Background: Women with previous female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as circumcision) are migrating, with increasing frequency, to countries where this practice is uncommon. Many health care professionals in these countries lack experience in assisting women with female genital mutilation during pregnancy and birth, and they are usually untrained in this aspect of care. Somali women who customarily practice the most extensive form of female mutilation, who were resident in Ontario and had recently given birth to a baby in Canada, were surveyed to explore their perceptions of perinatal care and their earlier genital mutilation experiences.
Method: Interviews of 432 Somali women with previous female genital mutilation, who had given birth to a baby in Canada in the past five years, were conducted at their homes by a Somali woman interviewer.
Results: Findings suggested that women's needs are not always adequately met during their pregnancy and birth care. Women reported unhappiness with both clinical practice and quality of care.
Conclusions: Changes in clinical obstetric practice are necessary to incorporate women's perceptions and needs, to use fewer interventions, and to demonstrate greater sensitivity for cross-cultural practices and more respectful treatment than is currently available in the present system of care.