Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice defined as the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-therapeutic reasons. Changing patterns of migration in Australia and other high-income countries has meant that maternity care providers and health systems are caring for more pregnant women affected by this practice. The aim of the study was to identify strategies to inform culturally safe and quality woman-centred maternity care for women affected by FGM who have migrated to Australia. An Appreciative Inquiry approach was used to engage women with FGM. We conducted 23 semi-structured interviews and three focus group discussions. There were four themes identified: (1) appreciating the best in their experiences; (2) achieving their dreams; (3) planning together; and (4) acting, modifying, improving and sustaining. Women could articulate their health and cultural needs, but they were not engaged in all aspects of their maternity care or considered active partners. Partnering and involving women in the design and delivery of their maternity care would improve quality care. A conceptual model, underpinned by women’s cultural values and physical, emotional needs, is presented as a framework to guide maternity services.
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This research was supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program
(RTP). The authors are thankful for the support provided by the Faculty of Health, University of Technology
Sydney (UTS). We also thank women who generously shared their perspectives and ideas and this study would
not have been possible without them.