Reframing the Circumcision Decision
Circumcision is one of those topics many people wince at. It’s not the most comfortable topic of discussion. After all, why discuss foreskin when we could discuss car seats, strollers, decorating the nursery, and other lighter, less controversial topics?
While the rates of circumcision are declining, many adult American men are circumcised and many families follow suit when they learn they are expecting a baby boy. Oftentimes, you’ll hear expecting mothers explain why they do not take part in researching the circumcision decision: “My husband/partner is circumcised so our son will be. They should look alike.”; “I don’t have a penis so how my opinion doesn’t matter.”; “Boys are dirty and won’t keep it clean.”; “Foreskins are ugly.”; “He’ll get made fun of.” We’ve all heard more, but I’ll stop there.
Circumcision is a procedure in which the foreskin is surgically removed, exposing the head of the penis. The foreskin is a normal, healthy, and protective organ that all baby boys are born with. Because newborn boys are rarely born with foreskin concerns or issues, circumcision is a often done for cosmetic or preventative reasons. But this procedure does come with risks including hemorrhaging, removing portions of the penis not intended to be removed, foreskin re-growth that requires further interventions, and in rare cases, death. It’s also important to remember that this is a painful procedure. While there are no national medical organizations in the world that recommend routine infant circumcision, the American Academy of Pediatrics did revise their statement in 2012 to state that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks but the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine infant circumcision.
The circumcision decision is one that needs to be researched and understood by both parents prior to signing the consent to perform surgery. A mother’s input is just as valid as her male counterpart. Furthermore, this could certainly be seen as a decision that should be made by the child when he reaches an age where he can understand the procedure, risks, benefits, pain management, and be able to properly care for his penis during the healing stage if he chooses to have the surgery done.
When we become mothers, we need to become comfortable with things we may have once been uncomfortable with. When we step into a situation or scenario well informed it feeds our confidence to proceed in the best interest of our children.
It’s time to reframe the circumcision decision.
- American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/newborn-male-circumcision.aspx
- Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.org
Melissa Ballman is the mother of 3 living and working in the Minnesota River Valley. She has worked with, for, and on behalf of women for over 14 years in various capacities within the battered women’s movement and most recently as a birth, bereavement, and postpartum Doula. She is passionate about working with and learning from women and families of diverse lifestyles, backgrounds, and abilities. In her free time, Melissa enjoys traveling, sewing, gardening, yoga, live music, performance arts, being active with gentle parenting and Autism parenting communities, and spending time with friends and family, preferably while eating good food.