Nesting instinct

■ 3rd trimester

As your due date nears, you may find yourself cleaning cupboards, washing walls, organizing your closets, cleaning out the garage, sorting the baby's clothes or decorating the nursery. The powerful urge to clean, organize and decorate before the baby arrives is called the nesting instinct. It's usually strongest just before delivery.

Nesting gives you a sense of accomplishment before the birth and allows you to come home afterward to a clean house. The desire to prepare your home can be useful because it'll give you more time later to recover and spend time with your baby. But don't overdo it and wear yourself out. You'll need your energy for the hard work of labor.

Cleaning precautions. No evidence links normal use of household cleaners with birth defects. Always follow safety instructions from the manufacturer, and that goes double when you're pregnant. Never mix ammonia with chlorine-based products, such as bleach, because the combination produces toxic fumes. Wear gloves when cleaning, and don't directly inhale any strong fumes. (See also Painting.)

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