The experience of maternity care for migrant women living with female genital mutilation: A qualitative synthesis

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Background:Increasing numbers of childbearing women with a history of female genital mutilation (FGM) are accessing maternity services in high-income countries across the world. For many of these women, their first contact with the health services in their host country is when they are pregnant. While the clinical consequences of certain categories of FGM are well documented, how high-risk maternity services — designed to mitigate the obstetric consequences of FGM — impact upon women's experience of childbearing is less clear.Methods:Using a meta-synthesis approach, this paper synthesizes 12 qualitative research papers, conducted in 5 high-income countries, to explore how migrant women with a history of FGM experience maternity care in their host countries.Results:One over-arching theme and four discrete subthemes of migrant women's experience of the maternity services in their host country were identified: feelings of alienation; fatalism and divine providence, positive and negative feelings about maternity care, different understandings of the birthing process, and feelings about FGM.Conclusions:The findings illustrate that migrant women with a history of FGM frequently encounter negative attitudes when accessing the maternity services in their host countries. Women's experiences suggest a concerning absence of sensitive and empathetic care; a more woman-centered approach is recommended.

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