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Should You Circumcise Your Baby Son?

To snip or not to snip. That is the question all parents of baby boys must face. These eight books weigh in on the topic.

From the Hips 1 of 8
Their circ-stance: "Unfortunately, as the debate gets heated, some harsh words can come up: 'mutilation' (for circumcision) and 'unclean' (for uncircumcised) are two biggies. Those words may help cement an opinion, but more often they are an upsetting distraction. Though sometimes stressful, making a decision about circumcision can be an opportunity for parents to have productive, even philosophical conversations."

Snippet of advice: Let this decision be an über talking point for you and your partner, say Odes and Morris. It may lead to some interesting, bigger-picture discussions.
Baby 411 2 of 8
Their circ-stance: "While there are some medical benefits to circumcision (and the
new HIV research is certainly intriguing), the benefits are not clear enough for any medical group to advocate for the procedure. It is a very personal decision, without a right or wrong answer. And while it is hard to assess how circumcision affects sexual pleasure, I don't think either group of men is complaining."

Snippet of advice: It may seem strange to consider factors like how circumcision might affect your son's future sex life, but, as Fields and Dr. Brown remind us, you are making a decision for your son's lifetime. (Also interestingly, they provide a disclaimer before they even begin their discussion of circumcision, likening it to a "friendly" discussion on abortion.)
The Mother of all Pregnancy Books 3 of 8
Her circ-stance: "If you sit down and make a list of the pros and cons of circumcision, you'll find the list to be fairly evenly balanced. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges that the arguments for and against the procedure are about on par. While it has spoken out against routine circumcision, it acknowledges that parents have to make up their own minds about the issue, factoring in their own personal, religious, or cultural factors."

Snippet of advice: This is not a snip, err, snap decision, Douglas says. Take time to really learn about both options, and then decide which you and your partner feel most comfortable with.
The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy 4 of 8
Her circ-stance: "You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that it's the obstetrician, not the pediatrician, who does the tip clipping if you want your son circumcised at the hospital. If you don't think this is an important skill, just ask your mate's opinion. Some doctors seem to leave too much foreskin, some clip too far back, and it is still quite variable as to whether a topical anesthetic is used to mitigate the pain."

Snippet of advice: Talk to your girlfriends about how well they feel their doctors performed their sons' circumcisions. (It may be worth it to you to call and talk to that doc about the procedure.)

Get Iovine's book here.
What to Expect the First Year 5 of 8
Her circ-stance: "Circumcision is probably the oldest medical procedure still performed. Though the most widely known historical record of the practice is in the Old Testament, when Abraham circumcised Isaac, its origins are lost in antiquity, probably going back before the use of metal tools."

Snippet of info: Historically, circumcision was once thought to make masturbation less tempting as well as prevent or cure epilepsy, syphilis, asthma, lunacy, and tuberculosis, none of which is true. (Not noted in Murkoff's book, however, was a March 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that it formally recommends that male circumcision now be recognized as an additional "important intervention to reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men.")
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two 6 of 8
Their circ-stance: "Since little boys do sometimes compare the styles of their penis, many parents feel that sameness is important among brothers."

Snippet of advice: Even if Baby's father or older brother is circumcised, that doesn't mean this baby has to be. "Just as you learn a lot from your first birth and may choose a different style for the next, not every male in the family must be circumcised," the Searses say.
Touchpoints 7 of 8
His circ-stance: "Circumcision should be a family decision. Most important is the father's role in participating in the child's future. I think a father should make the choice for his son. This may be the first time that he experiences a deep possessive feeling about the baby-to-be."

Snippet of advice: Letting Dad play a major role in making this decision will lead to increased input in future childrearing matters. (He does not, unfortunately, go so far as to say your partner will likely also change more diapers.)

Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth 8 of 8
Their circ-stance: "In America, many women are used to, and prefer, the circumcised look, and we can only assume that they assume their son's future girlfriends will too. Some dads worry that their sons will be teased if their looks don't conform to the majority of boys in the locker room."

Snippet of info: Take caution as you read because these experts take the most graphic approach to explaining exactly how the procedure is performed.


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