Nesting or Bursts of Energy Before Labor

Pregnant woman folding baby clothes, mid section, elevated view.

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A sudden burst of energy before labor is something that many people talk about. No one really knows if it's a nesting instinct that prepares you to finish getting your house ready for your baby's birth, or if it's just a sudden realization that you're running out of time and really need to get things done. But it can be a sign of impending labor.

Not Everyone Experiences Nesting

Those who talk about nesting or a sudden burst of energy before labor relay tales of organizing baby clothes, painting rooms, and just generally having more energy after weeks of feeling really tired. Some people may experience this for several months before their babies are born, whereas others have this burst of energy just a few days before the baby is born.

And then there are those who simply never experience nesting in pregnancy or labor at all. If you're not experiencing the labor nesting instinct, don't worry. Labor is still around the corner. The good news is that whether or not you experience a burst of energy or nesting, you will eventually have your baby.

What to Do If You Have a Burst of Energy

The experiences of moms vary, even from pregnancy to pregnancy. If you do experience that burst of energy at the end of your pregnancy, it may allow you to get some things done before your baby arrives, but remember not to overdo it. Don't tire yourself out in case your labor should start soon after.

If you find yourself with extra energy a few months, weeks, or days before labor starts, here are some ways to take advantage of the time safely.

  • Make sure you have the most important things done first. This includes having everything ready that your baby will absolutely need (diapers, clothes, blankets, etc.), as well as getting the car seat installed and ready.
  • Consider making large batches of food and freezing them. This will save you a lot of grief and hassle when you're sleep-deprived and don't have the time or energy to deal with meals.
  • Let your partner help. To avoid overextending yourself, delegate some responsibilities to your partner. Maybe they can set up the crib, or you could go shopping for baby supplies together.
  • Be safe. Don't climb up ladders, lift heavy objects, or use harmful chemicals like bleach or oven cleaner. Jobs that require any of these tasks should be delegated.
  • Hold yourself back. Don't go overboard or become obsessed with preparation. Try washing the baby clothes and simply folding them without color-coding and organizing them by months.
  • Take some time for yourself. Life is going to get a whole lot busier once that baby is born. If you can sneak in a nap, a manicure, or something else you love to indulge in, this is a great time to do it.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.