While circumcision can be a controversial topic in the parenting realm, I have found less information on how to actually care for a circumcision. When I found out I was expecting my first boy after having two daughters, I had no idea what to expect.
How to care for your baby’s circumcision
For parents who choose circumcision, there are a few simple tips to making circumcision care simple at home.
Learn from my mistakes
I’m going to be completely honest with you here — one of my first thoughts after finding out that my husband and I were pregnant with our son was, “Oh no, now I have to deal with a circumcision!” After two daughters, I had escaped free and clear of that whole issue and I can’t say that I wasn’t glad about that.
After a lot of research and talking with some of the medical professionals I work with, we decided to have our infant son circumcised, with a special request for topical anesthesia. He came back to us sleeping soundly — and I drew a sigh of relief. It was finally over!
Except that it wasn’t. Little did I know that I had no idea how to actually take care of a circumcision once the baby leaves the hospital.
After educating many new parents on how to properly care for their baby’s circumcision in my role as a nurse, I was confident that I could do the same for my own son. But as it turns out, I knew far less about that particular male appendage than I thought.
I was so terrified of hurting my son even more that I didn’t properly clean his circumcision site. And to my horror, his foreskin started to grow back. Not once, but twice he had to have his foreskin manually detached at his pediatrician’s office. Thankfully, the doctor caught it in time before it would have required more drastic measures, but it was just enough to make me want to hide away forever in a cave of mom failure and guilt.
So please, learn from my mistakes — and if you choose to circumcise your son, follow a few ground rules.
Keep him comfy
If you are breastfeeding, try to nurse him or offer him a pacifier right after he receives his circumcision and after you do any dressing changes. The act of breastfeeding releases pain-fighting hormones and suckling is a natural comfort to the baby.
Don’t fear the Vaseline
Although the hospital should send you home with a few packets of Vaseline gauze to dress the site with, don’t be afraid to use regular Vaseline at home once you run out. My theory on this? You can’t have too much of a good thing. So gob it on, my friends, gob it on. Scoop out some Vaseline and plop it right around the circumcision site to prevent it from sticking to the baby’s diaper.
Pull that skin back!
As this was my biggest struggle, I can’t emphasize this one enough. Once the circumcision site heals to the point where you can touch it, usually in about a week, you have to pull the remaining foreskin down if you don’t want to it grow back. I was so afraid of hurting him that I didn’t do it, but as I found out the hard way, it’s a necessary step to ensuring the site heals correctly. Pull the skin at the base of the penis down as far as it will go — it won’t hurt him once the site has healed — and be sure that you see the “ring” at the base of the penis. It should be purplish in color. Ask your doctor or pediatrician to show you in office at his first checkup if you’re unsure on this step.
Don’t forget his feet
One of the hardest parts about changing the circumcision site is dealing with the baby’s feet. Babies kick, right? So ask your partner for help in holding back his legs to ensure he doesn’t kick the circumcision site, or secure both of his ankles with one hand before you do any type of dressing change on the baby.