submitted by Sarah Milston
Editor’s Note: In response to our recent advertorial on Circumcision and in the interest of being fair and balanced, we’d like to present a view from a Real Richmond Parent on her view, and we welcome all responsibly-submitted (read: professional, no name-calling, etc) comments on this topic. We encourage all sides to educate parents as much as possible, as long as everyone plays nicely in our sandbox. Many thanks in advance.
When I was six weeks pregnant with our first child we went to the Byrd Theatre to see The Business of Being Born – thus began our parenting journey on the cusp of mainstream. One of the first things my grandmother told me as we began our life as emerging parents was that I would learn more about myself from becoming a parent than almost anything. Boy, was she right. Immediately at the start of your pregnancy you start making decisions about where to deliver, how to deliver and how to parent. Since we were keeping the sex of our future child a surprise, the question of whether or not we would circumcise came up pretty quickly.
As with a lot of parenting decisions, there are heated feelings on both sides of this issue. We started by looking at articles – no middle ground to be found. Either you were scarring your child for life or you were dooming them to a life of STDs and ridicule. I read articles that compared male circumcision to female genital mutilation. The only clear cut articles were the ones from a religious perspective, but we weren’t Jewish so they didn’t really apply.
After reading articles we talked to parents of boys. Same thing – heated feelings on both sides. Our next step was to discuss it with our midwife – she handed us a pile of medical articles. Finally, an answer! Although, not quite. So here are the facts:
- In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that there was not enough data to recommend the routine circumcision of baby boys. They reaffirmed their position in 2005.
- Circumcision is declining in most industrialized countries around the world including the United States, according to this NYTimes article.
- Although rare, newborns have and do have complications from circumcision including follow up surgeries, castrations and death
- The World Health Organization does recommend circumcision as a means of controlling the spread of AIDS – in impoverished nations with little to no access to clean water and safe sex preventions. Specifically they say, “Male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV and low male circumcision prevalence.”
- After talking to people, reading articles, and reviewing the medical side – my gut told me not to circumcise. But I was hesitant to defend my beliefs to family and friends and wanted a little something extra. A wise mother suggested I watch a youtube video of a circumcision. Let me warn you, any one you choose to watch will be intense. So I did and quickly became an adamant believer that I would never circumcise my child and that if someone ever asked my advice, I would send them to you tube.
Our first child was a girl, a sweet precocious big personality little girl. So we didn’t have to put this decision into practice, but as we are expecting our second child any day now he might just be a little boy and I stand by the decision we made 4 years ago. As with most of my parenting decisions I try to be open to other people’s journeys. So, if you are trying to make your decision – talk to people, read, and then make the very best and most informed decision for your son – even if it is hard.
Want to read more, mostly unbiased, check out the circumcision complications wiki page – you can navigate all the medical studies yourself.
Sarah Milston owns Milston Consulting, a consulting firm working with nonprofits on fundraising, marketing and social media. She is also a Lead Consultant at Floricane, a local consulting firm helping organizations, teams and individuals transform and change. But most of all she is the part time stay at home mother of the delightfully extroverted Lily Jaymes and soon to be second child. She has learned that balance is more than holding your arms out. @sarahmilston