5 Reasons Why I Chose To Not Circumcise My Sons

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.



Today I'm getting a little more personal about some of the parenting decisions I've made that have been important to me. Although my decision to not circumcise my sons isn't something I think about much on a daily basis, it was important when I was trying to figure out if I was going to do it or not.

When I was pregnant with Pig, the decision to circumcise or not didn't even cross my mind until my midwife asked me what we were planning to do. My response was something along the lines of "Uhh...I guess...well, no...I don't know, actually." My midwife recommended that I start researching that.

So I did. And surprisingly, it didn't take me very long to decide that I was going to leave them intact. Surprising, because the men in my family are circumcised, so this was new to me to even consider not circumcising. That was just one of those things that you do, or so I used to think. 

Some moms do it for religious or cultural reasons. Some moms believe the benefits outweigh the risks. All moms have their own opinion on it. You have to come to your own opinion about it. I came to the personal opinion that there would be no benefits to circumcising my sons.

These are my top 5 reasons:

1. Routine infant circumcision is not medically recommended - RIC is not medically necessary or recommended. After learning this simple fact, I was 95% sure I didn't want to circumcise. Now, a lot of people are confused because in August 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their stance on circumcision once again {like a flip flopping politician in my opinion}. Here is what they state on their website:

"After a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics found the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision. The AAP policy statement published Monday, August 27, says the final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs."

To me, this statement almost makes no sense because they say the benefits outweigh the risks, BUT the benefits aren't great enough to recommend it...??? I recommend researching several resources before making a decision based on this statement alone. That's just me. Even with this new, revised statement, their wording still left me with the belief that RIC is not necessary

2. The foreskin has a purpose - the foreskin of infants is attached to the head of the penis. It protects the head from urine, feces, and any other contaminants. The foreskin is self-cleansing and self-protecting, just like the vagina. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme. It seemed to me that if it has a purpose, it's meant to be there, like my finger nails!

Cleaning the diaper area of an intact baby is extremely easy - you just wipe what is seen. There is no pushing the foreskin back (in fact, never push the foreskin back), there is no worrying about poop getting into the penis; you simply wipe and you're done.

It also keeps the head protected throughout life, keeping the head of the penis smooth, moist, and sensitive. This provides greater sexual pleasure for males...which leads us to: the foreskin is full of nerve endings. It is an erogenous zone on the penis. I never knew this! After learning this, I decided I definitely didn't want to remove it. 

3. Circumcision can negatively affect breastfeeding La Leche League says that while circumcision is not directly related to breastfeeding, any elective surgery can affect breastfeeding in the early days. This can happen because a) the infant is taken away from the mother for the surgery to be performed, and b) because many infants are too drowsy to nurse after the surgery is completed. The hours and days after giving birth is a crucial bonding time for mother and baby and a time when the baby needs to be nursing almost constantly to bring in the mother's milk. Disrupting this period can result in issues with milk supply.

In their policy on breastfeeding, the AAP states, "Except under special circumstances, the newborn infant should remain with the mother throughout the recovery period. Procedures that may interfere with breastfeeding or traumatize the infant should be avoided or minimized."

An exerpt from Drmomma.org - Marshall et al., performed a study on how circumcision effects mother-infant interaction. This study also used the BNAS and was double blind (neither the researchers nor the mothers breastfeeding their babies knew when boys were circumcised). One group of babies were circumcised at two days and the other at three weeks. They found that infant behavior changes after circumcision in 90% of cases and that it has a "brief and transitory effect on mother-infant interactions observed during hospital feeding sessions." It was also found that mothers attempted to feed their infants 62% of the time, when their baby's eyes were closed (71%), had negative or neutral facial expressions (91%), did little vocalizing (8%), were clinging (13%), or not feeding (40%)."

Obviously, not every mother who circumcises her baby will experience this {fortunately}, but many will. It was just another draw back to circumcising, in my eyes, especially since I was so intent on breastfeeding.

4. Most of the world is intact - approximately 75% of the world's men are intact and remain so for their entire lives. In the U.S. more than 60% of baby boys are being left intact. This little factoid made me realize that being intact is the norm. Whereas I'd believed my whole life that every baby boy who is left intact would need circumcision later on because of infection, I learned that the majority of men in this world make it through life being intact just fine. 

5. Babies die every year from botched circumcisions a baby only needs to lose an ounce of blood to hemorrhage. An ounce! About 117 neonatal boys die every year from circumcision. To put this into perspective - 115 neonatal boys {neonatal = first 28 days after birth} die from SIDS every year. We are so worried about SIDS, but no one thinks to worry about the risk of death from circumcision. This is an exerpt from Dr. Momma.org:

In their statement on the increased dangers of neonatal circumcisionDoctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC) physicians and surgeons reported:

The prepuce is highly vascularized, so it is likely to hemorrhage when cut, and severing the frenular artery is very common. Infants have a miniscule amount of blood in their tiny bodies and can tolerate only about a 20 percent blood loss before hypovolemia, hypovolemic shock, and death. A 4000 gram male newborn has only 11.5oz (340 ml) of total blood volume at birth, 85 ml per kilogram of weight. Blood loss of only 2.3oz, (68 ml), 20% of total blood volume at birth is sufficient to cause hypovolemia. Many newborns, and especially premature infants, weigh much less and a smaller amount of blood loss would be sufficient to trigger hypovolemic shock in those infants. Circumcision of infants, therefore, carries the inherent danger of hypovolemic shock and death.

Since I already had doubts that I even wanted to circumcise, this last risk just set it in stone for me. It just wouldn't have been worth the risk for something I didn't believe to have any benefits in the first place.

It's definitely a personal decision. What I consider a risk, another mom doesn't and vice versa. That's why it's so important to do your research so that you can come to a decision that you believe is best.



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