Good hygiene is one of the most important things to practice during pregnancy. No one wants to catch any virus that may ultimately affect their growing baby. Some preventative methods that people take are to try to go out less during flu season, to avoid shaking people's hands, and to also have a hand sanitizer on standby to make sure that the least amount of germs are being picked up while in different places.
While we certainly do encourage moms to consider these methods, viruses, and bacteria unfortunately live all around us and are sometimes found in the most unexpected places. Another important factor to take into consideration is the fact that sometimes, moms just can’t avoid certain situations – at some point during the nine months of pregnancy, moms need to; go to work, go to the grocery store, go to doctors' appointments and go out to eat.
All these environments are breeding grounds for so many viruses and bacteria and it is always helpful to know which places are worst so that moms can come prepared. We’ve therefore compiled a list of unsanitary places pregnant moms will most likely go to. We’ve also decided to add in some unexpected places that are really not that bad for mom and baby's health and hygiene.
20 The Doctor's Office
We’re starting this list off with the one place you’ll most definitely visit quite a number of times during your pregnancy – your doctor’s office. This may come as a surprise to many people but the truth is – you can easily pick up all sorts of viruses while waiting to see the doctor.
Medical Daily explains that “Sterile waiting rooms and stale hallways do little to prevent bacteria from spreading between vulnerable patients and hospital staff. And without separate examination rooms for well patients and sick patients, people may enter with the sniffles and leave with something more serious”.
To deal with this, Web MD advises that you “try to avoid arms of chairs, faucet handles, etc.”. You will also need to wash your hands before and after the appointments and avoid touching or rubbing your eyes and nose as this can quickly make whatever you may have picked up, enter your body.
19 Lemon Wedges (Seriously)
This may be one of the biggest shocks to our list. Lemons have known antimicrobial properties, which is why a lot of cleaning materials that we use contain them. It turns out though, that the skins are the big culprits. After a study, Huffington Post revealed that “the results of our study indicate that a wide variety of microorganisms may survive on the flesh and the rind of a sliced lemon”. Although lemons will definitely add a great freshness to any beverage, the next time you’re at a restaurant, do yourself a favor and think twice before putting the whole wedge into your drink.
18 Restaurant Menus
So we’ve covered quite a number of items and places on this list that are expected to carry a lot of germs. This one may come as a surprise to many people and the worst part is that restaurant menus are often the dirtiest items in a restaurant. Fox News explains that “Menus are rarely, if ever, given a thorough cleaning, especially if they’re paper. Recently, Good Morning America sent a team to swab items on the tables of 12 restaurants, and they discovered that menus carried the most germs, averaging 185,000 bacteria.” If you have to head out to your favorite restaurant as you can’t control those cravings, we highly recommend having your trusted hand sanitizer with you.
17 Shopping Carts
Major grocery chains have in recent years introduced sanitary wipes for us to use on the carts. Wiping down your cart should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised to see how many people just pick up a cart and pass the wipes without even stopping for a sec. If you’re one of those people, perhaps the following will finally convince you to start wiping those carts down. Reader’s Digest highlights that “When University of Arizona researchers sampled bacterial content on 85 grocery store shopping carts, they found that cart surfaces had exponentially more bacteria than what they measured in over 100 public restrooms, which included toilet seats and flush handles”.
You may have recently found out about this unfortunate truth and if you haven’t, then postponing that getaway you were hoping to have just before the baby arrives may not be a bad idea. Why? Well, unfortunately, ladies – being in an airplane almost guarantees that you’ll pick up something. An article from Fox News explains that “a study which looked into how dirty airline travel can be, found that planes are absolutely teeming with bacteria, which can cause a whole lot of illnesses. Your luggage can come into contact with up to 80 million bacteria before you even set it down in your hotel room”.
15 Computer Keyboards
Oh yes, those computer keyboards are a big culprit in spreading viruses and bacteria. The unfortunate part about this one on the list is that most people don’t spend the time to regularly clean their work keyboards so you may be reinfecting yourself every day with all sorts of bacteria. There are quite a number of products on the market that can safely clean not just your keyboard but screen as well and many companies can provide their staff with them. If your boss hasn’t recently read this article and is trying to cut costs (the wrong way), these products are generally budget friendly so a little spending in this department will definitely help you to keep the germs situation on the low side.
Okay, so you may not have seen this one coming but when you think about it, we’re pretty sure you understand why ATMs are on our list of unsanitary places – pretty much everyone touches them and they do so with their bare hands. The buttons are the worst part of it all. Perhaps the most annoying aspect about this one is the fact that you just can’t get out of it. Don’t start panicking just yet. Your best option here is to have your lovely sanitizer on standby in your handbag for you to make use of after you use the ATM.
So this is an interesting addition to our list. The great bath vs shower debate has been in existence for years and whichever side you prefer, there are varied pros and cons. The most important thing is to always make sure that the bath is cleaned with a safe cleaning agent so that you don’t pass the previous user’s virus and bacteria to you. Besides hygiene, hot baths are generally not the best for expecting moms. The Telegraph discusses that “current health advice states that women who are expecting should avoid heat stress because it risks taking their core temperature beyond 102F”.
12 Water Fountains
If you’re picking up your little one from school and get a little thirsty, whatever you do – do not even think about turning to that water fountain to quench your thirst. Sure, it may look like there’s nothing more than just water but trust us when we say that these can be some of the most unsanitary places out there. The Little Things explains that “one study found that elementary school drinking-fountain handles were among the most contaminated places in the entire schools, sometimes even containing strains of norovirus and influenza A”. Having your own water bottle will be the safest option for you.
11 At The Gym
Nowadays, more and more pregnant women can be seen working out in the gym. If your doctor permits you, then we certainly encourage you to make your way to the gym and try to be as healthy and fit as possible during your pregnancy. Unfortunately, though, gyms can be one of the most unsanitary places out there. Think about it though – all the sweating and different people touching the buttons on the machines which you will also touch…If you’re not into taking walks around your neighborhood or getting some light weights to use at home, then always make sure that you use that lovely spray and paper towels that are provided at the gym before touching each equipment.
10 Public Swimming Pools
A public swimming pool is the last place you want to get into, especially when you’re with child. The germs and bacteria that are in the water are terrible and if you get disgusted easily, we suggest you don’t continue reading this part…Seriously, go to the next item on the list. Medical Daily reports that “According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to pool water – usually within the first 15 minutes of entering”. We’re pretty sure that we don’t have to say anything further to encourage you to stop having fun in those public pools.
9 Public Toilets - Soap Dispensers
We’re back to discussing public toilets and this time we have an unexpected culprit – the soap dispenser. Yeah, this is a painful one because we certainly want to encourage everyone to wash their hands after using the toilet and as a pregnant woman, you will definitely be making a few trips to the restrooms.
An article by All That’s Interesting reveals “microbiologists have found that in some public toilets’ soap, there’s so much fecal matter that you’re almost better off washing your hands in the toilet after your flush it”. This can happen by airborne bacteria getting into an open container or the soap dispenser being refilled by someone who has just cleaned the toilets.
8 Movie Theater
Oh boy, this is probably the hardest one to accept, especially for the movie lovers out there. Going to the movie theater is sometimes a much-welcomed escape since we live such busy lives but unfortunately, an innocent trip to the theater may leave you infected. Various studies have revealed that the movie theaters are filled with all sorts of germs. It is also not clear how often the seats are cleaned (and how properly).
Professor of Microbiology, Phillip M. Tierno, told Clean Link his recommendations. “You have to be aware that the armrest, the seat and other areas of the theater are contaminated with the public before you. One of the things, when I’m eating popcorn, is not to touch the seats with your right hand. If you’re going to hit the armrest, keep your hand in the air…always have a ‘good hand’ and a ‘bad hand.’”
7 Elevator Buttons
Just like with a number of the items on this list, elevator buttons are exposed to a whole lot of touching from people from all walks of life. This, in turn, results in quite a wide variety of bacteria living on them. The worst part of it all is that often times, things happen so quickly – you hop into an elevator and before you know it, the doors have closed and you’ve pressed your desired floor number. Shape highlights the surprising fact that “the first-floor button in any elevator is by far the worst because everyone has to touch it to get out of the building.” Ladies, if you regularly use elevators, make sure to regularly wash your hands as well.
6 Your Kitchen Sink
Alright, this is possibly the toughest one to digest on our entire list. Kitchen sinks are where we clean our food and dishes so seeing them pop up on our list is not a great feeling. An article by WebMD highlights that “food particles from plates left to soak or rinsed from dishes on their way to the dishwasher can serve as a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria…They can get on your hands or spread to foods.” To help you understand this better – consider how many times you disinfect your kitchen sink. Most people will just rinse it with water and that certainly is not enough.
5 Better Than You Think - Public Toilet Seat
Yes, you read right. Public Toilet Seats are not that bad ladies. Most of us have been taught “the squat” to try and prevent any parts of our skin from touching the toilet seat but this is actually the perfect way to dirty a toilet. Why? Well, doing the squat requires great thigh muscles and perfect precision which most of us don’t have. Let’s also not forget about that all-important factor that changes everything – your growing belly. Yeah, doing the squat with a big belly is one challenging task.
Luckily for you, you don’t have to stress that much about actually sitting on the seat. As long as the seat is not visibly dirty, Live Science explains that “The restroom isn’t that dangerous. The organisms which can grow there have a very low probability of being able to cause an infection”.
4 Better Than You Think - Doorknobs
You might think that we’ve made a mistake. There’s no way that doorknobs are “not that bad”. Most people go out their way to avoid touching these and it turns out that because most public spaces generally leave their doors opened, they carry fewer germs than you would think. Don’t get as wrong, doorknobs do certainly contain some germs from people who’ve touched it but as explained by Good Housekeeping, it’s not that bad. “Doorknobs aren’t touched as much as people think and they’re usually made of inhospitable metal. Bacteria and viruses are not going to live there very long”.
3 Better Than You Think - Trash cans
Wait, what? Trashcans are “better than you think’? No, this is not a mistake and yes, you read right. Trashcans are definitely filled with a whole lot of bacteria so we certainly encourage you to keep changing them as often as you can but the surprising thing here is that these little items are not the worst of your problems in your household. Listosaur explains that trashcans carry 411 bacteria per square inch. “Although a few hundred bacteria per square inch is a fairly notable number, the trashcan ranks lower on the germy list than places you frequently place your hands on.”
2 Better Than You Think - Coins
Money certainly “gets around”. We are constantly exchanging it for services or items we require and it is therefore expected to have quite a number of bacteria on it. Studies have shown though, that coins are better than bills. Believe it or not, although they are a little on the nosy side, they will give you much fewer germs than bills.
The Evolving Planet highlights an interesting fact as to why coins, just based on their material makeup, are better than bills. “While bills harbor bacteria, coins kill them. Without washing, coins reduce their bacteria load by 50% within three days. In silver coins, over 90% of the bacteria disappear in seven days”.
1 Better Than You Think - Dirt
Ah yes, number 1 on this list is a very welcomed surprise. Despite how it may look on your clothes, dirt is not that bad ladies. Care 2 explains that dirt actually helps you in one aspect – strengthening the immune system. “Playing in the dirt and being exposed to the millions of tiny microbes that thrive in it can actually boost the immune system.” Next time you catch your little one playing in the dirt, relax and let them have fun – maybe you can even join in.
And that’s the end of our list ladies. We’re sure there were a few surprises. While good hygiene should be practiced regularly, regardless of health, paying special attention to the above list of places and items when you’re pregnant will help not only you but that little bundle that growing inside you.
References: Medical Daily, Web MD, Fox News, The Little Things, Live Science, Medical Daily - Public Swimming Pools, The Telegraph, Clean Link, Good Housekeeping, Fox News - Restaurant Menus, Reader's Digest, Shape, Listosaur, The Evolving Planet, Web MD - Kitchen Sinks, Care 2