As a parent of a baby boy, one of the things you have to decide is whether or not your son gets circumcised.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes foreskin from the penis. Foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the tip of your son’s penis. Circumcision is not considered essential to a boy’s health. Circumcision is a personal choice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that circumcision has possible medical benefits as well as risks. AAP says there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend circumcision for all boys. AAP encourages parents to make their decision after talking about the procedure with their health care provider. In the U.S., roughly 55%-65% of all newborn boys are circumcised.
If you decide to have your son circumcised, the procedure usually is done in the first 48 hours after birth, before you leave the hospital. Some boys are circumcised in the first few days of life at home as part of religious or cultural traditions.
Premature babies (born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) and babies born with health problems should not be circumcised until their health is stable.
How do you care for your baby’s penis if he’s not circumcised? Wash your baby’s penis with soap and water. Don’t try to retract (pull back) the foreskin. A young baby’s foreskin may not retract completely. Over time it retracts on its own.
How do you care for your baby’s penis after a circumcision? Until your baby’s penis heals:
• During bath time, wash the penis and diaper area with soap and warm water.
• For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
• Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.
It’s best to start thinking about circumcision before your baby is born. Put your decision in your birth plan and share your plan with your provider.
UPDATE: August 27, 2012 The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement regarding circumcision today. “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.”