Everyone knows that the nesting instinct in a pregnant woman is a real thing. It’s called an instinct because it isn’t something that is planned or pretended . . . women’s bodies (and all female bodies in the animal kingdom, for that matter) instinctually need to prepare for the baby to come. Parenting Weekly tells us that nesting can begin as early as 5 months into the pregnancy and include extreme behavior such as taking the knobs off cabinets to disinfect the screws that hold them on, sorting baby clothes over and over and over again, and cleaning every nook and cranny in the house with a toothbrush. Late in the pregnancy, another surge of nesting may occur and is thought by some to be the prelude to labor.

Interestingly, many adoptive mommies also experience nesting. When the child is coming, Momma-mode kicks in and other things are often put on hold while the house gets scrubbed, the nursery gets prepared, and all becomes ready to welcome the new little one. Considering that hormonal changes will give expectant mothers a strong sense of nesting even though they will not be bringing the baby home, adoptive mothers in an open adoption may want to consider nesting as a team.

Inviting your baby’s soon-to-be birth mother to join you in nesting activities may not only help the work get done faster, but it could be a wonderful bonding experience for the two women who will love the child more than any other person can. It could be a soothing and therapeutic activity for an expectant mother who is not only anticipating the child’s birth, but also grieving the child’s departure. Following are some activities that might be fun to do as a team of moms:

1. Design and create the nursery: Maybe you’ll enlist Dad or others in the painting of the nursery (probably not a good idea to have the pregnant mother breathing the fumes), but choosing which artwork to adorn the walls, where to put the rocking chair, what treasures go on the shelf, or which baby board books line the bookshelves can be fun and create a memorable experience. Chances are, if you’re working on the nursery together, the expectant mother will be in a healthier emotional state as she visualizes the wonderful place her child will be sleeping and cared for.

2. Shop for baby essentials: Diapers, wipes, hampers, car seats, strollers, clothing, and baby toys are all fun to shop for. If the expectant mom joins with you, she’ll have a part in the first months of the baby’s life. Besides, shopping is always more fun when done with a friend!

3. Clean the windows: And other stuff that can be monotonous and time-consuming. If you’re taking apart light fixtures to run them through the dishwasher, you’ll probably need another set of hands to pass the pieces to as you perch at the top of the ladder.

4. Yard work: Wanting to plant a flower garden to commemorate the new baby’s arrival? Or a tree or sod? Invite the baby’s soon-to-be birth mother along and ask for her opinion on plant varieties. There’s something about working in the great outdoors, feeling the earth, and creating beauty that breathes life into an individual and spirit into a relationship. Experience it together and you’ll be off to a great start!

Whatever nesting activity strikes your fancy at any given moment, consider the activity and how it might be an opportunity for you and the expectant mother you’ve been matched with to do something together. This is not only a gift to her, but you and your child will benefit greatly by the enhanced relationship as well.