When you give birth to a baby boy, one of the crucial things you might ask is whether to have the baby circumcised. Circumcision is the process of removing the foreskin from the penis. Most baby boys are circumcised 2 to 3 days after delivery. Others get it after several years, while some are never circumcised at all. Circumcision is optional, but for most people who do it, it’s mostly a matter of cultural and religious belief.
As circumcision is a surgical procedure, you might feel that it can be painful for your newborn. It helps to know what happens during a baby circumcision so you can make an informed decision for your little one.
Who Performs the Circumcision?
Your child’s doctor can perform the circumcision. You may also consult with a pediatrician, pediatric surgeon, or a family doctor who is a neonatologist regarding the operation.
The doctor may deem circumcision inappropriate for your baby if he is born prematurely, has abnormalities on the penis or suffers from a specific medical condition. Your doctor may advise you to delay circumcision until the baby is fit for the procedure.
Technology Used in Baby Circumcision
There are three common methods of baby circumcision and each one of them uses different technologies to accomplish the procedure successfully.
The Gomco Clamp
The Gomco Clamp is a metal implement with a bell-shaped ending. To use the Gomco Clamp, the doctor pulls the foreskin from the penis’ head and is fitted over the bell-shaped feature of the device (the doctor may make an incision to accomplish this). The foreskin is tightened in place with a clamp, and then, using a scalpel, the doctor removes the foreskin. The clamp stays in place for five minutes to reduce blood flow before it is removed.
The Mogen Clamp
The Mogen Clamp is another popular tool used in neonatal circumcision. It was made in 1954 by Rabbi Harry Bronstein. To this day, the Mogen Clamp remains to be one of the most-used methods in baby circumcision.
The Mogen Clamp is a small hing-shaped metal device. The doctor performing the circumcision pulls the baby’s foreskin and locks it at the hinge of the clamp for 90 seconds. The foreskin is removed with a scalpel and then the clamp is removed.
In the Plastibell technique, a plastic bell-shaped device is outfitted on the foreskin of the baby’s penis, which may require an incision. The device is secured with a sterile string, and then the doctor trims off the foreskin. The plastic bell device remains on site for the next 10-12 days, or until it has fallen off by itself.
In the Jewish procedure, circumcision is often referred to as a holistic operation. The Jewish doctor also uses a clamp and scalpel to perform the circumcision, but it takes as little as 15-30 seconds to finish the procedure. This traditional Jewish method of circumcision does not require any plastic ring and stitches, allowing for faster healing.
The baby may be strapped in a special seat to keep him from moving during the operation, or the parents may opt to hold him. Typically, the baby is made to suckle on a sugar-coated pacifier to help ease the pain. Before the operation begins, the doctor applies topical anesthesia into the penis. Local anesthesia may follow if the doctor deems it necessary.
The doctor then performs the circumcision procedure. Depending on the type of procedure, it may take a few seconds to a few minutes. The doctor leaves the parents with full written instructions on how to care for the circumcised area, and the baby is ready to go home right after.
After Care for a Circumcised Baby
It is essential to know how to care for the baby’s circumcised penis to minimize the risks of infection and complications. To make sure that the baby’s penis heals properly, parents need to:
- Wash the penis with warm water regularly.
- Change nappies frequently to prevent urine and feces from causing infection.
- Use petroleum jelly to avoid the circumcised penis from sticking into the diaper.
Expect the baby to be fussy after the operation. Make sure to hold him properly, so you don’t press into his genitals and cause further discomfort. The circumcised penis can be raw and red for the first few days and then turn somewhat yellow on the following days. It often takes 7 to 10 days for the circumcised penis to heal properly.
There’s minimal risk in baby circumcision, however. Call your doctor if:
- You notice worsening redness or swelling
- The baby is unable to urinate in 12 hours
- The circumcised area is filled with pus
- The baby develops a fever
Baby circumcision is a personal decision, and it’s best to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Feel free to discuss the matter with your doctor and assess the procedure thoroughly to make sure it’s for the best interest of your son.