Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Pleads NO CIRCS! (12/99)

I am a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and am expecting my fourth child (second son) in the spring. I am probably one of few who has contributed to this debate with the extent of personal knowledge and experience in this area. The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends routine circumcision of newborn males. (Please see PEDIATRICS, vol.103, #3, March 1999,pp 686- 693). Besides being medically and hygeinically unnecesary, it is a BARBARIC surgical procedure! Except in the rare instance where a pediatrician has further training in in neonatology or surgery, they are unable to perform circumcisions, as they are not board certified in type of surgery. This means your obstetrician performs the surgery. An obstetrician IS the doctor of a woman who has a fetus growing in her womb. As soon as the infant in born, the baby's care is QUICKLY transferred to the postpartum nurse, the pediatrician, or the neonatal nurse practitioner. Only a pediatrician or NNP can perform a NORMAL newborn exam, yet circumcisions are routinely performed by the obstetrician, as they perform surgical procedures, all on women of childbearing age (I am in no way blaming the obstetricians....I doubt any would object to quickly handing over this responsibility). Is this rather unnerving? It should be.

I believe that any parent who saw a circumcision performed first would rarely consent to one being done on their own son. Local anesthesia, although recommended by the AAP, is RARELY used. The infant is placed on a cold plastic board (that can be easily cleaned and reused) and all four extremities are tightly strapped down with wide velcro. The babies DO SCREAM in pain during AND after the whole surgical procedure. What a way to enter the world! Usually by the time the infant is brought back to the parent(s), he is tightly swaddled with a pacifier in his mouth. Make no mistake about what has preceded this serene look you see. This child is WORN OUT, HURTING, and probably has no energy left to keep on protesting!

Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, I have cared for 2 newborn males whose penises were COMPLETELY severed accidentally during their circumcisions. If you are still considering circumcising your son, PLEASE carefully read the informed consent that you MUST sign. Take ALL of the risks noted VERY SERIOUSLY,even if the doctor, nurse, or practitioner tries to minimize them. You would not need to sign an informed consent regarding these if they were not TRUE risks!!" --Respectfully, Kat

Return to Nurses' Stories