Pregnancy and you blog

Foreskin: To keep or not to keep?

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. May 21, 2013

Are you planning to circumcise your son?

You might favor circumcision if the practice is part of your faith or religious rituals. Concerns about personal hygiene sometimes factor into the decision. You might also view circumcision as a way to prevent any medical issues that could be associated with an uncircumcised penis — or you might simply want your son to look like other boys or men in the family (or the locker room).

On the other side of the debate, you might feel that circumcision is simply unnecessary or even disfiguring. Unless there's a medical need for the procedure, you might feel strongly about keeping your son's foreskin intact.

Whether you're learning toward or against circumcision, you might be surprised by how emotional the decision can become. Take my husband, for example. He assumed that our son would be circumcised and I was upset (as only a pregnant woman can be!) that he would think the decision would be automatic.

It gets even trickier if your partner is circumcised and you'd rather your son remain uncircumcised — or vice versa. If you're navigating this challenging situation, be careful to reassure your partner that your preference isn't a reflection on him or a statement about his own penis.

If you're having trouble agreeing on circumcision or the topic has become the elephant in the room, take charge. Set aside time to discuss your preferences. Review the risks and benefits, and then discuss what you want for your son. Even if you're expecting a girl, have the circumcision discussion — just in case there's a penis hiding from the ultrasound waves.

As you're discussing circumcision, remember that the decision isn't always analytical. It's OK to make the decision based on feelings and emotions. Talk to your partner, make your decision and then be at peace — knowing that you've made the best choice for your baby.

Did you discuss circumcision with your partner before pregnancy? Was it difficult to reach an agreement? Please share your stories.

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May. 21, 2013