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The choice for circumcision is a personal one. This decision is usually based on religious, cultural and traditional factors. Some other reasons may be health and hygiene issues, or if the father of the baby has been circumcised. Talk to your baby’s healthcare provider about the procedure if you are not sure what to do.

The procedure is usually performed on the day of discharge from the hospital. You will have to sign a consent form before the circumcision is done. Analgesia has been found to be safe and effective in pain relief associated with circumcision. The baby will be observed closely afterwards for bleeding by the nursing staff and then should be checked every hour for the first 12 hours to detect unusual bleeding.

There are different techniques used for circumcision. Your nurse will teach you about care of the circumcision at the time of discharge. Petroleum jelly or whatever ointment your healthcare provider recommends is usually applied to the tip of the penis with each diaper change for the first few days. The tip of the penis may appear red and have yellow crusts in spots. Do not try to wash off this yellow substance. It is part of the healing process. If there is any unusual swelling, oozing or bleeding, call your baby’s healthcare provider.

Jaundice

Jaundice, which simply means “yellow,” is common in newborn babies. It causes a yellow appearance of the baby’s skin and eyes and results from a normal body chemical called bilirubin. Newborn babies have additional red blood cells reserved for the birth process. One of the breakdown products of red blood cells is bilirubin. The liver in the newborn is fully developed, but not 100% efficient. Therefore, extra bilirubin is transferred to the blood and stored in the skin until the liver breaks it down. This is called physiologic jaundice.

Physiologic jaundice is not harmful and will usually respond without any medical treatment. This may last up to one week. There are other cases of jaundice that may call for specialized treatment.

Jaundice can become dangerous and cause permanent and inevitable brain damage if the level of bilirubin becomes too high. The baby’s healthcare provider will monitor your baby’s bilirubin and treat it as necessary. You may need to make extra visits to the healthcare provider’s office or the lab in order to be certain that the bilirubin level is correct.

The treatment of this disorder is varied depending on its underlying cause and severity of jaundice. Phototherapy, or the bililite, is used widely to treat many infants. Baby’s eyes are covered and his skin is exposed to special fluorescent lights that lower the bilirubin buildup. Exchange blood transfusions may be reserved for the more severe cases of jaundice.

If you see yellow skin and possibly yellow eyes in your newborn, call your healthcare provider for instructions right away.

The Gift of Motherhood – your personal journey through prepared childbirth 118

If you choose not to have your son circumcised, check with your healthcare provider for a recommendation on care.

Page 120 - Stormont-Vail GOM baby friendly ebook

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