Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Driven to clean: Nesting instinct among pregnant women has an evolutionary backstory

Date:
September 16, 2013
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
The overwhelming urge that drives many pregnant women to clean, organize and get life in order -— otherwise known as nesting —- is not irrational, but an adaptive behavior stemming from humans’ evolutionary past.

The overwhelming urge that drives many pregnant women to clean, organize and get life in order -- otherwise known as nesting -- is not irrational, but an adaptive behaviour stemming from humans' evolutionary past.

Researchers from McMaster University suggest that these behaviours -- characterized by unusual bursts of energy and a compulsion to organize the household -- are a result of a mechanism to protect and prepare for the unborn baby.

Women also become more selective about the company they keep, preferring to spend time only with people they trust, say researchers.

In short, having control over the environment is a key feature of preparing for childbirth, including decisions about where the birth will take place and who will be welcome.

"Nesting is not a frivolous activity," says Marla Anderson, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "We have found that it peaks in the third trimester as the birth of the baby draws near and is an important task that probably serves the same purpose in women as it does in other animals."

"It ties us to our ancestral past. Providing a safe environment helps to promote bonding and attachment between both the mother and infants," she says.

Since little scientific research had been done previously on nesting behaviours, the scientists set out to explore the psychology behind the phenomenon.

They designed two separate studies: a large online study comparing pregnant and non-pregnant women and a longitudinal study tracking women throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period.

Non-pregnant women -- who acted as the control group -- were compared at similar time intervals, using a questionnaire which was developed, in part, from interviews conducted with midwives.

"One of the apparent paradoxes of nesting is that in the third trimester of pregnancy women tell us that they are more tired while simultaneously showing an increase in activity," explains Mel Rutherford, a professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University. "So the urge to nest is a very powerful motivating force."

The next step, say researchers, is to examine how women might exhibit nesting behaviours when adopting a baby and whether or not expectant fathers might demonstrate similar behaviours in the months before a baby is born.

The research is published online in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marla V. Anderson, M.D. Rutherford. Evidence of a nesting psychology during human pregnancy. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2013.07.002

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Driven to clean: Nesting instinct among pregnant women has an evolutionary backstory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916090426.htm>.
McMaster University. (2013, September 16). Driven to clean: Nesting instinct among pregnant women has an evolutionary backstory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916090426.htm
McMaster University. "Driven to clean: Nesting instinct among pregnant women has an evolutionary backstory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916090426.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins