If you are having a baby boy you may have already spent some time thinking about whether or not you would circumcise him. In doing so, you might of already done some research regarding the procedure itself and the benefits and risks that it might produce. As an elective practice, circumcisions remain a matter of personal parental preference. Although the long term health benefits seem to outweigh the risks associated with the procedure, health officials still do not have enough data to recommend routine circumcisions.
Parents who usually decide to get their newborns circumcised do so for religious, hygienic, traditional or cultural reasons. In order for you to make the best decision possible, I recommend you consider the health benefits and risks. Below I have included the pros, the cons and an explanation of what to expect from the procedure itself! Enjoy!
Circumcision: The procedure
So what is a circumcision? Although most people already understand the procedure, let us review the process. Your newborn baby boy will usually have a circumcision right before being discharged home from the hospital, or at a circumcision clinic. A jewish baby, for example, will usually have the circumcision performed on the eighth day after the birth by a certified Rabbi. In hospital, the procedure will be done by a paediatrician. The paediatrician will remove the prepuce (foreskin) of the glans using a sterile clamp. The procedure does not last very long, taking only a couple of minutes.
Circumcisions can be painful which is why your newborn will have both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to help reduce the pain. A freezing agent will be applied and Tylenol (Tempra) might be given before and after the procedure. Your baby will also receive a sugar based oral solution to help soothe them. By using these different methods, rest assured that your baby will not be in any pain, only mild discomfort. Length of healing and recovery will vary, ranging from 5-14 days.
Circumcision: Care after procedure
The facility in which your baby will receive the circumcision will provide you with specific instructions regarding care after the procedure. Always make sure to follow their guidelines which will look something like this:
- You will be asked to clean the penis and the buttocks with water and a cloth during the length of the healing time (no commercial wipes).
- You will have to watch out for signs of bleeding. If you do notice bleeding you can apply light pressure. If the bleeding does not stop then you will have to notify the clinic/hospital where the procedure was done.
- You will have to make sure that your baby is peeing. Your baby should be urinating 4-6 times in a 24 hour period.
- You will most likely have to apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the glans with each diaper change.
- You will have to fanfold the diaper in order to prevent pressure on the circumcised area.
- You will also need to check for signs of infection such as redness, swelling or discharge. If you notice any of these please contact your healthcare provider.
- Normal healing: Glans will be dark red after the procedure, then will be covered in yellow exudate within 24 hours.
What does the evidence say about circumcisions?
So what do the health officials say about circumcisions? We know that it is not a routine practice in hospital settings, we also know that it is not necessarily recommended by medical practitioners. Circumcisions are also not covered by medicare, which means that if you do decide to have this procedure, you will need to pay out-of-pocket.
When examining the available literature and scientific evidence you’ll find that there are significant health benefits associated with circumcisions. As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), circumcisions have been proven to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Circumcisions have also been proven to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections in infants. Bacteria can collect under the foreskin and multiply, which increases the risk of infection in individuals who are not circumcised.
Risks associated with circumcisions seem to be minimal. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the most common side effects your baby might experience are bleeding and infections. Although it does appear that the benefits outweigh the risks, more data and more research needs to done in order for circumcisions to be routinely recommended and practiced.
The decision to circumcise your baby remains a personal one. The role of your primary health care provider, paediatrician or nurse is to provide you with the information that is available. As parents, it is your job to look carefully at the information and come to an informed decision. I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog! I would love to hear some reasons on why you would or wouldn’t choose to circumcise your baby! Comment below 🙂