Preparing for Your Baby Boy: The Circumcision Decision

A very personal choice of what is best for your child

baby with father

Young Abigail Afumbom has been looking forward to having a new baby brother for many weeks. It won’t be long now.

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But when her parents learned she would have a brother, they faced an important decision. Should he be circumcised?

The family can’t wait to meet the new baby. Krista Afumbom’s mother-in-law, a retired midwife from Cameroon, arrived in town recently to join Krista, her husband, Ferdinand, and their toddler daughter in preparing to welcome the new baby — Kai Alexander.

An important decision

Part of preparing for Kai’s arrival involved settling the question of circumcision.

“The main issue parents have to think about if they know they will be having a baby boy is whether or not to have the baby circumcised,” says OB/GYN Rebecca Starck, MD, Department Chair, Regional Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cleveland Clinic.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis. Some parents choose to circumcise for religious or cultural reasons. Medical experts continue to debate the health benefits of circumcision versus the risks.

A very personal decision

Many people have strong opinions on the subject, but you have to decide what is right for your family. “It is a personal decision for the parent,” Dr. Starck says.

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Ms. Afumbom initially did not want to circumcise her son. After researching and discussing the topic with her husband, ultimately, she let Ferdinand make the decision.

Researching the subject

Once Krista and Ferdinand decided to circumcise their baby, Krista learned as much as she could about the procedure. She discussed options with her midwives at Lakewood Hospital, where she plans to deliver.

“For me, circumcision is not just a yes or no question,” she says.

She wanted to learn all she could. She asked about the doctors who perform circumcisions there and the types of procedures they do. In these discussions, she learned about techniques and healing times for babies following circumcision.

Doctors say learning what to expect is always a good idea. “I advise my patients to discuss with their pediatrician what kind of care is involved,” Dr. Starck says.

Making the decision

Keep these factors in mind when you make the decision about whether to circumcise your baby:

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  • Consider both the mother’s and father’s feelings about circumcision.
  • Consider your family’s religious and cultural beliefs and practices.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of the procedure.
  • Find out who will perform the procedure. In some places, an obstetrician will do it in the hospital. In other places, a pediatrician will do it. Some religious groups have the circumcision performed later as part of a special ceremony.
  • Learn how and when the procedure will be performed, along with how to care for the area after surgery.
  • Recognize that circumcision is a personal choice. Many people have strong opinions, but only you can decide what is right for your baby boy.

Now the decision is made and, at 38 weeks of pregnancy, Krista is eager to deliver her baby boy.

“We’ve been talking about him for a long time. We’ve been talking about him as a person, with his name, when he’s coming, what things will be like when he’s here,” the Lakewood mother says.

For Abigail, the big sister duties soon will begin.

To hear more of Krista’s story, please go to this post.

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