A Meta-Synthesis of the Birth Experiences of African Immigrant Women Affected by Female Genital Cutting

Asma Hamid, Karen Trister Grace, Nicole Warren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this qualitative meta-synthesis was to understand the labor and birth experiences of immigrant women in countries of resettlement who have a history of female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female genital mutilation or female circumcision. Methods: We used a meta-ethnography approach to synthesize the literature on this topic. We searched PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Sociological Abstracts databases from inception to May 2016 using the search terms female genital cutting, female circumcision, clitorectomy, clitoridectomy, pharaonic circumcision, genital circumcision, female genital mutilation, infibulation, and deinfibulation. Our inclusion criteria were 1) peer-reviewed, original qualitative research; 2) focused on populations affected by FGC or their health care providers; 3) conducted in a country where FGC is not documented as an indigenous practice; 4) English language; and 5) included a description of postmigratory labor and birth experiences of women affected by FGC. Fourteen articles were included. Results: Two new syntheses emerged from our sample of studies including African immigrant women primarily resettled in Europe and the United States. First, birth after FGC in the context of resettlement included pain and anxiety, and has the potential to retraumatize. Second, while women experienced nostalgia for familiar traditions and perceived disrespect in their new setting, they questioned traditions, including the role of FGC, in their and their daughters’ lives. Discussion: The negative birth experiences of women affected by FGC highlight the need to improve care for this population. Health care professionals can serve as a source of support for women affected by FGC by acknowledging and addressing FGC in their care and actively listening to their perspectives and concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • global health/international
  • health disparities
  • intrapartum care
  • qualitative research
  • systematic reviews and meta-analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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