Mask-wearing during labor to prevent infection stirs debate
Japan Today -- Aug 23
The requirement by many hospitals in Japan that women wear face masks while in labor to prevent coronavirus transmission has stirred debate among new mothers online, with some saying it was distressing while others argue it is essential to reduce infection risks.

Health experts say mask-wearing during delivery poses no danger of oxygen deprivation to mother and child -- one of the concerns raised by critics. But some suggest medical facilities should take a more flexible approach by recognizing the additional stress imposed by the pandemic on parturient women.

In mid-July, an online conversation was sparked when a photo of a notice requiring women to wear face masks during childbirth was posted on Twitter. It is believed to have been taken by a woman during a hospital visit.

"Won't it lead to a lack of oxygen?" asked the woman. "Labor is already tough as it is," one person responded, while another countered by saying, "It is necessary to prevent infections at hospital."

A 26-year-old woman who shared online her experience of giving birth to a daughter in May at a Tokyo hospital while wearing a face mask told Kyodo News she thought the requirement could not be helped.

But she said it made it harder to breathe after her contractions started, adding that she was only told of the hospital's requirement after labor pains hit. "I wish they could have explained it to me earlier," she said.

According to a May survey conducted by the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to which 766 delivery facilities across Japan responded, 64 percent ask mothers to wear face masks during childbirth.

Mask-wearing by both medical service providers and mothers lowers the risk of the virus spreading, the society said, asking people to "cooperate as much as possible."

The University of Tokyo Hospital, which oversees around 1,000 deliveries a year, has required women in labor to wear a face mask since April.

News source: Japan Today
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