5 Things to Know About Circumcision

Five Things to Know About Circumcision | The Chicago Doulas

Circumcision is a hot topic. Like many other parenting decisions, it involves careful consideration so that you can make what you believe to be the best decision on behalf of your baby.

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin, a portion of skin attached to the glans, or head, of the penis in a young boy.

Here's a few things you might like to know to help you make a decision about circumcision:

1. It's a personal choice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that potential health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine male circumcision. Families should be left to make the decision about circumcision based on cultural, religious, or ethical beliefs.

2. If you opt for it, circumcision is typically performed in the hospital about 24 hours after your baby is born.

If you wish to delay circumcision, are having a home birth, or are planning a circumcision with a mohel, it's safe to have circumcision done later too. Technically, a circumcision can be performed at any time, but the circumstances, procedure, and pain relief methods can vary depending on when and where it is performed.

3.  The percentage of babies being circumcised has decreased over the last 30 years.

30 years ago, about 2/3 of baby boys were circumcised. In 2010, the rate was about 58%. Circumcision rates are highest in the midwest and lowest in the west.

4. Potential pain can be controlled.

If you choose circumcision, a local injected anesthetic is the preferred method of pain relief. Other methods, such as sugar water or topical anesthetic ointment, have found to be less likely to be adequate pain relief. After the circumcision, your baby can receive Tylenol. In addition, nursing, sucking on a pacifier or bottle, and of course extra snuggles can help to soothe your baby's sore penis.

5. Your health care provider, nurses, and postpartum doula can offer you education about how to care for a circumcised versus uncircumcised penis.

Immediately after circumcision, you will need some guidance about how to assist healing and decrease pain in your circumcised baby boy.

An uncircumcised (sometimes referred to as "intact") penis does not require retraction of the foreskin. The penis can simply we washed on the outside similar to how care of a female's external genitalia would be.

It can be challenging to find unbiased resources about circumcision. The best one we've come across is The Circumcision Decision. Happy reading!

Maura Winkler is an RN, birth & postpartum doula, board-certified lactation consultant, and owner of The Chicago Doulas.