One Baby's Experience

One Baby's Experience

The following pictures were taken from a slide series depicting a routine circumcision of a newborn infant within a typical hospital nursery setting. These pictures were originally published in the December 1981 issue of The Saturday Evening Post and were provided by The Curtis Publishing Company (subsidiary of The Saturday Evening Post). The accompanying text was written by Rosemary Romberg.

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1.These first two pictures are most important because we must remember that this baby, and every baby, does have a mother (and, of course, a father too). New parents are usually nave and trusting of the medical establishment when they go to the hospital to give birth. They may be overwhelmed by unfamiliar and frightening procedures and equipment. Amidst the emotional upheaval and physical challenge of labor and impending birth, parents often face a bombardment of admittance procedures upon entering the hospital. In this state of excitement and confusion, parents frequently sign circumcision consent forms with scarcely any thought. (In the past many babies were routinely circumcised without any parental consent.) Some medical professionals urge reluctant parents to agree to this operation. Others blindly accept this as one more "cog" in the hospital machinery, and give advice that is vague and neutral at best.

Parents may have heard the long disproven associations of circumcision with disease prevention or cleanliness. A circumcised father may have the idea that his sons penis should "match" his own.

2. It is important to remember that new parents do love their babies and sincerely want to do what is best for them. But usually they know very little about hospital procedures and are shielded from what goes on behind the scenes. Certainly if more parents were shown exactly what will happen to their infants if they undergo circumcision, more parents would think twice about choosing this painful and unnecessary operation.
Some viewers may object that pictures of infant circumcision are "too horrible for parents to see." Again, as I have repeatedly emphasized elsewhere, if infant circumcision is too horrible for adults to see, then it should also be too horrible for babies to experience! Who is it most important that we protect?

3. In this picture the baby is sleeping peacefully in his crib in the hospital nursery, blissfully unaware of the trauma that he will soon experience.

4. This picture also shows him sleeping peacefully, in a row of cribs alongside several other babies.

Each infant, so special to his or her own parents and family, is merely "one in the crowd" in most hospitals.

Hospital personnel in maternity wards see hundreds of new babies every year and can easily forget about the specialness and individuality of each one.

5. Newborns commonly drift peacefully between sleep and blissful semi-awakeness. The newborn infant is innocent and trusting of this world and expects that adults will take care of his needs and protect him from har

6. This picture shows the infant strapped in place to the Circumstraint © board, a specially designed plastic board that is molded with depressions that fit the shape of an infant's body. Velcro straps hold his arms and legs securely in place so that he cannot move. Much of the rest of his body will be covered with sterile drapes to help prevent contamination of the circumcision wound. The baby's genitals have been covered with a brownish antiseptic solution - probably Betadine.

Obviously he does not like his strapped down, vulnerable predicament. Even before the painful operation begins, being restrained in this contraption is frightening and traumatic for an infant who only wants to feel warmth, comfort and security. In the background there are several sterile instruments and a small bowl ready for the doctor's use in performing the surgery.

7. In this picture the doctor appears to be loosening the baby's foreskin from the glans ("head") of his penis. Normally, for almost all newborn infant boys, the foreskin is tightly sealed to the glans and the opening is a tiny "pinhole". If he is to undergo circumcision, the opening must first be enlarged by cutting it and the foreskin must be separated from the glans. This involves forcibly tearing one layer of skin away from another and is extremely painful for the baby.

** Important Note** For parents who are planning or considering leaving their babies intact - some medical practitioners will forcibly retract the foreskins of intact baby boys because they do not understand the normal development of the infant's foreskin. This may happen in the hospital nursery or during one of the baby's office visits. Forcibly retracting a baby's foreskin is painful and is usually what causes the so-called "problems" such as infection or phimosis that are often attributed to non-circumcision. It is NORMAL for an intact baby's foreskin to be tight. If left alone it will loosen gradually of its own accord by the time he is anywhere from a few months to a few years old, or possibly not until his teenaged years. If you leave your baby intact, leave his foreskin alone and be sure to instruct your baby's health care provider to leave it alone as well.

8. Now the sterile drape has been placed over the baby as the little patient cannot anticipate what next awaits him.

9. The sterile drape that is designed for use when a baby is circumcised completely covers the baby's body, leaving only a small hole where his penis sticks out.

Of course all he can do is cry. He cries out of fright, discomfort at being restrained in the Circumstraint , and of course from the pain as the most sensitive part of his body is clamped and cut.

10. The first part of the circumcision operation is called the dorsal slit. Since the opening of the baby's foreskin is very tiny, it must be made larger before the “bell” part of the circumcision instrument can be inserted and the clamp applied.

First a hemostat, a scissors-like clamp, is applied to the end of the foreskin. This smashes and flattens a small length of the skin so that there will be little or no bleeding when the cut is made.

Tweezers are also used to lift the foreskin away from the glans and hold it out as the hemostat is applied.

11. This picture continues to show the dorsal slit procedure and the baby's obvious distress. When skin is pinched, clamped, cut and torn, this causes pain.

The idea that newborn infants feel no pain is absolutely false! In years past mothers were often heavily anesthetized during labor and baby boys were commonly circumcised shortly after birth, so those babies would have had some anesthetic in their systems.

Today most mothers give birth either naturally or with regional anesthetics that have less direct effect on the baby. Also, today, most medical professionals prefer to wait at least a day or two after birth before performing a circumcision.

12. This is another close up shot as the dorsal slit procedure continues.

13. The operation continues as the baby continues to cry. Most babies are not anesthetized for circumcision (although anesthesia is usually administered for more serious, necessary operations performed on infants.)

Some practitioners do give the baby a local anesthetic for circumcision, although its use is tricky and its effectiveness questionable. Most babies scream and cry when they are circumcised. However, a few babies go into a semi-coma state of shock for which the trauma is too intense to cry out.

Adults have sometimes mis-interpreted the lack of crying in these instances as indication that circumcision is not painful for a baby.

14. In this picture the "bell" of the circumcision clamp is applied. This is a small bell shaped piece of metal that fits over the glans ("head") of the penis and under the foreskin before it is cut off.

15. This picture shows the outer clamp applied. There are many different devices used for circumcision. What is shown here is the Gomco © clamp. When this clamp is applied, there is a small hole in it where the baby's penis, the "bell" and the foreskin all fit into place. Once the baby's penis is placed in the hole in the clamp, the clamp is screwed down so that the foreskin is smashed between the metal bell and the outer clamp.

This device is usually left in place for about 5 minutes so that the blood vessels are completely sealed off. After that the outer foreskin is trimmed away with a scalpel and the clamp is then removed. Normally stitches are not required when a baby is circumcised.

16. This shows the baby during the five minute wait while the Gomco © clamp seals off the foreskin.

17. The newly circumcised penis. Normally the freshly exposed glans is bright red like this and will not look like the rest of his skin until after it heals up after several days. When a baby is left intact his glans is normally well hidden under his foreskin and not readily visible. If his foreskin is retracted (again, we urge that this not be done!), his glans will also appear red like this. The glans of an intact older child or adult also looks somewhat pinkish or reddish, distinctly different from that of the circumcised male. The glans of an intact male remains much more sensitive and the intact penis is a much different type of organ. The surface of the foreskin protected glans is similar to the skin in the inside of the mouth or the inside of the vagina. The absence of the foreskin makes what is intended to be an inside organ into an outside organ. The glans of the circumcised individual becomes much thicker, less sensitive, and more like outside skin as it is in constant contact with air or clothing.

The skin of the newly circumcised glans of a newborn baby has just had its outer protective layer torn away and will be raw and sore like the very sensitive new skin beneath a blister. The circumcised baby's penis will be sore for several days and it will sting whenever he urinates. It is advised that he be diapered loosely and have his diaper changed as frequently as possible.

18. In this picture a bandage is being applied to the baby's penis. It is applied in a way that the baby can urinate through the end, and obviously must be changed whenever the baby wets or soils his diaper. Today it is less common for caretakers to bandage a baby's penis following circumcision. Often only a tiny gauze strip saturated with petroleum jelly is applied around the wound. Parents or care providers are usually instructed to apply petroleum jelly or a similar ointment to the wound as it heals. This helps to protect it from urine and makes it somewhat less sore.

19. Now the sterile drape has been removed but the bandage is still in place and the baby is still strapped down to the Circumstraint © board. Another Circumstraint © board awaits in the background for the next baby. Infant circumcision normally takes around 10-15 minutes.

Sometimes medical professionals will circumcise several babies over lunch hour or early in the morning while making their rounds. Hospital nurseries usually have several Circumstraint © boards, various clamps and other equipment used for circumcision on hand.

20. The baby is now lifted up out of the Circumstraint board and is ready to be re-diapered and placed back in his crib, or hopefully be brought back to his mother for comforting. There is a look of betrayal in the baby's expression, especially in his eyes. He now knows that this world is not as safe or harmless as he once supposed. Babies learn from their experiences. Even experiences not consciously remembered later in life contribute to a negative or positive effect on each individual.

We can only speculate what the long term effect of this assault on a baby's body may be, but many have suggested that the tendency for insensitivity, callousness and violence on the part of many males in our society may have its roots in this traumatic operation during infancy. In any event, it is obvious that the infant who is spared the trauma of painful, unnecessary medical procedures will certainly be a much more peaceful, trusting individual.

This alone should be the basis for parents' consideration in leaving their infants whole, peaceful, natural and intact.

For permission to reproduce any or all of these pictures or text please contact:

The Saturday Evening Post
c/o The Curtis Publishing Co.
1100 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN. 46202
(317) 633-8841

Rosemary Romberg
13020 Sues Way
Anchorage, AK. 99516
(907) 345-4813

Monica Lunn and received permission from Rosemary Romberg to publish this here.


love said...

heart sad

please stop harming our sons

Nico Bell said...

I've always opposed circumcision; now as the soon-to-be-mother of a son due in August, I'm more horrified than ever someone could do this to a newborn who can't understand why his first experience on Earth is of such pain, or that it will stop.

Anonymous said...

Two sayings of wise men should be held in mind when considering this subject---"INNOCENCE FINDS NOT NEARLY SO MUCH PROTECTION AS GUILT" and "CRUELTY IS THE FIRST ATTRIBUTE OF THE DEVIL."

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