Maternity care of women affected by female genital mutilation/cutting: An audit of two Australian hospitals

Women Birth. 2020 Jul;33(4):e326-e331. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2019.07.008. Epub 2019 Aug 14.


Background: Pregnant women affected by female genital mutilation/cutting are at risk of adverse maternal outcomes compared to unaffected women, and sometimes require procedures to facilitate giving birth that midwives and doctors do not routinely perform. These women require culturally sensitive care. Current health professional literature provides evidence that midwives and doctors need further knowledge and training in this area.

Aims: This audit aimed to describe the demographic characteristics of pregnant women with female genital mutilation/cutting giving birth at two Perth maternity units, in addition to assessing health provider compliance with the local female genital mutilation/cutting Clinical Guideline.

Materials and methods: The clinical database used by public maternity units in Western Australia was used to identify affected women who gave birth during 2014 at King Edward Memorial Hospital or Osborne Park Hospital. Demographic characteristics and information about antenatal care and maternal outcomes were collected.

Results: 53 women fulfilled the audit criteria. Prevalence of pregnant women with female genital mutilation/cutting varied from 0.33% to 2.18% between the two units. Compliance with the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Clinical Guideline was generally suboptimal. While no woman was deinfibulated antenatally, 26% of women required intrapartum deinfibulation to give birth.

Conclusions: Women with female genital mutilation/cutting make up more than 2% of the antenatal population in some Perth metropolitan maternity units. Health care provider knowledge of, and compliance with, the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Clinical Guideline was poor in the two units studied. It appears that healthcare professionals need more education and training to provide affected women with the best care.

Keywords: Female circumcision; Female genitalia; Infibulation; Pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Circumcision, Female / adverse effects*
  • Circumcision, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Culturally Competent Care*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Audit
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Professional Competence
  • Retrospective Studies