Birds do it, and so do cats, apes and other mammals preparing for birth. Nesting is an instinctual mechanism that prepares your “empty nest” to suddenly become quite full. And trust us: You'll want to make the most of the impulse before baby arrives and finding a moment to shower will seem like a serious challenge.
Nesting is like spring cleaning on steroids—it's all about organization, cleanliness and preparation. Here’s a bunch of last-minute details that you’ll want to check off your list before going into labor, so you can put your mind and ease and relax before the big day:
1. Prep Your Essentials
For such little creatures, babies need so much. They go through more clothes, diapers and creams than you can imagine. Stock up on baby soap, cotton pads, a rectal digital thermometer, rubbing alcohol, a nasal syringe, nail clippers, BPA-free bottles, nipples and more. And for you, pick up plenty of super-absorbent maxi pads, witch hazel, Tucks medicated pads and ice packs (not the kinds of things you want to run out of in the middle of the night).
2. Cook in Quantity
If your nesting instinct is accompanied by a cooking obsession, take advantage and get your meal prep on. Make extra servings of your favorite freezer-friendly foods. Make soups, bake muffins, prep hot cereals and stews, and then store, clearly marked, in single-meal containers in the freezer. You’ll be especially grateful to come home to homemade meals and snacks after spending time in the birth center or hospital.
3. Do Laundry
Wash your towels, duvet cover, pillow shams, throw rugs, guest sheets and anything else that needs a once-over before baby arrives. Use an alternative to hefty chemical detergents. I like Dapple products because they contain eco-friendly formulas that are safe for your family and the environment. If you live in a place where you don’t have access to laundry, consider hiring a laundry service to take care of your needs for the first six weeks until you get into a rhythm. Stock up on your preferred detergent and cleaning solutions, because you'll be washing lots and lots of little onesies, pajamas and receiving blankets.
4. Load Up Your Pantry
Stock up on staples like it’s going out of style—because it is. You won’t be doing the shopping once the baby arrives—you won’t have time. It’s all about keeping the pantry healthy and convenient. Think nuts (the perfect nutrient-dense nibbler), trail mix, quinoa and broths for easy soups. Other goods to get as you prepare for birth: whole-grain crackers, canned beans, brown rice and healthy sauces.
5. Order Birth Announcements
You can get these online or at a stationery store, so they’re ready to go as soon as you know the final baby stats. Address the envelopes now so they’re ready to be stuffed and mailed. A great and easy way to announce baby's birth: Pingg.com. They have a variety of designs and you don't have to bother with postage unless you really want to.
6. Restock Your Refrigerator
Out with the old, in with the new! Throw away any outdated items and shop for fresh ones. Stock up on foods for breastfeeding that you’ll want to have on hand once baby arrives, like filtered water, fruits, veggies, hummus, prewashed salad greens and so on. Make it easy on yourself and order your groceries online.
7. Spring into Clean Mode
You know the spring cleaning that you’re always putting off until next fall? Whatever the season, now’s the time to tackle it while your nesting instinct is in full swing. Wipe down the window sills and blinds, wash the floors and vacuum under the couch and between the cushions—you may find a nice chunk of change while you’re at it! Be sensible in your quest for cleanliness: Call in a team of friends, blast some good dance music and get moving. Use chemical-free cleaning solvents. I love the Mrs. Meyer’s brand and Honest Company. Don’t push yourself if you’re pooped. Instead, push someone else, like your partner. Stay as close to the floor as possible. In fact, hanging out on hands and knees scrubbing the floors Cinderella-style is not a bad idea. The position helps to open up your pelvis and the hip swaying encourages your baby to move down into the pelvic outlet.
8. Style Baby
Don’t overbuy while you prepare for birth, but make sure you’re well-stocked on those newborn essentials (T-shirts, onesies, sweaters, receiving blankets and booties). Prewash baby’s outfits so there are plenty of things for her to wear. If you haven’t had a baby shower, put together a registry online to get all the basics and beyond.
9. Style Mama
Get fitted for the big day and postpartum. Buy adjustable nursing bras as well as nursing pads and easy-open nursing shirts. And stock up on soft, full-back cotton underwear. Your thong days are over for a bit, my friend. You’ll need big bloomer action for the first few weeks after the birth. Don’t go for the expensive undies here, as they may become stained with blood and discharge. Plan on tossing the granny panties about eight weeks postpartum. For when it's time to push, you might try Pretty Pushers, a stylish, affordable gown designed for labor and delivery.
10. Make a Who-to-Call Contact List
Set up the list now, so your birth coach and partner know who to inform of your new arrival. You can use it later to e-mail your birth announcement to your whole list. You can also set up a call chain, where you enlist five people who call five people who call another five people, and the information gets disseminated quickly and effectively.
For more lifestyle tips for pregnancy and beyond, check out Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy, foreword by Dr. Christiane Northrup.