What if the “Nesting Instinct” Never Kicks In?

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Alysha Findley)

When you’re pregnant you hear a lot of old wives’ tales, maternity myths and “what to expect while expectings”. My first pregnancy was relatively easy and uneventful and the first trimester I spent, like most women, sleepy and tired. So I was really looking forward to the “nesting stage” which is supposed to kick in during the second trimester and peak in the third. I couldn’t wait to regain my energy and direct it toward preparing the “nest” for my baby’s arrival. But what if the nesting instinct never kicks in?

The nesting stage is actually not mythical at all and researchers who’ve studied it call it a “powerful motivating force”. Friends have described to me how they, almost maniacally, cleaned out closets, sorted clothes, organized everything they could get their hands on. Not to mention put together beautiful nurseries for their little ones. So…why not me?

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

It’s not that I didn’t do anything to ready our home for the baby’s arrival. We bought a crib, a stroller, other baby gear and clothes. I was excited to be a mother (not to mention elated to not be pregnant anymore), but I definitely didn’t experience that nesting buzz everyone talks about. When I couldn’t sleep, you didn’t find me sorting the Tupperware on the kitchen floor at 3 am; you found me watching HBO on the couch eating handfuls of Goldfish. I didn’t scrub anything or sterilize anything and I certainly didn’t knit anything.

My completely anecdotal, unscientific theory is that, subconsciously or not, I was resisting the radical changes that I knew would transpire once the baby arrived: a huge loss of freedom, time and privacy, sleep deprivation, an altered dynamic with my husband and friends. And it didn’t help that most people don’t want to talk about the imminent upheaval as if it signals you aren’t grateful or excited about having a baby. Everyone is congratulating you all the time – which is really nice, but it seems as if the only proper response is “Thank you! I can’t wait!” instead of “Yikes!”.

(Image credit: Claire Bock)

The good news is the baby arrived, we were both healthy, I felt good, the baby slept a ton for the first month or so and, you know what? I did some “nesty” stuff. Not because I had an urge or a compulsion, but because I had some time on my hands. So for all the pregnant women out there who would rather curl up in their nest of a bed as much as possible instead of feather their nest – it’s normal, too (I declare it so!).

If you are not visited by the Nesting Energy Fairy here are some alternatives to scrubbing the bathroom grout with a toothbrush: go to a movie, meet friends for lunch, have a romantic dinner with your partner, read a book, go for a walk at 8 pm – because you can.