Female Cutting makes Childbirth more Dangerous

Imagine you are a child. A person you respect and love tells you that something is going to happen to you. Someone is going to sew your mouth shut. You are told you do not need your mouth for the next five years. When you need your mouth it will be opened for you. You do not understand. You know that you can keep your mouth shut without someone sewing it shut. You think this operation is not needed – it is ‘unnecessary.’
Your mouth will have changed when it is cut open years later. The pain will be the worst pain you have ever felt. You will not be able to speak like you used to be able to. Your lips will look and feel different. They will be scarred. It will be painful and impossible to use your lips for the reasons you have them. Things like talking, eating and showing how you feel with your lips will be very hard for you. You will not want to do these things because of how much your lips hurt.
Now imagine someone tells you that there is something they want you to do. They want you to talk to your community. Your duty will be to give your friends and family new information-‘the news.’ You will stand in front of them and give them the news – you will make a ‘speech.’
What do you try to say when you make your first speech? You want to say…
‘My mouth worked before! When my mouth was left the way it was when I was born it worked perfectly. I used to be able to use my mouth to do what you ask. Now my mouth does not work. I cannot do the job you want me to do!’
Everyone is disappointed in you. They are angry that you are not doing the job they want you to do. They think this is your fault. The way people look at you changes. They no longer respect you because you cannot do your job. You want to tell them this is not fair. You want to tell them they created this problem and it was their fault. You want to tell them lots of things. You try to say these things but you cannot. Your lips do not work anymore.
When a woman’s body is changed through FGC (Female Genital Cutting) she is less able to do the things she was born able to do. A woman is often praised for her ability to have healthy boy and girl children. Sometimes cutting means she cannot do this. Cutting her can end her life and can end the life of her baby. Making a girl have FGC when she is a child increases the risk that any child she has when she is older will die.
When a woman is pregnant with a child her body adapts or changes to make giving birth possible. Her body releases natural chemicals called hormones. Hormones do lots of different things. One type of hormone loosens the woman’s joints around her pelvis to make it easier for her to deliver the baby. If this did not happen the birth would be even more painful! Her birth canal widens to make more space for the baby to be born. Without this it would be impossible for the baby to leave its mother’s body naturally!
Giving birth to a child is a very difficult experience. The female body has natural ways of changing to make childbirth possible. FGC does not help the female body to give birth. A woman who has had FGC will have an even harder childbirth. When a woman who has had FGC gives birth she will have more problems than a woman who has not had FGC. It is likely that because of the FGC childbirth will be more painful, difficult and life-threatening for her.
This is because FGC changes the natural female body. Some types of FGC involve sewing the woman’s opening more tightly. ­­If the woman’s opening has been sewn too tightly it will need to be opened before she tries to give birth. This is incredibly painful for the woman. Childbirth cannot happen naturally if the woman needs to be treated first to overcome the effects of FGC. If the woman cannot get to a hospital or to someone who is trained to help her she and her baby are at risk of blood loss, infection and trauma. These things can kill the woman.
If a woman has had FGC it is more likely that her childbirth will be longer than the childbirth of a woman who has not had FGC. A longer childbirth can put the life of the baby in danger. A woman who has had FGC is more likely to lose her baby during childbirth. Her baby is also more likely to die after it has been born. This is because the baby may struggle to get air as soon as a baby whose mother has not had FGC. A baby born to a mother with FGC is 15-55% more likely to be born dead or to die soon after birth.
Studies have shown that if a mother has had FGC their baby is more likely to be unable to breathe and to need resuscitation. Resuscitation is a technique to help someone breathe who is not breathing. A baby who cannot breathe will need resuscitation or will die. The death rate for babies born to women who have had a very severe type of FGC is 52% higher than the babies of women who have not had FGC. FGC risks the lives of baby boys and girl children.
Giving birth to a baby is hard. Even without FGC child birth can be life threatening. You would not cut open the person’s sewn up mouth and expect them to speak properly. Giving a woman FGC and asking her to give birth is the same. She is not as able to give birth as she was before. She might die. Her baby might die. A woman’s body has tricks and tools to help make childbirth more possible. FGC takes these tools away.
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