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Mask wearing was never the norm before the global pandemic hit in 2020, in fact, it didn’t become mainstream for some months despite rising cases, illnesses and deaths. However, it soon became clear that wearing a mask was necessary and in more and more cases – mandatory.
But what does this mean for pregnant women? Is it more advised for them to wear masks or are they exempt from having to wear a face covering? We take a look at what the medical consensus is and what’s the best practice for you as a pregnant mother.
Should you wear a mask when pregnant?
Before we tackle the issue of whether you have to or not, it’s best to ask whether you should. The answer to that is yes, you should. Masks are useful to stop the spread of airborne viruses and germs coming from your mouth and nose – they are there more for the protection of others than yourself. You can catch the coronavirus when pregnant which means you can spread it as well. Wearing a mask will reduce the risk of that along with social distancing and general hygiene.
Do you have to wear a mask if you’re pregnant?
Pregnancy does not make a person exempt from wearing a mask, you will need to wear a mask in the same manner as everyone else that isn’t exempt. Pregnancies are not affected by face coverings but you do not have to wear a face mask during labour. However, you may be exempt from wearing a face mask for other reasons whilst you are pregnant, such as if you:
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others ‒ including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
- police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
During your pregnancy, you are likely to be in situations where face coverings are more important, such as hospital visits, ultrasound scans, face to face meetings with midwives and so on. Masks even make hay fever a little more bearable.
We feel when it comes to pregnancy and wearing a mask then you should do what you want others to do to you. You’re pregnant, you’re carrying an unborn child and you need to stay as healthy as possible – other people wearing masks and practising social distancing can help with that so if you become an anti-masker then it can appear selfish that you are not protecting others when others are trying to protect you.
If wearing a mask makes you uncomfortable then consider avoiding places where it is mandatory and make other arrangements for your shopping.
Lastly, if you are pregnant but are medically exempt then you don’t need to wear one but if you can, you should.