Facilitating Birth for Women Who Have Experienced Genital Cutting


Najla Barnawi, BSN, RN, MN, Beverley O’Brien, RM, RN, PhD, Solina Richter, RN, Dcur, and Zubia Mumtaz, MBBS, MPH, PhD


Female genital cutting (FGC) is a traditional practice in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Due to increasing migration from these areas to Canada and elsewhere, the care of women who have undergone FGC has become both a national and a global concern. It is widely regarded as a public health and human rights issue affecting at least 140 million women worldwide. In Canada, pregnant women who experienced FGC may face more physical and emotional challenges than their nonpregnant counterparts. Their need to access optimal perinatal care is critical, as FGC, particularly that with more extensive cutting (infibulation), is widely considered to be an indirect cause of maternal/newborn morbidity. The purposes of this article are (1) to provide a deeper insight into challenges confronting affected women seeking maternity care in Canada and their providers and (2) to recommend the appropriateness of the Canadian midwifery model in providing optimal care for women who have experienced FGC. The goal is to support Canadian health care providers in gaining a greater understanding of the historical, cultural, and physical realities of FGC so that they are able to provide maternity care that meets Canadian standards while being sensitive to cultural values and beliefs.


female genital cutting, mutilation, pregnancy care, perinatal care, midwifery


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