A neutral view so you can make the best choice for your family
We’re passionate about making sure every woman we serve has access to the information and resources she needs to make the best choices for her birth and her baby. At The Retreat Birth Center in El Paso, we often have families ask for information about infant circumcision.
Here’s a look at the basics of circumcision and the different ways people go about deciding what’s best for their babies.
A brief history of circumcision
The origins of infant circumcision are unclear, but we find circumcision in a variety of ancient and modern cultures for diverse reasons. In some societies (including Jewish and Muslim cultures), the practice of circumcision began in ancient times and is still common as a religious symbol and cause for community celebration.
In other parts of the world, such as some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, circumcision is part of a male’s journey into adulthood or warrior status. In Christian history, circumcision has primarily been viewed as an “un-Christian” practice, though it became popular among western Christians in the 1920s as part of a cultural pursuit of decreased sexual sensation and hygiene benefits.
Perspectives: Why some people circumcise
Though the reasons people choose infant circumcision vary, the most common ones we hear at The Retreat are:
- Religious or cultural identity
- To “match” the circumcised father or male siblings
- To make bathing and hygiene simpler
- To prevent possible future health issues like UTIs, and possibly reduce the risks of some STIs and rare cancers
Another persuasive factor is simply that circumcision is so very common! More than half of baby boys in the U.S. are circumcised. Sometimes people choose circumcision simply because it is so prevalent, and they perceive it as part of routine hospital care when you have a male baby.
Speaking of hospitals, as circumcision is a minor surgery and requires anesthetic, the midwives who practice at The Retreat don’t perform infant circumcision after our births, but we can point you toward doctors who can. Our patients who choose circumcision typically have the procedure done within the first two weeks after the baby is born.
Perspectives: Why some people don’t circumcise
On the other hand, almost half of the baby boys born in the U.S. are not circumcised. But given the potential health benefits, why do those parents forgo the procedure? Here are the most common reasons parents choose not to circumcise:
- Religious beliefs
- Viewing circumcision as unnecessarily distressing or painful
- Wanting the child to decide about circumcision for himself
- The conflicting views about the long-term impact on sexual sensation
- The health risks of not being circumcised are easy to avoid with proper hygiene
- The health benefits, though documented, are for problems most boys won’t face anyway
Some parents don’t feel that their baby boys need to “match” their father even if he is circumcised. Though the procedure is performed on the majority of boys, it’s a slim majority, so these parents often don’t feel their boy will be viewed as “different” in future locker room situations. Just a variation of awkward adolescent normal!
So as you can see, there are valid arguments from each perspective. And we support whatever you decide is right in your situation.
How circumcision works
As the word itself suggests (“circum” means “around” and “cise” means “cut”), modern infant circumcision in the US involves stretching and cutting around the the foreskin of the penis.
In a hospital or equipped doctor’s office, the baby’s arms and legs are first restrained. Then the doctor disinfects the penis and uses a topical or injectable anesthetic on it. Then a special ring is usually attached and the foreskin is cut off. The foreskin is then removed and the wound is covered in an antibiotic or protective cream. It will heal in a week or two.
Does insurance cover circumcision?
This will depend on your insurance. Some private insurance policies cover circumcision as part of routine newborn care in a hospital setting. Others will require a surgery copay. Texas Medicaid can cover newborn circumcision in the hospital.
If you’re having your baby at home or at The Retreat Birth Center, make sure you find out how your insurance will handle a circumcision done in-office after birth, as it may be considered an elective surgery since it’s not done in the hospital right after birth.
The Retreat Birth Center in El Paso supports your choices
You’ll never feel judged at The Retreat as you ask for resources to help you make informed decisions about your birth and newborn care options.
If you’d like to learn more about your choices, you’re in luck! We’re in the middle of a series of newborn care blog posts, including:
What Is Delayed Cord Clamping?
Why You Should Wait to Bathe Your Newborn
We also hope to see you at one of our fun, educational classes. You can check out our event calendar here. And we’d love to walk through The Retreat with you and hear your questions about birth and newborn care!
To schedule your free tour and consultation, please call (915) 308-5000 or click here.