Busy nesting; no time for resting

The mummy diaries An obsession with washing, wiping, and vacuuming is one of the stranger side effects of pregnancy, writes Karen Franklin.

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One of the stranger side effects of pregnancy is that I have become obsessed with cleaning. The so-called "nesting instinct" has kicked in with a vengeance. I am barely out of bed each morning before I don my rubber gloves and set to work on that day's all-important domestic task. Don't get me wrong, cleaning does not usually appear anywhere near the top of my priority list. In fact, it's probably lurking in bottom place, mainly because it's the quickest and easiest way to ruin a perfectly good manicure. I can feel the nail polish just chipping off my fingertips at the mere thought of squirting a bottle of kitchen cleaner. This time, however, in the battle of vanity versus maternity, I am horrified to report that the latter has taken the lead. Tidying, dusting, washing, wiping, vacuuming and scrubbing are now all part of my daily routine.

It's utterly shocking but I have actually sprayed my can of furniture polish more frequently than my can of hairspray in the last couple of weeks. It has taken over my everyday life, like a temporary obsessive compulsive disorder. I can't open a cupboard without adjusting the spacing between the food cans or look in the fridge without turning the bottles so the labels are facing forward. I've perched on the top of ladders to clean cupboards, been on my hands and knees sweeping under the cooker and spent hours folding and then refolding virtually every item of clothing I own.

Nesting is a common trait for expectant mothers which ­usually occurs in the last months of pregnancy, and is the mum's way of preparing the home for the new baby's arrival. It makes perfect sense to get everything ready for the little one, but I have turned into an extreme Stepford Wife. The queen of domestic dominance. I have had to increase my number of weekly manicures just to cope with this new found obsession. Even more startling, last week I wore no eye make up and had my hair tied in a ponytail for nearly 36 hours. It's ruining me.

I've also only got a couple of weeks left to get my hospital bag packed. All of my pregnancy books recommend that the mother's bag is ready at least four weeks before the due date in case you go into premature labour. I'm afraid I may need a little more preparation time as the books seem to have left out half of the essential items. The only toiletries listed were toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush and shampoo. I looked on the other page for the rest of the list. No mention of cleanser, toner, facial oil, body scrub, bath soak, body moisturiser or hair products. Honestly. It says to take an old nightdress or T-shirt for labour. Well, I want something new. This is the biggest event of my life and I'm certainly not going to go through it in a tatty outfit.

Top of the packing list is the mother's birth plan, which I've not actually written yet. My plan is just to get it over with as quickly as possible, looking as best as can be expected at the end of it. I'm not sure that's what a birth plan actually is though. A friend of mine said it's a form of communication which you give to the doctors and midwives stating what sort of labour you would like. For example, which drugs you would like to take if the pain is too unbearable. Ah, that's easy then. Mine will just say one word: "Any".