Family Health Guide

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Circumcision Questions

Here are some questions you should ask your pediatrician before deciding on circumcision:

Can you tell me more about the risks and benefits of circumcision?
Your pediatrician (or OB-GYN, or mohel) should take your concerns seriously and should be as versed in the data as you are. He or she should not play down your reservations about the procedure, or any qualms you have about not circumcising. A doctor’s attitude will tell you a lot about how comfortable you will be having him or her help you with this decision.

Are there some conditions that mean my baby can’t be circumcised?
A circumcision will have to wait, if it can be performed at all, if your baby is premature, underweight, jaundiced, or has hypospadias (when the urethra opening is not at the tip of the penis), buried penis, a bleeding disorder, or a skin disorder. In addition, all babies should be at least 24 hours old before the procedure. If you are planning a bris, which is held on the eighth day of life, talk with your rabbi or mohel about the exceptions made for ill or premature babies.

How much experience do you have performing circumcisions?
Experience is key, whether you are considering medical or ritual circumcision.

Can you explain the procedure to me in detail?
Your doctor should go over which procedure she will use (the risks are different with various devices and this will give you time to research each and see if you feel comfortable with his method.) If you are choosing ritual circumcision, make sure your mohel does not practice metzitzah, which carries a risk of infection.

What kind of pain control will you use for my baby?
If your doc or mohel says “It will be over so fast he won’t even notice,” don’t accept it. Surgery hurts and your baby needs an anesthetic, and not just Tylenol (which is appropriate to dull pain afterward.) Some docs will use a regional block, which requires an injection, while others prefer topical anesthetic. Mohels can also use prescription topical anesthetic provided by the parents’ pediatrician. There are also mohels with medical degrees who can write their own prescriptions.

What aftercare will my baby require?
We’ve covered that here, but your doctor should partner with you on this and give you detailed instructions, as well as advice on when to call the doctor or hospital.