Reprinted with permission from "Immaculate Deceptions II: Myth, Magic & Birth" by Suzanne Arms
Today the world's pediatric associations unanimously agree that there is no medical reason to circumcise and many insurance companies now refuse to pay for the procedure, yet circumcision is still performed on 60 percent of newborn males in the United States each year. Some babies are circumcised for religious reasons, some for cultural belief that it makes the body more attractive sexually, and many others are put through this unnecessary surgery because it is erroneously claimed to promote hygiene and prevent infection. In circumcision, the delicate covering of the head of the penis is pulled away, crushed, and cut off. For many years people believed that babies--especially newborns--did not feel or remember pain. Because of the known risks of giving babies anesthesia, all kinds of surgeries used to be performed on conscious babies. Today, it is understood that a newborn baby does feel pain and is traumatized by undergoing surgery without anesthesia; circumcision is the only surgery that continues to be done without it. I recall the first circumcision I saw. The parents had gone to great lengths to birth their baby without drugs other interventions so that he might have a peaceful beginning. He had spent his first week at home, breast-fed and cuddled, before arriving at the pediatrician's to be circumcised. The couple had argued over whether it should be done at all, but the boy's father prevailed. He felt his son's penis should look like his.
Both Parents were present, and the mother held the baby down. The moment the doctor put the clamp on the foreskin, the boy began to scream. His father went pale, turned away, and left the room. Holding her son's legs apart, the mother bent over him and tried to calm him as the doctor cut quickly. The baby, awake and helpless, continued to scream. It took less than a minute, yet during that time, the baby had arched his back, grabbed his mother's collar in both hands, and tried in vain to pull himself away from the source of pain. Afterward, his mother picked him up and put him to her breast. He suckled frantically, crying and gulping air between swallows of warm milk. Turning to me, the mother said, "I'd never have allowed it if I'd known it would hurt him." "We were told it was a simple procedure, that few babies find it painful, and that if they do, they get over it," the father later said. I've since witnessed a number of circumcisions. In each case, the baby obviously feels pain and makes a strong effort to escape. Parents trying to decide whether to have their infant son circumcised need to know that the foreskin is a normal, healthy, protective tissue, and that the circumcision procedure carries the serious threat of hemorrhage and unintentional mutilation. Even if the procedure is successful, the wound is raw for ten to fifteen days. Circumcision is painful and potentially traumatic, and the imprint of that trauma can be lasting. For more information, contact NOCIRC (see Resources).
Reprinted with permission from Suzanne Arms & Celestial Arts: 1-877-BIRTHING. You may buy both the video and the book at their site Birthing The Future™, or through the links below.
Deceptions II" will definately change your perspective on
childbirth! Suzanne Arms describes the history of "modern"
childbirth in a way that is very sobering. Talk to your mother and your
grandmother about their childbirth experiences, read the stories in this
book, then reflect on your own experiences. I highly recommend this
Return to Nurses' Stories