Friday, June 18, 2010

Preparing the nest

There’s nothing like late pregnancy to inspire all sorts of weird behaviour

By the time you read this, I will be a mother of two children.
It’s something I’ve wanted for years now and our family is buzzing with excitement.
But at the same time I am filled with anxiety, fear, worry and just a teeny bit of dread.
Firstly I’m going to hospital for an elective caesarean, which was not what I had originally planned, but as most parents know, birth plans can get thrown out the window.
Our baby is still breech, and after weighing up all the pros and cons of vaginal breech birth, we believe a caesar is the safest option for our baby.
The thought of giving birth in this way is disappointing to me. I’m a great believer in natural birthing, and I suppose I’m lucky that the birth of my first child was so positive.
I went through a period of time feeling like a failure. Despite lying upside-down off the couch every day, doing handstands in the pool, visiting a chiropractor and getting acupuncture and moxibustion, I just could not convince my unborn baby to turn around.
So it took me a while to come to terms with the fact that my ideal birth was not going to happen.
But then, there is a voice in my head saying “well at least you don’t have to endure labour pain”.
And that thought comes as quite a relief as I still remember labouring with my daughter, and feeling like I was being tortured.
Now that I’m embracing my new birth plan, there are still fears about being cut open, recovery, and the possibility of my rheumatoid arthritis flaring.
I’ve had a few panic attacks, but most bizarrely, I’ve started nesting like I’ve never nested before.

Nesting instinct refers to an urge in pregnant animals to prepare a home for the upcoming newborn/s. It is found in a variety of animals (both mammals and birds).
Domestic cats, for instance, bring straw, cloth scraps, and other soft materials to a selected nook or box.
Rodents tend to seek out the lowest sheltered spot available to give birth.
In humans, the nesting instinct can occur from as early as five months of pregnancy, but is strongest just before the onset of labour.
It’s an uncontrollable urge to clean the house, tie up loose ends and organise everything.
The act of nesting puts a woman in control and gives a sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes nesting can bring about irrational behaviours such as throwing away sheets and towels because they felt a strong need to have brand new, clean ones.
Or cleaning the floors by hand with a scrubbing brush, or colour-coding your wardrobe.
This boost of energy can be one of the more humorous aspects of pregnancy, particularly if you’re planning to clean the entire house armed with a toothbrush.
Pregnancy is a time of intense hormonal fluctuations, so it’s quite normal to act crazy.
Here’s a few tips for pregnant mums out there who get the nesting urge:
In the final weeks of your pregnancy, don’t start painting the baby’s room. You need to avoid exposure to oil-based paints, old paint that may contain lead and some latex paints contain mercury. Water-based paints can be used but always check the label. If you are painting at any time during your pregnancy, make sure the room is well ventilated, wear protective clothing and gloves, and never eat or drink in the painting area.
When cleaning, try to use less chemicals than normal. Look at using eco-friendly cleaning products, or better still, use some natural alternatives like bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Avoid oven cleaners, dry cleaning products, and never mix ammonia with chlorine-based products like bleach or cleanser, as the combination will produce toxic fumes. Wear rubber gloves, and try not to overdo it. 
If you have pets, always wear gloves when cleaning up their mess and avoid yard work or gardening as the soil may be contaminated.
For some women, the nesting instinct can mean cooking lots of meals and filling up the freezer. If you do prepare meals in advance, make sure to keep spices to a minimum if you are breastfeeding, make foods high in protein, and freeze food that is appropriate for the season (such as winter soups or stews).
Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk of injury. Trying to squeeze yourself into kitchen cupboards to clean them out, or climbing ladders is not a good idea. Also be careful if you intend to move furniture around or lift heavy items. Wait until your partner is home, then tell him what you want done.
It’s interesting to note that men who are expecting a baby often feel the need to clean and organise as well.
Many start looking for a new job, work on their car, or landscape the garden.
Some, like my dear husband, are just ordered to work. 
In the past week, I’ve been rushing around with the thought that “we’re not ready for this baby yet”, so I have become very bossy barking orders to him.
With my first pregnancy, I mopped all the floors the day before I went into labour, but this time I’m sorting out baby stuff not once or twice, but going over it all many times.
Packing and repacking the bag for hospital, counting nappies, and washing bottles that may not be used for months.
There’s a sense that I’ve forgotten something, but as my husband reminds me “if we’ve forgotten something, I’ll just go out and buy it for you”.
This week’s featured book (Pregnancy & Birth) has helped keep my mind at ease as I tick off final preparations for the arrival of our baby.


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