Tell and Sell Stories spoke to three women who, when pregnant, went to nesting EXTREMES! Most women become house proud when expecting a little one, but Samantha, Laura and Lisa scrubbed the floors over and over, bleached the toilets several times a day and one of them even got rid of their dogs because she thought they were too dirty! We secured all three of them a deal with the Daily Mail, in the weekly Femail magazine. They each shared a very honest account about their obsessive behaviour in their homes in the nine months leading up to meeting their new arrivals.
Here are their stories: For the fifth time that day, heavily pregnant Samantha Winterburn got down on her hands and knees and started scrubbing the kitchen floor until it shone. Afterwards, the 32-year-old trudged upstairs, as she’d already done four times that day, to clean the bathroom — finishing yet another bottle of bleach. Only when she could be sure there wasn’t a speck of dirt in the new house she’d insisted they buy when she discovered she was pregnant, did she allow herself to sit down and rest alongside her husband, David. But the next day the cycle would start again, and it continued until she gave birth to her first child, Francesca, three years ago. ‘I was stocking up on bleach every week,’ she says. ‘I used it so much it burnt my nostrils and chest. I also treated myself to a new vacuum cleaner to ensure I was getting every bit of dirt off the carpets.’ While it’s normal for heavily pregnant women to experience the urge to ‘nest’ and make sure their house is spick and span before the baby’s arrival, a recent survey found a third suffer from a much more extreme version. Instead of just cleaning and tidying, they take drastic action including redecorating and renovating their home, giving away pets and even, like sales executive Samantha, moving house. ‘When I was pregnant, I got the urge to move very strongly,’ she says. ‘We’d been renting some- where, but I was desperate to get a place of our own and I wanted a new-build so it would be perfectly clean for the baby.’ When Samantha was 24 weeks pregnant, she and husband Dave, a 42-year-old engineer, moved into their new three-bedroom semi- detached house. Whereupon she immediately turned into a cleaning- obsessed control freak. ‘I’d been signed off work — I had sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome and was classed as high risk — but instead of resting, I cleaned non-stop.’ Even at weekends, Samantha would scrub. She had a picture in her head of how she wanted their home to be, and refused to rest until it was just right. ‘My habits were very similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it got seriously out of control. Once I’d made the bed I wouldn’t let Dave sit on it again—it had to stay freshly made with no creases. ‘Same with the toilets but on an even more extreme scale. Once I’d cleaned one, I didn’t use it for the rest of the day and Dave wasn’t allowed to either.’ Samantha admits now that her husband of three years had no idea just how bad she’d become. ‘He was always at work, so he never saw me at my worst. I would start cleaning from the minute I woke to the moment my head hit the pillow. ‘Friends who came round would laugh about how much bleach I got through. They said they’d never known anything like it. They also told me it would all change when I had the baby, but deep down I knew it wouldn’t.’ As well as cleaning, Samantha was constantly rearranging the nursery, ensuring the baby clothes were in age and size order. She would also unpack, repack and re- check her hospital bag every day. ‘I couldn’t help myself,’ she says. Even after Francesca was born, Samantha’s extreme behaviour continued and she describes her house as ‘show-home clean’. Midwife Katie Hilton, who’s studied the phenomenon, says , nesting is an entirely natural instinct: ‘Research suggests nesting is an inbuilt need to pre- pare for the arrival of a new baby before life becomes too hectic. ‘But while this is completely normal behaviour, it’s important to be sensible — no overstretching, reaching or heavy lifting.’ While the study found most pregnant women — 83 per cent — put cleaning top of the ‘to do’ list, Laura Farr took far more extreme action when she discovered she was pregnant with twins — she gave away her two beloved chihua- huas, Dolly and Dusty. ‘I’d had my dogs for four years and they were like my babies,’ says the 31-year-old from Hornchurch, Essex. ‘They got all of my attention. I spoilt them rotten.’ But Laura’s obsession with cleanliness, and a fear she wouldn’t have time to treat them properly once the twins arrived, led her to give them to her mother to look after m when she was 33 weeks pregnant. Her extreme nesting urge had I kicked in after her 24-week scan. ‘It was like something clicked inside me,’ says Laura, who’d owned a dress hire company that she sold shortly before giving birth. ‘After my 24-week scan, I felt like I’d reached a milestone. I’d been worried I was going to lose my I babies, but the scan reassured me. ‘It was then that I started cleaning as much as I could. I was still working full time but spent at least two hours a day tidying and ensur- ing the house was spick and span. ‘I also began panic-buying items for the babies — I bought two of everything, including things I didn’t even need. ‘I’d never felt that way before and it was only when I told my friends what I’d been doing that they told me I was nesting. ‘My husband Terry thought it was a bit over the top, but I knew my life was about to change for ever and cleaning made me feel in control.’ But try as she might, she could never remove all evidence of Dolly and Dusty. ‘I was worried about the twins’ health and I couldn’t bear them being around germs and dirt from the dogs,’ says Laura. So, with a heavy heart, she made a huge decision. The dogs would have to go. Luckily, her mother Penny offered to take them. ‘My hormones were all over the place and I felt so guilty giving them to Mum,’ Laura says. ‘I cried all day and Terry thought I’d lost the plot, but there was no question in my mind. I had to put the babies first.’ Her guilt was so intense that three months after her twins Harry and Darcey were born in February this year, she decided to let the dogs move back in. But Laura’s obsession with clean- liness hadn’t gone away. She was still terrified about exposing the twins to germs. ‘One day, I was feeding my son when I spotted a dog hair on the bottle. At that moment, I knew I couldn’t have them back,’ Laura says. ‘Now the dogs are back at Mum’s.’ It’s unknown whether women with twins are more likely to show stronger nesting behaviour but Linda Geddes, author of pregnancy book Bumpology, believes extreme nesting is most likely due to the effect of changing hormones in the brain when a woman is expecting. She says: ‘For most of pregnancy, progesterone dominates, but as birth approaches, oestrogen begins to rise, and women who experience the greatest increase in this hormone report feeling more bonded to their babies once they’re born. Other effects of hormonal changes include making expectant mothers quite obsessed with their baby or babies, and more vigilant and aware of potential threats. ‘So it’s only natural that women gravitate towards the home and begin obsessively nesting. But extreme nesting doesn’t just kick in when the arrival of the baby is imminent. For 37-year-old Lisa Meakin, it started the moment she discovered she was 12 weeks pregnant with twins. Lisa, already the mother of a ten-month-old daughter Alice, believes knowing she would be having three children under the age of two was responsible for her extreme reaction. First, she ordered her husband Chris, a 39-year-old company direc- tor, to redecorate the whole down- stairs of their home. Lisa, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, says: ‘I was rather picky — I kept sending Chris out for paint swatches because every sample he brought home wasn’t quite right. ‘As the pregnancy progressed, I became more and more determined for everything to look perfect. Chris thought I’d gone barmy, but luckily for me, and him, he did as he was told.’ Next came the baby’s outfits. ‘I’d kept everything from my first daughter, so I got everything out of storage and started organising,’ she says. ‘All Alice’s old clothes needed washing and sorting by age, then by colour, as well as day and night outfits — all in rows according to size and labelled.’ After that, she blitzed the kitchen and cooked as many homemade meals as the freezer could hold, ready for the months ahead. ‘It was literally bursting,’ she says. ‘Something in my head was telling me to prepare, prepare, prepare. ‘Towards the end, when I was still running up and down stairs with piles of washing, Chris asked me to calm down a bit. He was worried I was pushing myself too much. ‘It caused a few arguments. So I forced myself to relax — though when Chris wasn’t looking, I kept doing last-minute checks that we had all the bits we needed.’ But Lisa doesn’t see her extreme nesting as a problem. Rather she believes it helped that everything was ready when she gave birth to Isabelle and Nicole. She says: ‘I’m so relieved I acted the way I did. I dread to think what kind of mess we’d have been in if I hadn’t spent my pregnancy nesting.’
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