Women were forced to wear face masks during childbirth, causing vomiting, panic attacks and breathing difficulties, despite official health guidance saying they shouldn’t be made to do so.
The UK charity Pregnant Then Screwed carried out the research by asking 936 women who gave birth during December about their experiences.
160 of them, around one in five, who went into labour were forced to wear a face covering.
A 39-year-old woman called Rosie told BBC News that she felt like she was dying because she was in so much pain, yet health workers continued to insist she wear a mask.
“I was feeling claustrophobic and the mask was making me feel really nauseous and making me panic as well. I’m pushing my baby out, I have this mask on my face, and the feeling of claustrophobia is just massive,” she said.
“I was frightened that amongst everything else that was happening I was then going to be sick inside the mask,” said Rosie, adding that at one point she took off the mask but was immediately ordered to put it back on.
Natalie Titherington, another woman forced to wear a mask during childbirth, said she was made to do so despite being 8cm dilated and experiencing severely painful contractions.
“I was gasping for air. I felt completely suffocated. I’m never going to be able to forget the feeling of not being able to breathe, and the fear and panic I felt while wearing a mask,” she said.
Titherington then had to have an emergency caesarean and was yet again told to wear a mask throughout the procedure.
“Women that we’ve spoken to have had asthma, they’ve felt dizzy, one woman even threw up in her mask during labour. This is completely avoidable. The guidance needs to be made clear and communicated to all pregnant women that they do not need to wear masks in labour,” said Joeli Brearley, CEO and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed.
Meanwhile, people also continue to wear face masks during vigorous exercise despite being warned that this could also lead to breathing difficulties.
The cult of the face covering will not die easily.