Circumcision used to be the norm -- but the times, they are a-changin'. If you're not sure about circumcision, here's what you need to know so you can make an informed decision.

Understand the benefits and risks

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), medical benefits of circumcision may include a slightly lower risk of urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections, prevention of foreskin infections and easier hygiene. The AAP says risks may include complications from the surgical procedure and some feel the foreskin protects the penis and without it sexual pleasure may decrease later in life.

Don't worry about the locker room later

Many parents in the U.S. decide to circumcise their baby boys because they think circumcision is still the norm. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) circumcision rates are declining here. I don't spend time in boy's locker rooms, but I know it's talked about -- my sons tell me the conversations about "who is and who isn't" has come up -- on the school playground.

Be comfortable with your decision

If you decide to circumcise, talk about the benefits and risks with your OB or pediatrician. Babies need to be full term and healthy to be circumcised within a day or two after birth -- unless you are having a bris (a Jewish welcoming ceremony that includes circumcision). In that case, circumcision is done eight days after birth as long as baby is healthy.

Whether to circumcise him is a personal choice. Some parents choose to wait and let their sons decide for themselves later in life. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what's right for your baby.

newborn baby

So, what's the best thing to do?

Recently, the AAP stated there is not enough scientific evidence that warrants them recommending routing circumcision for all baby boys. So, now it's an easy decision to make, right? Maybe -- or maybe not so much. Take me, for instance.

As a childbirth educator and doula, I know the importance of understanding the benefits and risks of circumcision. I have had the joy of seeing many babies born and have done plenty of diaper changes and bathing for baby boys. Intact penises are very easy to clean and take care of -- don't retract the foreskin during diaper changes and wash the penis as you would any other body part during bathing.

I don't really see a reason to routinely circumcise baby boys. I know what a polarizing issue circumcision is but as a Jewish mother I knew my sons would each have a bris.

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Anonymous May 21, 2012
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So, moms who did (or didn't) circumcise, was it an easy or tough decision? Would love to hear your thoughts.