To circumcise or not…that is the question

Congratulations! You’re having a baby boy! With having a new baby comes with what seems like a thousand important decisions you will have to make throughout your pregnancy and especially on “D” Day (Yes…Delivery Day). Vaccines…erythromycin ointment in the eyes, formula vs breast feeding, cloth or disposable diapers, soaps, lotions…the list goes on. For baby boys, you’ll have one more decision to make: whether or not you will have him circumcised.

This is 100% a personal decision and either decision is great for your family. As I was going through information researching for our little one, I realized how much information and misinformation is out there. Hence this article, that will hopefully help you and your partner come to the best educated decision possible for your little man.

6 Points to think about when considering circumcision

  1. Vitamin K & blood clotting of infants

If you weren’t aware, it is standard practice in hospital births for every newborn to receive a vitamin k injection within hours after birth. There are also risks involved in this shot. To read more, please refer to my previous article- Should My Newborn Get a Vitamin K Shot?

When considering circumcision, you are obviously cutting the body, therefor causing bleeding to naturally occur. It is very hard to find a pediatrician who will perform a circumcision without the child first having the vitamin K injection. Most do not consider oral vitamin K sufficient before performing this procedure, putting parents in a situation where they are forced to choose the vitamin k injection, even if they don’t feel comfortable with it.

2. When to do a circumcision

Most doctor’s have stopped doing this, thankfully, but for a while, many circumcisions were down within the first 24 hours after birth, which is the most dangerous time to perform this procedure. The reason being that the baby’s blood clotting factors are not properly activated yet so soon after birth, significantly increasing the risk of bleeding complications. There have also been studies done on the potential long term effects of trauma on a new born so soon after entering the world. If you choose to circumcise, the BEST time to do it is 8 days after delivery, as the Bible recommends. Not a religious person? Even though the Bible is the one who recommends the perfect timing for circumcision, science backs these directions. Each baby has their highest prothrombin (clotting factor) levels on the 8th day and then they decrease. It is perfectly set up for this day .

3. Risks & statistics of circumcision

To be honest, I had no idea the reality of the risks and statistics involved in modern day circumcision.

  • The CDC data, reported by the New York Times, showed that the incidence of circumcision declined from 56 percent in 2006 to 32.5 percent in 2009. Needless to say, it’s becoming much less popular these days. Circumcision used to be a decision parents made for their son to avoid them being teased when they got older. Fact is, just as many boys are uncircumcised these days as circumcised, and numbers are dropping of circumcised boys. As they grow up together, the discrimination factor won’t be there.
  • Up to 55% of circumcisions result in some sort of complication ranging from mild to serious.
  • Approximately 117 baby boys die in America each year due to circumcision. This breaks down to 1 of every 77 neonatal deaths. Read more here- http://www.circinfo.org/USA_deaths.html
  • For more facts, read more here- http://circumcisiondecisionmaker.com/circumcision-facts/

4. Today’s circumcision techniques VS. Bible days

Circumcision has been performed for centuries related to religious rituals. When reading the Bible, we read all about the circumcised vs the uncircumcised. If you are a Christian and trying to figure out where you stand on circumcision related to Christianity, it’s important to acknowledge that when Jesus came to the world and died for our sins (which one believes when claiming to be Christian), Jesus spoke many times about the important of the “circumcised heart”. He made a way for both Jew and Gentile to have a relationship with God and because of His ultimate sacrifice, it doesn’t matter anymore if one is circumcised physically or not. God looks at the heart.

Now that we have that part out of the way, it was interesting to me to find that circumcision in Bible days was actually much different than it is today. The Hebrew words used for the practice of circumcision are “namal” and “muwl”. In Hebrew, namal means ‘to clip’ – like one would clip the ends of our fingernails. Muwl means ‘to curtail, to blunt.’ Neither of these words mean “to cut” “to amputate” “to remove” “to cut off,” etc. There were very different words in Hebrew to represent ‘the cutting off’ or ‘the removal of.’

Back in the day, circumcision was ceremonial performed as”cutting of the blessing” – a very small slit made at the end of the penis to allow a few drops of blood to shed (or, actually, be sucked out by the mouth of the boy’s father or a Rabbi) as the blood sacrifice of the covenant. This small slit is of course very different from today in modern U.S. culture where we amputate the entire prepuce organ. For more resources and reading on this topic, visit http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/biblical-circumcision-information.html.

 

5. The 3 circumcision techniques

The three most common are the Gomco clamp, the Mogen clamp, and the Plastibell. Here is a great video of a pediatrician explaining these techniques and what to expect- https://youtu.be/IF0_QBm7Qo0

6. Pain factor

It used to be believed that infants didn’t feel any pain. Sounds kinda crazy to me, but they also used to use leeches to suck out illness…I digress. Infants definitely do feel pain, and the procedure of circumcision is a painful one. Recent studies have proved that infants feel pain as early as the second-trimester of pregnancy. As adults, when we choose to do something we know is going to cause pain, we can prepare for it and get over it. When infants experience pain, it is a new sensation for them, and one some argue that can be brain altering. Physiologic studies indicate significant and long-lasting physiological consequences may follow painful insults in the very young, including changes in the central nervous system and changes in responsiveness of the neuroendocrine and immune systems to stress at maturity. Read more on this study here- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595204/


Oh my goodness gracious, what is a parent to do??? It’s a lot of information I know… I know many people who were circumcised with no apparent complications, and I know people who did have complications. Ultimately, this comes down to each parent’s individual decision. I hope this resource helps you and your partner make the best educated decision for your baby boy. Now you can be confident that you did your homework and made the best possible decision you could. I would recommend watching a video of an actual infant circumcision before you watch your son’s be performed just to be prepared as it can be scary for parent’s to watch. 🙂

Happy Baby Growing!!!

 

 

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