Will the Hospital Accidentally Circumcise My Son?

May 14, 2015 Posted by Nathan

Nathan and sonQuestion: If I decide to leave my son intact (uncircumcised), will the hospital make a mistake and circumcise him anyway?

Answer: It’s not impossible, but it’s generally unlikely. These days, most hospitals require parents to sign a consent form if they want their babies circumcised, so this protective barrier makes it less likely that a mix-up will occur.

Circumcision is surgery, and like any surgery, if paperwork hasn’t been filled out, it’s not going to be booked on the surgery schedule. So thankfully this creates a nice buffer that may have not existed 20, 30, or more years ago when surgery procedures were much more lax.

Now I can speak from firsthand experience too! I am very happy to announce that my husband and I adopted a baby boy this past winter. We did not encounter any problems keeping him intact.

I’ve decided to share extensive details about our experience to help other parents prepare for what they can expect from doctors and nurses when they bring their whole baby home.

This is our story…

Finding a Foreskin-Friendly Pediatrician

We wanted to find a foreskin-friendly pediatrician before our son was born. So in 2014, we met with six pediatricians (five female, one male) in our search to find the right fit for our family. During our meetings, we brought up the topic of circumcision. The five female doctors were supportive of our decision to keep our son intact. They were refreshingly neutral and calm about the topic. Several of them noted that “most people don’t circumcise anymore,” one said “it’s not medically necessary,” and the rest just shrugged it off completely, saying they didn’t have an opinion either way.

The one male doctor was passive aggressive. He said he respected our decision, but then made a remark about how he’d recommend that we reconsider our decision.

We went with the female doctor who said “it’s not medically necessary.” We liked her for many reasons and felt most comfortable with her overall. She has proven to be an excellent doctor throughout this journey.

At the Hospital

Babies are usually not circumcised on the first day. It may not even be mentioned. The only thing doctors and nurses really care about is whether the baby has his first poop and how he’s doing with feeding on the first day.

Because of the adoption situation, we were not able to be there when he was born. But we did get to take over care of him on the second day, which was still very nice. So on that second day, a female nurse came by and asked me, “You don’t want him circumcised, do you?” I shook my head and said, “Of course not.” She pat me on the arm and said, “Good choice, dear.”

If you DON’T circumcise your child, there is no paperwork. It’s basically like the child is invisible as far as the hospital goes. They just keep him in a bassinet and monitor him in the room, but they never removed him from the room after he was born.

If you DO circumcise your child, you have to fill out a mountain of paperwork releasing the hospital from legal responsibility. You actually have to jump through a lot of hoops to have your child circumcised—which is good because it minimizes the risk of mix-ups and gives parents time to cancel the procedure.

Before our son was released, a male doctor came by for a final exam. As he was finishing up, he said, “You didn’t want him circumcised, did you?” I told him no. He smiled and said, “Oh good, because I wouldn’t have time for that. You’d have to make an appointment and come back some other time.”

I was very pleased with the doctor’s reaction. He made circumcision sound like a complete burden. A parent would have to really want it done to come back later.

Pediatrician Visits

After our son was born, our regular pediatrician never asked whether we had him circumcised. It wasn’t on any of the forms at her office. She’s never removed his diaper and never looked at his penis. She really doesn’t seem to care about his genitals—which is good, because his genitals aren’t anyone’s business!

When she sees him, she checks his weight and growth. She checks his eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and reflexes. We discuss his feeding, sleeping, and digestive habits. That’s all that seems to matter to her.

Cleaning and Caring for an Intact Baby

Changing an intact baby’s diaper is so easy! I wish that all parents knew how simple it is.

With circumcised babies, you have to clean and wipe all around the glans, and along the shaft, and make sure nothing gets in the urethra to cause an infection. It’s a lot of work and awkward touching.

With an intact baby, the foreskin does not retract (it’s fused to the glans, similar to how your fingernail is fused to your finger). There is a tiny pinhole for urine to come out, but it’s too small for anything to really get into and doesn’t require any special care.

When we clean him, we just swipe a baby wipe around his genitals. It’s very easy and low maintenance (except for when he poops, of course).

So that’s what it’s like having an intact baby boy in 2015. We still have minds to change and hearts to open. But things are getting better for our baby boys, and if you look at surveys, you’ll see less boys are being circumcised in the U.S. each year.

I’m satisfied with the positive experiences we’ve had with doctors, nurses, and hospitals, and I believe the future will continue to get brighter.

If you’re a parent who is thinking about circumcising your son, please reconsider. There is something very beautiful and pure about your perfect little baby being born into the world. I cannot imagine putting him through a painful and unnecessary surgery like circumcision. Can you?

Thank you for reading with an open heart.

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About the Author, NathanNathan