The birth of a baby is a time for excitement and joy. Yet, it can also jammed packed with anxiety and stress. If it’s your first child, it can be quite daunting to think you will be in charge of this little creature from here on out. (This was especially terrifying for me as I can’t even keep a houseplant alive for more than a few days.) Additionally, there seem to be an endless amount of tasks to complete and decisions to make, both before and after the birth. One of the more important ones you will have to consider, if you’re having a boy, is whether or not you should circumcise.
Now, this is a heated topic of debate out there and our path is not necessarily going to be the best decision for your family. However, it was right for our family. I am simply sharing our reasoning on the matter along with the information we considered when making our choice. After full consideration of both options (and hours of discussion and debate) Lino and I both decided it would be best not to circumcise our son. Here’s why:
Medical professionals no longer recommend circumcision for all newborns
In the past, doctors recommended circumcision to reduce the risks of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and penile cancer. Risk for these issues are thought to increase due to the buildup of shed skin cells, oils in the skin, and other secretions. It is easier to keep the penis clean when the extra skin is removed.
Though young boys can be taught to wash under the excess skin, that’s sometimes easier said than done. For some parents, just getting your kid to use soap is a win. For us, however, we would rather deal with this battle than managing the outcome of other potentially dangerous risks. (The risks for these issues is relatively rare to begin with.)
Circumcision also helps prevent phimosis, which is the inability to retract the foreskin over the head of the penis. This could then lead to an inflammation and difficulty with urination. However, phimosis is relatively rare and doctors can use other procedures to treat this issue. So, this also was not a strong enough reason for us to alter him.
All in all, while the American Academy of Pediatrics still state the benefits outweigh the risks, they now indicate parents should be responsible for making an informed decision on the matter. Our pediatrician indicated I would be covered by my insurance if I elected to have it done. However, she cautioned it was now considered a cosmetic procedure and may not be covered much longer. As I tend to rely heavily on science and logic when I make decisions, this information was influential in our ultimate choice. If there is no statistics to indicate need, then why would I do it?
We are not religious
Another reason people often choose to circumcise has to do with religious practice and belief. I’m not here to get into a religious debate with anyone. So, I will suffice to say neither Lino or I identify with a religion and found this reasoning to hold absolutely no weight in our considerations on the matter.
It’s a painful procedure
I know doctors are trained to administer proper anesthetics, but I also know it sucks to heal from an injury. At the time, I did not have any previous experience with healing wounds to your girl bits. However, I can tell you that my experience with healing after his birth was only further confirmation I made the correct choice. It is NO fun having stitches on your no no’s. I sure didn’t want my son to go through this at any point in his life much less in the first few days.
I also watched videos of the procedure (thanks youtube) and found them all horrifying, even though none of them were unprofessional or inappropriate. I’m just too empathetic, I suppose.
It can go wrong and when it does, it’s very, very wrong
With any operation, there are potential risks. Let me tell you about a google search you don’t want to do: botched circumcisions. We are talking life-long damages. Enough said.
It is meant to be there
This is just a straight rational and logical thought that kept coming up over and over again in our discussions. Neither of us could come up with an argument against this. If boys were meant to have foreskin, we should leave it alone. It hasn’t seemed to hurt our species at all; the population is larger than ever. If it was too detrimental to our species then natural selection would have solved this issue ages ago.
I don’t play the “everyone’s doing it” game
Peer ridicule is another frequent point cited in this argument, as the majority of the U.S. population is circumcised. I think this is a ridiculous argument. Peers are going to tease and bully one another. It is a part of human nature and has been occurring forever. If it isn’t his penis, they will find something else to ridicule. Circumcising my son would not prevent him from being subject to this behavior. It is my responsibility as a parent to teach him how to navigate this area of his life successfully.
Additionally, circumcision is becoming less and less popular each year. I have a sneaky suspicion that my son’s peers will be more mixed than people like to claim. Of course, I do not claim to be an expert on this and could very well be wrong in my assumptions. I suppose only time will tell.
At the end of the day, the choice to circumcise your boy is yours. (At least it is until the laws change someday.) Only you know what is best for your family. It is definitely a difficult decision for new parents. Depending on how supportive your friends and family are, it can even put a damper on all the festivities associated with a new baby.
For us, it was clear that circumcision was not a good fit for our family. There were just too many potential risks that outweighed the potential benefits. We thought a lot about how he might feel about the choice we made for him. I just couldn’t risk it knowing that something could go wrong. I saw no reason to circumcise if it wasn’t vitally necessary. As a parent, I would have had enormous amounts of guilt, especially seeing as how we easily disbanded any argument for it.