Baby Care

Do babies feel pain during circumcision?

Everything You Need to Know about Circumcision


Boys are usually born with a piece of skin covering the end of the penis which is known as the foreskin. Circumcision is a procedure where this foreskin is removed leaving the tip of the penis exposed. Parents are motivated by different reasons to circumcise their children.

For some it is cultural reasons, others medical and for others it is for religious reasons. Regardless of the motivation, if a parent does decide to circumcise their baby boy, the procedure is usually performed in the baby’s first few days of life.

How the Circumcision procedure is performed

The doctor usually places the baby on a special table and then cleans the baby’s penis and foreskin. A special clamp is then attached to the penis and the foreskin is removed. An ointment and gauze or plastic ring is placed over the cut. This is to protect it from rubbing against the diaper. A doctor will perform the procedure quickly. Your baby might cry during and after the procedure but fortunately, local anesthesia can be used to reduce your baby’s discomfort if a doctor allows it.

Do babies feel pain during circumcision?

Most newborns do not receive adequate anesthesia. Only 45% of doctors who do circumcisions use any anesthesia at all. Like in many other medical procedures and surgeries, the circumcision might be painful or at least not comfortable for the baby. But the good news is that even if it is painful, the baby won’t remember it.

The benefits of circumcision

Circumcision reduces the risk of boys contracting:

  • Foreskin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Penile cancer
  • STIs
  • This is a condition in uncircumcised males where foreskin retraction is impossible

Some parents have reservations about circumcision including:

  • Surgical risks: circumcision is a surgery like any other and has its own risks like bleeding and infection. But these infections are rare
  • Penile damage in case the foreskin is cut too short or too long which is also very rare
  • Alteration of penile sensitivity where some people claim that circumcision lessens the sensitivity of the tip of the penis thus decreasing sexual pleasure later in life
  • The fear of the pain the baby might feel
  • Protection of the tip of the penis since circumcision may cause irritation to the penis and cause the urinary tract to become too small leading to problems during urination.

How to care for a circumcised newborn

  • Wash your hands using soap and warm water before changing the diapers
  • Change the diapers often so that urine and stool don’t cause infection
  • If the penis is dressed with a gauze, use a new bandage every time you change his diaper
  • Coat the gauze with petroleum jelly or almond oil to prevent it from ticking
  • In case a plastic ring was used instead of a bandage, it will fall off by itself in five to eight days

Circumcision complications

Complications due to circumcision are rare but when you notice any of these signs, then you need to see your pediatrician:

  • Your baby doesn’t urinate normally 6 to 8 hours after circumcision
  • There is persistent bleeding
  • Redness around the tip of the penis which gets worse after 3 days

If you choose not to circumcise your baby, then maintaining the cleanliness of the penis is what is most important. You must also teach your son as they grow older how to clean the foreskin every day.

Circumcision is not a necessity. The decision is up to you.