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 become full and quite busy for the next 18 years. Nesting is like spring cleaning on steroids. Organization, cleanliness and preparation are top priorities. Now it's time to clear some more space for your soon-to-be bundle of joy. If you get hit with the nesting instinct as you're preparing for birth, make the most of it -- now, before life becomes so hectic that when the baby arrives even finding a moment to take a shower can be challenging.
Here's a bunch of last-minute details that you'll want to check off your list before going into labor.
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).
Cook in Quantity: If your nesting instinct is accompanied by an obsession with cooking, 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 stew, and then store in single-meal containers in the freezer, clearly marked. You'll be especially grateful to come home to homemade meals and snacks after spending time in the birth center or hospital!
Do Laundry: Wash your towels, duvet cover, pillow shams, throw rugs, guest sheets and anything else that needs a once-over before the 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 will be washing lots and lots of little onesies, pajamas and receiving blankets.
Load Up Your Pantry: Stock up on staples like they are going out of style --because they are. You won't be doing the shopping once the baby arrives; you won't have time. It's all about keeping it 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 include whole grain crackers, canned beans, brown rice and healthy sauces.
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. And address the envelopes now so they're ready to be stuffed and mailed. A great and easy way to announce baby's birth is Pingg.com. They have a variety of designs and you don't have to bother with postage unless you really want to.
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 the baby has arrived -- filtered water, fruits, veggies, hummus, prewashed salad greens and so on. Make it easy on yourself and order your groceries online.
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 windowsills 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.
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.
Style Mama: Get fitted for the big day and postpartum. Buy nursing bras as well as nursing pads and easy-open (nursing) shirts. And stock up on soft, cotton, full-back 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 that will likely not wash away. Plan on tossing the granny panties about eight weeks postpartum. For pushing, you might try Pretty Pushers, a stylish affordable gown designed for labor and delivery.
Make a Who-to-Call List: Set up the list now, so your birth coach and partner know whom 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.
Latham Thomas is the author of forthcoming book: Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy, foreword by Dr. Christiane Northrup