BACKGROUND: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for nontherapeutic indications. Due to changing patterns of migration, clinicians in high-income countries are seeing more women from countries where the practice is prevalent. This review aims to understand the sociocultural and health needs of these women and identify opportunities to improve the quality of maternity care for women with FGM. METHODS: We undertook a systematic review and meta-synthesis of peer-reviewed primary qualitative research to explore the experience and needs of migrant women with FGM receiving maternity care. A structured search of nine databases was undertaken, screened papers appraised, and a thematic analysis undertaken on data extracted from the findings and discussion sections of included papers. RESULTS: Sixteen peer-reviewed studies were included in the systematic review. Four major themes were revealed: Living with fear, stigma, and anxiety; Feelings of vulnerability, distrust, and discrimination; Dealing with past and present ways of life after resettlement; and Seeking support and involvement in health care. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that future actions for improving maternity care quality should be focused on woman-centered practice, demonstrating cultural safety and developing mutual trust between a woman and her care providers. Meaningful consultation with women affected by FGM in high-income settings requires cultural sensitivity and acknowledgment of their specific circumstances. This can be achieved by engaging women affected by FGM in service design to provide quality care and ensure woman-focused policy is developed and implemented.
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