Now, as more officials and places of business are mandating face masks, and as more people are fighting back against wearing them, moms are speaking out. If we can wear face masks during childbirth, they argue, it should not be an issue for people to wear one to the grocery store or to a restaurant.
"If I can wear a mask through 38 hours of labor, a C-section and recovery . . . you can do it for an hour while running to the grocery store and/or other errands," Jai Kershner, a radio host on Beaver 100.3 and Q108 in Clarksville, Tennessee, wrote on Twitter last week.
Kershner, who has asthma, delivered her first child, a son named Mak, on June 18. She said both she and her husband wore face masks from the time they entered the hospital to the time they were discharged, a total of about five days.
"I got home [from the hospital] and I just kept seeing people complaining about it like, 'If you are not comfortable being around people who don’t wear masks, then don’t go out,'" she said. "It’s just like you don’t wear a mask for yourself, you wear a mask to protect each other. Right now in society we need to be loving on each other in every way, shape and form possible."
"A mask is an inconvenience. It is not the end of the world," Kershner added. "People who complain about going to the grocery store, you can wear a mask for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s fine. It’s not a big deal."
Julia Kite-Laidlaw had a similar reaction to the anti-masks protests she saw after giving birth to twins Daphne and Francis in New York City in May.
She said she wore a face mask during an emergency C-section on May 12. She also wore a hospital-issued mask during the next four days she spent in the hospital and also the following two weeks she spent visiting her newborns in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).
"If I can go through all of this with my kids, the birth and the two weeks in neo-natal intensive care unit and not be horribly inconvenienced by just putting a piece of fabric over my face, surely other people can do it to pop out to the supermarket for an hour," Kite-Laidlaw said. "There’s so much we don’t know about coronavirus, if you could save a life by just putting a mask on, why wouldn’t you?"
Kite-Laidlaw added that she did not even think of her mask while giving birth, instead focusing on the health of her children. She said she was also willing to do whatever it took to help protect health care workers and fellow patients, including getting a COVID-19 test while suffering contractions and waiting to see her newborns for nine hours until the test results for both her and her husband came back negative.
"I just thought the doctors and nurses here have been through hell. I’ll do anything they want me to," she said. "No one is making these requirements because they want people to be uncomfortable. They’re doing it because we’re in the middle of a pandemic nobody here has been through before."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people in the U.S. "wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," according to its website.
In the U.S., 18 states require masks in public, while 32 have no such mandate.
New research shows that wearing a mask may not only help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but may protect the health of the mask wearer as well.
Like Kite-Laidlaw and Kershner, other women who have given birth during the pandemic have also taken to Twitter to encourage people to wear masks, as they did during childbirth.
"It’s kind of like arguing about putting on a seat belt in a car. It’s the smallest thing that could have such a massive life or death impact," Kite-Laidlaw said about the debate over masks. "If I could do it in the most stressful time of my life, then a completely healthy person doing everyday tasks can do it too."