The decision whether or not to circumcise your son is a very personal one. For some, religious or cultural considerations trump all others. For many people, though, the decision is not clear-cut. In order to make an informed decision about whether circumcision is right for your son, it is important to have all of the facts.
Boys are born with a foreskin over the head of their private parts. Circumcision surgically removes the foreskin. Circumcision is far more common in North America than in Europe, but the rate of circumcision is on the decline in the United States. Currently, a little over half of all newborn boys are circumcised.
If you choose to have your son circumcised, the surgery will likely be performed before he leaves the hospital. Although doctors may decline to do surgery on a premature baby boy, most boys have the surgery around 48 hours after birth. When done on a new baby, circumcision does not require general anesthesia. The doctor will apprise you of the risks of the surgery, and a nurse will show you how to care for your son afterwards.
So, what are the risks of circumcision? While major complications from this surgery are rare, it is possible that your son may experience some bleeding or oozing at the circumcision site. It is possible, although not likely, that he might develop an infection at the surgery site. Major complications may include damage to the opening at the urethra, scarring resulting in the need for further surgery, and an incorrect removal of the foreskin (either too little is removed or too much, resulting in the appearance of an amputation of the head of the private parts). These complications are rare, though. In fact, the chance of complications occurring range from .01% for serious complications to as high as 35% for bleeding and minor infection.
Are there advantages to circumcision? Although circumcision may inhibit the development of certain STDs, there are other, far more effective, methods for preventing these diseases. While studies have suggested that uncircumcised babies are ten times more likely to develop Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), that still adds up to only 1 uncircumcised baby in 100 developing a UTI. Since UTIs are relatively easily treated, circumcision strictly for the purpose of reducing the chance of your son developing a UTI is not warranted. In actuality, there is no medical reason for circumcising a baby unless he has a problem with the foreskinís ability to retract.
Why, then, would you consider circumcision at all? For many families, whether or not to circumcise depends largely on whether the babyís father and/or brothers are circumcised. For others, religious considerations are very important. For families with no strong feelings one way or the other, though, knowing that there is no medical reason for the procedure may help with a decision.
Giving birth to a baby boy is a wondrous thing, but for mothers who have no prior experience with baby boys, every new thing may seem overwhelming. Women are just not as familiar with baby boy bodies as they are with baby girl bodies! Circumcision should not be one of the things that causes you stress with your newborn boy. Think about what you want for your son before you go to the hospital to give birth to him, resulting in one less thing to worry about when you are enjoying getting to know your new baby boy.