Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Are There Scientific Reasons for Our Desire to Nest When Pregnant?

nesting instinct when pregnant
Okay, so we have more on this nesting instinct business. This morning, our daily search of Google News for interesting pregnancy updates not only led us to Simon Cowell and Lauren Silvermann seeing each other (I wonder how many times the Daily Mail can stretch that one out), it enlightened us to an ongoing investigation into why we have a nesting instinct when pregnant.

This is one of psychology’s more beautiful studies, as it focuses on the adaptive behaviour of pregnant women. Over the years, we have sacrificed a lot in terms of evolutionary adaptions in order to carry foetuses in the way we do today. Our hips have narrowed and our backs have straightened so that we can evade predators, but this ultimately means that our bodies fight an uphill battle when it comes to birth. This study, however, investigates a rather more lovely side of adaptation.

According to Marla Anderson from McMaster University, nesting is all part of our animlastic desire to control the environment we are in as we reach our third trimester. Psychologically, we make conscious decisions to do what we can to form a safe environment for our pending infants. This means choosing who we spend time with carefully, and making our surroundings more comfortable. This, according to Anderson, is something that stems from our ancestors. Anderson also suggests that it acts as a form of bonding between the mother and infant, as she prepares to create an environment for her new arrival.

Researchers are now going to examine whether women experience the same instincts when they are adopting a baby. While a woman who is adopting an infant may not experience the same hormonal drives as a pregnant woman, she is mentally preparing herself for the arrival of an infant. Technically speaking, this could introduce the same psychological motivations that cause pregnant women to try and create a safe and protective environment for the foetus inside them.

The results of that particular stage of the study will be even more exciting, as they could indicate how much of a role the hormonal changes of pregnancy play in the nesting instinct. It is also worth considering how many social drivers there are behind such instincts. Like many old wives tales, simply being exposed to them on a regular basis can influence whether you subscribe to them. We are told so many times that we do nest during the later stages of pregnancy, that there is a chance that many of us just do it for conforming reasons, or because we are subliminally influenced.

It would be interesting to see how many of the study’s participants did actually nest. It is hard to determine whether they are influenced to do so because they have been exposed to the idea. Similarly, are women confusing the modern demands for pre-natal organisation with nesting? After all, the closer we get to the end of a pregnancy, the higher the need to stay organised. If, like many other naturally human women out there, you have left everything that seems slightly more important to the eleventh-hour, this too could be confused for nesting.


At Maternity Bliss, we will have a dig around for the study and existing data released so far, and see what (rudimentary) conclusions we can draw. In the meantime, we are also adding maternity beauty products alongside our maternity wear collection. Finally, we hope to compose a pregnancy fashion and style book for release in 2014, hopefully containing a combination of fun information and evidence-based tips.