The “C” Word

Not the word you might be thinking. We’re talking about circumcision. The thought of circumcision never even crossed my mind when we were trying to get pregnant or even after we did get pregnant. Once we found out our little baby was for sure a boy, this became the number one question/thought/concern. Do we circumcise or don’t we?

We asked a lot of people and while this is our decision, it really was interesting to hear how strongly others felt about circumcision. To be honest- the majority of people who said we “must” circumcise are older people; the people who seemed most indifferent were people our age.

Circumcision use to be a commonality in the US (we won’t look at world trends at all here). In fact, many older moms have told me that when they had their son, he was brought back to them circumcised without their knowledge that there was even an option. That is how common it was. I have never seen an uncircumcised penis in real life or in movies and I am almost 29!

Today things are a bit different. Most insurance plans won’t cover circumcision because the benefits and risks balance each other out. People will still say “it is safer and healthier” but that isn’t true, because if it was- insurance would cover it. The benefits and costs literally equalize each other. You can search the web to find all of the biased information your heart desires but all it really boils down to is this: it is a personal decision.

So, what do we do? The first thing I did was ask our Midwives about it. I learned that the trend in circumcising is dramatically decreasing in the Western US and their suggestion was to watch videos of how a circumcision is performed to full understand what the procedure entails. I thought that was great advice since I didn’t even  know what a circumcision entailed. Actually, NPR just released a story last week about circumcision rates falling in the US. Read it here.

Well, I watched two videos with two different techniques and I sat here bawling. I mean, really really bawling. I couldn’t imagine doing that to my little boy. Most people say “well, now they administer anesthetic to the base of the penis whereas they never did that before”. Well, I don’t care about anesthetic because they still feel the needle that administers the anesthetic and then there is a such thing as recovery, which we honestly have no idea whether they can feel or not. But I don’t want to know. I don’t want to worry about my little boy’s penis sticking to his diaper and causing him pain that I feel can be avoided.

So, I brought this information to Manfriend who decided he didn’t want to see the procedure at all. This made me mad because I felt like he should see what it is before we made a decision but I didn’t push the issue. I ultimately left the decision to Manfriend and our plan was that we would circumcise. The condition would be that my mom and sister would watch the whole procedure because there is no way I could be in the room and I needed the comfort of knowing someone watched what was happening to our little boy.

Now cut to 4 weeks later in our childbirth class. Manfriend had no choice but to see what circumcision was because the instructor showed pictures of how the procedure is done. Let me tell you, pictures are NOTHING compared to video. That being said, the pictures freaked Manfriend out. He sat there with a horrified look on his face (as did all of the other dads). So, those five minutes then took us back to square one: we don’t know what we want to do.

My heart says “no”. My reasons? I don’t want my baby who, in utero had never been hungry, never been hot or cold, never been exposed to bright lights and had never felt pain to suddenly have to be strapped down and have part of him cut off. I will admit that a circumcised penis is more aesthetically pleasing but why would I put my son through something to make me feel better?

Contrary to what many people think: uncircumcised penises are not more difficult to clean than circumcised penises. You teach your children how to properly wipe their butts and to cleanse themselves in the shower, right? Well, all you have to do is teach a little boy how to cleanse his penis…which we should be doing anyway!

So, where are we now? As it stands, we are leaning more towards leaving his little penis alone. The best thing to do is educate yourself about things you don’t know because up until I was 18 weeks pregnant- I was in the dark about circumcision.

Note: I chose not to post pictures/videos because if you are interested, you can find them on your own pretty easily.

2 thoughts on “The “C” Word

  1. You might be interested in the following:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    “Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”
    “Circumcision is a ‘non-therapeutic’ procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
    “After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.”

    Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    “After extensive review of the literature, the Paediatrics & Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has concluded that there is no medical reason for routine newborn male circumcision.”
    (almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association
    “to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”

    The Royal Dutch Medical Association
    “The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.”

    drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 48% to 17%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (about 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

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