How To Care For Your Baby's Circumcision

dad holding son
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If you've made the decision to circumcise your son, you may be wondering how on earth you're supposed to take care of him before and after the circumcision. Some people chose to circumcise for religious reasons, other for personal reasons, and still others for health reasons. The CDC recently declared that the benefits of circumcision do outweigh the potential risks, primarily because circumcision lowers the risk of some cancers.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcisions. The decision you make is very much a personal one. 

If you do decide to have your baby undergo the procedure in the hospital, the nurses there will most likely give you some basic care instructions and a few packs of Vaseline gauze to place on the fresh wound, but let's be real—sometimes it feels impossible to remember anything they tell you right after you have a baby. Plus, the whole care can just feel confusing. It's so tiny! What if it starts bleeding? How will you know when it's healed? There are so many questions running through your head, some answers are sure to be comforting. 

How Long Does it Take for the Circumcision to Heal? 

Your baby's circumcision site will be pretty sore for the first 24 hours especially and after the initial day of healing, it will still take about one week to fully heal.

Although rare, it is possible for your baby's circumcision site to bleed even after 24 hours, so if you do notice any heavy bleeding from the site, be sure to take him to the doctor's or emergency room right away. 

How Do I Take Care of a Circumcision Site?

The most important thing you need to do is make sure to watch for bleeding.

The site should stop bleeding within six hours and the hospital usually will not send you home until the site is done bleeding. Be sure to avoid irritating the penis when you do leave. Remember, that site is sore when you're putting your baby in his car seat, for example. You can cleanse the site with regular warm water, but don't wipe the site down until it's healed; instead, wring a rag of warm water around the penis and dab the skin around it dry. 

If you see a scab on the head of the penis, don't remove it! It will fall off on its own. And to keep the site from sticking to the diaper (if you're using disposable diapers), wrap the top of the penis in Vaseline gauze from the hospital. If you run out, you can simply take a glob of regular old Vaseline and put it on the circumcision site. It won't hurt the wound and it will just help protect the skin from sticking to the diaper or pulling on it. 

What's the Most Important Thing to Do to Help the Circumcision Site Heal?

The most common thing I saw parents most often overlook was pulling the foreskin down on the penis. Although circumcision removes part of the foreskin, it doesn't remove it all and the skin at the bottom of the circumcision site will re-attach if you don't pull it down.

To do this, you should pull the foreskin down firmly around the penis once the site has healed (after that first week) and make sure all the skin can move freely. If the skin does reattach, you may have to take the baby to the doctor to free the skin. It's not a pleasant experience for the baby, so it's better to avoid having to do so if you can. 

What Should I Watch Out For?

Obviously, you should be watching for any bleeding, but you will also want to watch the site for any signs of infection. Watch the site for any signs of increased redness, swelling, or any pus drainage.