is full of great tips, action items, and ready-made lists to help you get on track fast.

Any nesting tips you might add to the list? Leave a comment below!

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Guide to Nesting pin3

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