Objective: To assess the use of intrapartum defibulation for women who have had female genital mutilation.
Design: A retrospective case analysis.
Setting: King Abdulaziz University Hospital, a teaching hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Sample: Two hundred and thirty-three Sudanese and 92 Somali women who were delivered at the hospital between January 1996 and December 1999.
Methods: The outcome of labour of women with female genital mutilation who needed intrapartum defibulation were compared with the outcome of labour of women without female genital mutilation who did not need intrapartum defibulation.
Results: One hundred and fifty-eight (48.6%) women had infibulation and needed intrapartum defibulation to deliver vaginally, 116 women (35.7%) did not have infibulation and gave birth vaginally without defibulation, and 51 (15.7%) women were delivered by caesarean section. There were no statistically significant differences, between women who underwent intrapartum defibulation and those who did not, in the duration of labour, rates of episiotomy and vaginal laceration, APGAR scores, blood loss and maternal stay in hospital. The surgical technique of intrapartum defibulation was easy and no intraoperative complications occurred.
Conclusions: Intrapartum defibulation is simple and safe, but sensitivity to the cultural issues involved is essential. In the longer term, continuing efforts should be directed towards abandoning female genital mutilation altogether.