Midwives are crucial in supporting and treating women who have undergone FGM, a leading expert on the subject told an RCM conference on 5 May.
At the conference in Edinburgh, hosted by the RCM to mark the International Day of Midwives, Nina Murray, women's policy development officer at the Scottish Refugee council explained how midwives were essential to combatting FGM. She said: ''Women may not seek out health professionals, but they will when they are pregnant. Those working in maternity services are key in identifying FGM.' She also stated that 50% of referrals for FGM in Scotland were by midwives.
Yana Richens, professional global adviser to the RCM and consultant midwife at University College London, said: 'That relationship is one where women will trust you and talk to you about it. FGM needs to become a commonplace discussion in antenatal clinics with all pregnant women being asked about the condition.'
The Scottish Refugee Council has created a model of intervention for FGM. It is based around 'five Ps'. These are: participation; policy, strategy and research; provision of services; protection; and prevention.
Ms Richens added: 'The more we ask, the more comfortable we feel with it. One of the barriers for midwives is a lack of awareness. Unless it's put onto the curriculum, the knowledge is not always there.'
The audience at the conference also heard how the RCM has helped to support midwives in other nations, with particular focus on their relief efforts in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Nepal.