An extract from:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Third Edition,
July 1981.

Pages 92-93


If you are going to be in the hospital anyway for the birth of your baby, you or your doctor may suggest that you have some other medical matter attended to. Examples of elective surgery for the mother include stripping the legs of varicose veins or tying the fallopian tubes (tubal ligation). As for the baby, it may be considered almost routine to circumcise boy babies when they are only a few hours or days old. But circumcision is elective surgery and you have a choice of whether or not to have your baby circumcised. You can also choose to wait a while before having this done. We bring this up because, physically and emotionally, these procedures all take their toll on mother and child. Since they represent elective surgery, their appropriateness at this critical time must be questioned.

Circumcision is as painful a procedure to a newborn as it is to an adult. As a religious rite, circumcision is not performed until the baby is eight days old, when he is less likely to hemorrhage. The reasons given in the past for the non-religious, almost routine circumcision were generally hygienic and are no longer accepted by many physicians and parents. If you're interested in learning more about this subject see the book list at the end of the book.

The most important reason for deciding against elective surgery following childbirth is that it interferes with a mother and her new baby being together and getting to know each other. While a mother may feel very good following the birth of her baby, her body nevertheless has some recovering to do. Adding the strain of recovering from a surgical procedure might lessen her enjoyment of these early days with her baby.

In regard to tubal ligation, there can often be an unexpected emotional reaction in the mother. When it dawns on her that the baby in her arms is her last, there may be feelings of deep sadness. It might become difficult for her to keep a normal perspective on her mothering of this baby. She may become exceedingly anxious about doing everything just right.

Whatever the inconvenience you may experience by postponing such operations for you or your baby, it is slight compared to the upheaval such surgery can cause in your life at this time.

Book List:

Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy by Edward Wallerstein.
      Springer Publishing: 1980. Softcover
      Available from Birth & Life [CIRP Note: This excellent book, published in 1980, is out of print in 2002.]

(File revised 11 August 2005