My partner is so worried about germs she won't let us visit my sister (who admittedly is a bit sloppy about housework). How can I reassure her that it will be all right?
I can understand your partner's concern for the baby, as there is a lot of public awareness around bacteria and germs. You only need to watch the television adverts to see ad after ad about disinfectants, anti bacteria, bleach etc. However, in wanting a sterile environment we are also killing good bacteria that can actually help us. Also, babies will continue to come into contact with germs despite parents best efforts to avoid them. It is not possible to really live in a germ-free world. But that's a good thing! We need germs too. Exposure to microbes and getting infected with some of them strengthens the body's natural immune system against allergies. An immune system that has little exposure to germs therefore sees dust and pollen as dangerous invaders and responds in a way that causes asthma and allergies.
In fact a baby begins preparing for the germs it will encounter at birth while it is still in the womb. The placenta acts as a filter that lets through small amounts of allergens and microbes. It is thought that by the age of three years, a child as learned all it needs to know to fight against germ invaders.
So try to reassure your partner, that even though your sister is not as house proud, a visit to her home is unlikely to harm the baby. One exception though is that hand washing is paramount. Most infections are spread though the hand, as most people do not have a very good hand washing technique if at all. Before preparing bottles for a baby or preparing any food we must all remember to wash our hands thoroughly. And definitely after every visit to the bathroom.
Ref: Ref; Expecting everything you need to know about pregnancy labour and birth 2004.McGrail A, Metland D