The nesting instinct isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Here is what’s happening as you ready your roost for your hatchling.
More than mere madness
There are bona fide scientific reasons to explain your out-of-character cleaning behavior, and the experience is actually beneficial. Jena Pincott, science writer and author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?, says, “Nesting helps us psychologically brace ourselves for the upcoming change in our life.” She speculates that the instinct to nest precedes even our hunter-gatherer days and is a broader, multispecies phenomenon. “All mammals seek a safe, calm and well-fortified place in which to give birth and protect a newborn—and we’re no exception.”
Age-old tradition isn’t the only contender to blame—the makings of our modern-day world factor in as well. According to Pincott, nesting in humans is triggered by culture, too. Thanks to all we watch and read, it’s likely that media and marketing are responsible for setting off more than one closet cleanout and shopping spree. After all, the power of suggestion is indeed a compelling thing.
The usual suspects
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the other major culprit: hormones. Pincott explains, “The pregnancy hormones progesterone and prolactin are both strongly associated with kinship, bonding and other warm, fuzzy feelings. Prolactin in particular makes us calmer, lowers our sex drive and decreases our yearning for novelty. Generally speaking, it turns our focus inward to family, friends, house and home.” As prolactin increases in the later months to prepare the body for breastfeeding, so, too, does the nesting instinct.