Circumcision: The Intact Point-of-View
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Matthew Hess: In The United States Today all forms of child female circumcision are prohibited under title 18 of the US Code. Males are not included in that legislation however, and as a result nearly 33% of American boys are still circumcised. As a leader of the movement to keep young boys’ genitals intact I believe that’s 33% too many. I’m Matthew Hess, president of MGMBill.org and today we’re talking about circumcision from the “intacticus” point of view. This is Parent Savers episode 53.
Johner Riehl: Welcome everybody to Parent Savers, broadcasting as usual from the Birth Education Center of San Diego - great facility here in San Diego. Parent Savers is your weekly online on-the-go support group for parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. I am your host, Johner Riehl. Thank you so much for listening, and for those of you who joined our Parent Savers Club I want to say thanks to you, as you know, you get all access to all of our archived episodes, bonus content after each new show, plus we do special giveaways from time to time and offer discounts on products. For those of you who subscribed to our monthly newsletter keep your eye out for a chance to win a membership to our club. We’ll be sending that out soon. And another way for you guys all to stay connected if you haven’t already is to download our free Parent Savers App. You can get it on Google Play or in the App Store and from that you can easily listen to all of our podcasts. You’ll get them as soon as they come out and you’ll be able to listen to them whenever you want. As you guys know I have three young boys: a six-year-old, a four-year-old and an almost two-year-old. I am the host of Parent Savers. I am 39. I myself am circumcised and we made the choice to get all three of our boys circumcised.
Scott Kilian: I’m Scott Kilian. I am 36, a certified financial planner. I’ve got one boy who’s three, Alex, and I am circumcised. We made the decision to not circumcise Alex.
Matthew Hess: I am Matthew Hess, president of MGMBill.org. I’m also the author of “Foreskin Man” comic book series. I’m 44 years old. I am also circumcised.
Jami Ortiz: I am Jami Ortiz. I’m 37 years old. I’m a stay-at-home mom and an independent Passion Parties consultant. I have four children: three girls ages 16, 12, and 10 and one five-year-old boy. I’m intact, as well as my husband and we chose to keep all of our children intact as well.
Sunny Gault: My name is Sunny Gault. I am the host and producer of Parent Savers’ sister show Preggy Pals, which is all about pregnancy. I have two little boys at home: one is about two and a half and one is just about to turn one. Both of them were circumcised and yes, I am excited for today’s show.
Johner Riehl: We’ve a question for one of our experts from Adrienne in New Mexico. She writes: “I’m having a hard time with my son’s cradle cap. I can’t get rid of it and it just keeps coming back. What suggestions can you offer me? I’ve been using gentle baby products because he has eczema. Help!”
Frederick Johnson: Hi! It’s Dr. Frederick Johnson calling in Adrienne. I guess my first question would be how old is your son? Usually for younger kids or infants we suggest using either Head and Shoulders or soap and once or twice a week to get rid of the scales and then using a gentle brush and perhaps baby oil in-between. If it’s not doing any better with that after, I would say, a couple of weeks you should probably have him seen by his doctor just to make sure that it’s only cradle cap and not something else. So I hope that answers all your questions and I’ll talk to everyone later. Bye-bye!
Johner Riehl: Welcome everyone. Today’s topic, as you know, is circumcision. We actually did a show in February where we featured Dr. Mohamed Bidair. He’s a doctor who performs circumcisions and we discussed that perspective and his perspective. Scott was one of our panelists at the time and I also asked Sunny to join us as well since she was in the room too, so we would be able to kind of represent that view point as well or what was discussed there. While we’re talking to Matthew from his point of view we definitely wanted to examine this from a different angle because I know that there are a lot of parents that research this issue. It’s a very hot topic. So Matthew here is the president of MGMBill.org. He’s a supporter of the build and what he calls “male genital mutilation”. Welcome so much, thanks for joining us!
Matthew Hess: Thank you for having me, Johner.
Johner Riehl: Let’s start out I guess from your point of view to describe what happens when a young kid or adult is circumcised.
Matthew Hess: Well in this country it’s mostly done on infants and an infant is typically strapped down onto a board with his arms immobilized. Anesthesia may or may not be used - in many cases it still isn’t used – and the doctor basically puts a metal clamp over the penis.
Johner Riehl: Ok. I know one of the things Dr. Bidair said was he does a lot of adult circumcision but in his experience there is anesthesia used.
Matthew Hess: Always in adult circumcisions and more so nowadays with infant circumcision, but it’s still not universal. So in some cases it’s done, in other cases it’s not. It’s really up to the physician and the hospital’s policy. But in either case the foreskin is forcibly separated from the glans, which at the age of infancy is fused, much like a fingernail is to your nail bed. So that’s forcibly separated, pulled over a metal clamp and then with scissors the foreskin is cut longitudinally and then around. So it’s, without anesthesia, and excruciatingly painful procedure. And even with anesthesia, once the anesthesia wears off you’ve gone through major surgery and for the next few days the boy is going to be in some pretty serious pain.
Johner Riehl: It makes sense that they would need to restrain the kids or hold them. I don’t know about the strap work, I’ve never been in a room for a circumcision, so that seems like something that the parents could ask. The parents would definitely want to talk to their doctor about it as well. So: I don’t have a foreskin, I know moms don’t have foreskins either and a lot of our listeners are moms, so can we talk a little bit about moms with uncircumcised…
Jami Ortiz: Actually we do. The female clitoral hood is the same tissue as the male foreskin.
Johner Riehl: Ok, but for the penis foreskin… can you tell me a little bit about it, what it does and what functions it serves?
Matthew Hess: Sure. There are a lot of functions, but there are three main ones. The first one is very basic: it’s protection. The penis is actually designed, when it’s not in use, to be an internal organ. It’s meant to be kept inside its sheath. So the foreskin acts very much like an eyelid. It keeps the penis moist and sensitive so that when it is used the sensations will be the best they can possibly be. So you can imagine if you were to remove your eyelid, your vision would not be as sharp without an eyelid because your eyeball would dry out and get keratinized and that’s exactly what happens with a penis once the foreskin is removed. The mucosal tissue turns into basically callus. And if you can imagine what it’s like working a summer job without gloves doing manual labor and at the end of the summer you rub your fingertips and you realize you don’t have the same sensation in your fingers that you had when you started and that’s because your body has reacted to protect your fingertips sensitivity by building up callus. And that’s what happens, what your body responds to circumcision, by doing that to protect your penis against rubbing against clothing and the elements.
Johner Riehl: What part? Is that the tip of the penis?
Matthew Hess: All the part that’s exposed up to the scar, so from the scar line down. And this is where the nerve endings are, so the nerve endings really get covered up by these extra layers of skin. There are multiple layers; they continue to build up over many years and this is why someone who’s circumcised as an adult says, “Well, the sensation wasn’t that much different as far as what I can feel”. Over the years it gets worse because of its keratinization process. The second function, which most men would consider the most important part, is pleasure. The foreskin contains thousands of nerve endings. Many of these nerve endings are not contained in any other part of the penis. The ridged band of nerves is at the tip of the foreskin and those are removed in every circumcision; 100% of the ridged band is gone and those nerves are not duplicated anywhere else, so that’s lost. The other nerve ending is the frenulum, which is a y-shaped muscle which allows the foreskin to retract back into position. And if you ask an intact man what is the most sensitive part of his penis he’s most likely going to point to his frenulum. That is the male G-spot and in any circumcision the frenulum is severed; in most cases it’s partially removed and in many cases it’s completely removed. So, you’ve lost a lot of sexual sensitivity. The third main function is what’s referred to as the natural gliding mechanism, and this is a natural form of lubrication that the foreskin provides during sexual activity. Masturbation, for example, is very easy with a foreskin, you don’t need lube. But more importantly perhaps: during sexual activity a lot of women complain of vaginal dryness, or the men complain of chafing during sex – sex that’s too rough. Well that’s because the penis – when you’re having sex with a circumcised penis – goes in and out of the vagina. And as it does that it pulls the moisture out with it and also creates a lot of friction. But with a foreskin, it’s designed so that the penis slides in and out of the foreskin, not in and out of the vagina. And it’s a frictionless mechanism, so it’s a very different sexual experience – having sex with a foreskin and without. And most women who have had it both ways say that they prefer with a foreskin.
Johner Riehl: Got it, that’s anecdotal. So, shifting gears a little bit, I want to make sure we cover some of the health issues. We’ve got the American Academy of Pediatrics statement which… I don’t think I need to read the whole thing, but it says, “Specific benefits identified for circumcision include prevention of urinary tract infections, which we will talk about in a little bit, penile cancer, and transition of some sexually transmitted infections including HIV. How do you respond to that? And as we’re talking about that I noticed that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed a statement. I need to understand… maybe you have some pro facts as to why that is not included too. Because I’m not sure what obstetricians and gynecologists have to do with a penis.
Matthew Hess: Well the reason is actually most circumcisions are performed by ob/gyns, not pediatricians. The majority are done by them as sort of an added service at the hospital or afterwards, so that's why they’re also involved in making this circumcision policy. But, you know, this is the American medical institution view, not the world view, and right around the time that this American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement came out, completely different policy statements came out from Germany and from the Netherlands. The Royal Dutch Medical Society and the German Pediatrics Association came up with exactly the opposite conclusion that the American Academy of Pediatrics did, saying that you should never circumcise an infant for these reasons because the risks outweigh the benefits and as far as the studies go that they’ve referenced – for almost every medical study that you can find that says, “circumcision provides this protective effect”, you can find another study that finds either no correlation or the opposite effect. And this is especially true with AIDS, because there have been so many studies done on it since those first three trials that got so much coverage in the news. But I’ll add that there has also been at least one study showing that female circumcision also has a protective effect against AIDS. And yet no one is suggesting that female circumcision should be brought back into the United States for that reason. So there’s again this gender discrimination, a sort of double standard that’s taking place here: we would never do that to our girls, but for boys we’ll do it, it’s ok. So I don’t think any of these are good reasons, again, to remove healthy functional tissue. If at some time, at some point in the future a problem occurs, a medical issue, then you can deal with it at that time, just like breast cancer. I mean, we don’t lop off breasts to prevent women from dying from breast cancer.
Johner Riehl: At an older age that does happen.
Jami Ortiz: But that’s their choice.
Matthew Hess: That’s their decision, and of course I feel that if men want to make the same decision with their foreskins they are certainly free to do that.
Johner Riehl: So, Matthew, why do you think parents should not circumcise their child?
Matthew Hess: I think the number one reason is the same reason that you wouldn’t circumcise your daughter – and that is you removing healthy, erogenous tissue without their consent. It’s not diseased tissue; it’s something that’s there for a reason and let’s just say… mastectomy for example. There are a lot of health reasons given for circumcision, but you can make those same arguments for mastectomy – and we wouldn’t let parents do that. So we shouldn’t allow that for a boy’s penis.
Johner Riehl: It’s interesting what Jami was saying to think about it, that women do have a foreskin, because it’s not called that.
Matthew Hess: It’s called a prepuce most commonly, or the clitoral hood. And there are many forms of female circumcision – there’s the type where you just remove the clitoral hood, which is like the foreskin, the equivalent of the male foreskin, and also the labia; the labia serves a similar purpose to the foreskin in the female, it’s to keep moisture locked in. So the type of female circumcision that removes the clitoral hood and the labia is, in my mind, the equivalent of male circumcision. Now there are more severe types and these are the types where they also sow the vaginal wall shut and they cut off the clitoris or part of the clitoris. And it could be argued that perhaps that’s more extreme, particularly the sowing of the walls, but either way it is a violation of the body’s integrity and I don’t feel that anyone should have the right to force that on to somebody else or to make that decision for somebody else, I think it should be their decision, the person’s decision when they’ve reached the age of consent.
Sunny Gault: Matthew, why do you think that we as a society feel so differently about female circumcision as opposed to male circumcision? I mean, when we hear about something done to a female we view it automatically as some sort of mutilation, whereas a lot of people view it more of a health concern if you don’t circumcise your male child. So why that distinction, do you think?
Matthew Hess: Well, I think part of it is just female circumcision never really caught on here the same way that male circumcision did. So that’s one aspect of it. There’s also the protective aspect of our girls, we need to protect our girls, and we need to have our boys be strong and brave. But, I think that if we were to try to bring in circumcision now where it’d never been done before there would be a lot more push-back on it.
Johner Riehl: That’s an interesting way to look at it.
Matthew Hess: Yes, I mean if someone were to say, “We’re going to start cutting off the ears of little boys, the earlobes, now because some religion dictates that”, I think there would be a firestorm of controversy over that. So I think a lot of it has to do with just the fact that it’s been around for so long.
Johner Riehl: Tell me a little bit about MGMBill. MGM stands for “Male Genital Mutilation”, correct?
Matthew Hess: Right, yes, and I gave it that title because it was mirrored after the female genital mutilation statute that is currently on the federal books and it’s also in some states. And in a nutshell it just amends current female genital mutilation statutes, at the federal and state levels, to be gender neutral, so that any form of genital cutting, not just on girls, but on boys as well, would be prohibited. So we added language, where it only referred to female genital parts we added “and the male parts” and just took out references to female so that it’s neutral as far as gender.
Johner Riehl: So what is the protection that boys would need? Isn’t it still a decision that a parent can make? Or would they ever be forced into a circumcision situation?
Matthew Hess: Well the way that the current female genital mutilation statute works is – at the federal level and in most states – is that the parent is not allowed to any type of genital cutting. If the woman, when she reaches the age of 18, decides to have labiaplasty or undergo some genital modification she can do so, that’s her choice to do so, and that’s the same way the MGM Bill would work. I’m not opposed to adult male circumcision that’s done voluntarily; someone who’s informed of the risks and side effects, if they want to undergo circumcision, I think that’s their right and it should be their choice. I’m just trying to protect boys from having it forced onto them because a parent can’t know if that boy is going to want to be circumcised when he’s older or if he’s going to want to remain intact. Only he’s going to know that.
Johner Riehl: So your viewpoint has a lot to do with not only your belief that being uncircumcised is better than being circumcised, but also a little bit in the belief that kids should be free to make their own choice, that everyone should be able to make their own choice.
Matthew Hess: Yes, absolutely. I think the same argument could be made for tattooing your child for example.
Sunny Gault: Matthew, actually I had a question going back to the Bill, because we’ve been talking about giving our kids the right to be able to choose their own thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the Bill it would basically say that you can’t circumcise your child until they’re at the age when basically they can make their own decision, right? How does that play in with spiritual and religious beliefs? Because that’s one of the reasons why it was very important for me to circumcise my boys. What kind of response do you have for people that would want to make that choice for that reason?
Matthew Hess: Right. Well, if you ask parents, “Should Muslim parents be able to circumcise their daughter or inflict any type of genital cutting on their daughter because their religion requires that or they believe that their religion requires that?”, parents will say, “No, of course not. You can’t do that. Whatever their religion says, that’s a violation of their rights, their human rights, and they shouldn’t legally be allowed to do that.” And then yet if you ask those same parents, “Should someone be able to cut off their son’s foreskin because their religion requires it or suggests doing it? Should they be able to do that?” they’ll say “Oh well that’s different, that’s ok.” But that’s a clear double standard. It’s really gender discrimination in my view and the MGM Bill does not allow parents to circumcise for religious reasons any more than they would be able to circumcise their daughters for religious reasons. The number one suggestion I’ve received from people is, “I would support this bill if you would just allow religious circumcisions.” And my answer has always been, “I cannot feel comfortable doing that.” because I want to protect all boys, I don’t want to just protect Gentiles, I want to protect Jews and Muslims and all the other boys out there too, because they don’t know that they’re going to be Jewish or Muslim when they grow up; they’re going to grow up to be whatever they want to be.
Johner Riehl: Oh yes, that’s a whole spiritual debate. This is a fascinating topic, there is ton more to cover; I know we have a lot more questions to cover, so we’re going to take a quick break here. When we come back I also want to talk a little more to Jami, who’s someone who had three girls and then a boy and so you did some research and I want to hear about what happened with that. So we’ll be right back.
Johner Riehl: Alright, welcome back everybody. We are talking about circumcision and specifically we are talking about the intact point of view of circumcision with Matthew Hess, the president of MGMBill.org. Before we talk a little more with Matthew I want to talk to one of our panelists today, Jami. Jami is someone that made the decision, after research, to not circumcise her son. I want to hear about what you found out, what was behind your decision and what your thoughts on the subject are.
Jami Ortiz: Well, basically I had my first child in 1996 and we were living in Dallas, Texas. My husband was intact and he was only the second guy that I had ever been with who was, so I didn’t really think a whole lot about it and we discussed before we knew my daughter was a girl and he said he didn’t care and he kind of thought we should because of the social stigma. And I didn’t know anything about it, so if she would have been a boy, she would have been circumcised. With our second daughter – pretty much the same thing. I hadn’t done any research, it was 2000, the internet wasn’t quite what it is now. We didn’t have the mommy groups then. By the time my third daughter came along, I was a little more looking into it and learning more about it and so I was firmly on the fence at that point. By the time I had my son I was part of a baby center and I had joined different mommy groups and done a lot more research and, having lived with my husband for 11 years at that point, I decided, “He’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with him. Why would I risk my child for something that doesn’t need to be done?” And that was about the time I started learning about the risks that come along with it – risks of infection, hemorrhage and shock and trauma to the babies that undergo the procedure. That was really what persuaded me, because your motherly instinct is very strong to protect your child; keep your child from harm. And it just didn’t make sense to sign him up for an unnecessary procedure to amputate part of him. He was made perfect, he came out of me with that, so he obviously needs it, so it didn’t make sense to me to risk his life generally to have no real feasible benefit.
Johner Riehl: You know, it’s interesting you mentioned risk, because I feel like a lot of the reasons for circumcising, religious beliefs aside, are done for just that – to mitigate risk. But then you are left to balance the risks between what are you really mitigating there, what are you protecting them from versus what are you subjecting them to with what you call circumcision.
Jami Ortiz: Right. It’s definitely a risk vs. reward situation where you have to balance between, “Ok, we’re doing this as this is worth the possible benefit” and to me, I’ve never heard of a person who died because he had his foreskin. Urinary tract infections – my girls got those. The rate for a girls is something like 8%. We gave them a little round of antibiotics and it cleared it up. There was no need to amputate anything, no need to cut anything off; the same with any other yeast infections and so on.
Johner Riehl: Right. Those are things that girls just live with.
Jami Ortiz: Exactly. And studies have shown that if we have our clitoral hood and our labia removed it would decrease our risks of urinary infections. But we don’t do that, obviously, because we realize that’s wrong. And it’s such a minor risk. I mean, the risk of actually becoming septic from a urinary infection is astronomical. It hardly ever happens. But the risk of bleeding out or having a heart attack or going into severe shock from the circumcision procedure is not that uncommon. And then a lot of boys grow up with adhesions and skin bridges and infections and all of these other things from their circumcisions. I mean you are basically taking two wounds – where you separate the foreskin from the glans and then separate the foreskin from the penis; and you are covering that with just a little bit of Vaseline and gauze and sticking it in the diaper where you’re getting urine and feces and who knows what else on there. And even as soon as you clean them up there’s still a risk of that getting in there. And so it just didn’t make sense to me to do that. And now he’s five years old and he’s self-retracting, so there is no cleaning necessary; cleaning my daughters was like 100 times more difficult than my son, because when they’re intact it’s stuck on there, I mean retracting the foreskin to clean would be like ripping your finger nail off to clean underneath it. So you just wipe it down like a finger, wipe it off, and then once he is able to retract himself, just tell him, “Hey, make sure you wash your penis.” He spends twenty minutes in the bathtub singing his little scrubby dobby song. So yeah, we’ve had no problems and he’s healthy and happy and if he decides later, “Hey, I want this done”, I’ll say, “Ok. We’ll go talk to the doctor and see what we can do.”
Johner Riehl: You would be open to it if he decided.
Jami Ortiz: If he chose to I would ask him why and if he really had done his research I would support him.
Johner Riehl: Scott, you’re in a unique position. Well maybe it’s not unique, but you’re in an interesting position where you mentioned that you’re circumcised but your son is not. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Scott Kilian: Yes, sure. And I’d just have to go back on what Jami was saying. When we were going through this decision making process it was really important for us to have Alex make his own decision later down the road, we didn’t want to force him to make that decision and that was based on… our research wasn’t all… we didn’t do a ton. However what we found is that the rationale for a circumcision just didn’t seem to make sense – the cleanliness… Andrea and I are both very left-brain folks, we are very thorough and methodical with systems; we handle the baths fairly well. He is clean; there is absolutely no question about that. As far as urinary tract stuff – and I was just kind of listening to what you were saying, I mean what were the reasons? The percentages and things like that didn’t seem to line up, because we were also making decisions about vaccines too and we’re not really doing those either. We have done some and not others and so we’re along those lines. There was one thing that was brought up though, like, “Gee, Scott, what are you going to tell Alex later on down the road when he doesn’t look like you?” Well, he’s going to do a lot of things that are not going to look like the things I do; he’s part Andrea and part me and he’s going to have all that stuff. That’s going to be a function of my relationship with him and my job as a father growing up and I think it extends far beyond what he looks like versus what I look lie. I didn’t want any trauma for him in that area and his genitals, the first thing when he was born into this world… I didn’t want that, Andrea doesn’t want that… And I will tell you that I talked to a lot of parents and more often than not the moms that I talk to are very disappointed in their decision to have a circumcised child. They were crying, they heard their child crying and it was a… it’s very sad. Had they had an opportunity to do it over, they would make a different decision.
Johner Riehl: Yeah. I don’t know how much… I mean, I wonder how much… It’s not like… especially when you get into adulthood or even cognizance… It’s not that you see your dad’s penis that often.
Scott Kilian: No, it’s not like we’re just hanging around talking shop and… “What’ve you got there?” It hasn’t worked like that yet. He’s three and when he’s older…
Jami Ortiz: And if you look alike now, then… you’ve got some problems yourself.
Johner Riehl: Yeah, that’s a good point. That is an excellent point, Jami.
Scott Kilian: But it’s… I mean, there is this sort of momentum I guess that once you have one son circumcised or you yourself are circumcised, there is a lot of momentum towards continuing that train of thought if you will. What do you suggest to families who maybe have kind of changed their mind?
Matthew Hess: Yeah, that’s a bit of a tougher spot, because the temptation there for the parent is, “Oh, well, it’s too late. I’ve already circumcised my first boy, now I’ve got to do it with the second one because what’s going to happen when they notice the difference? But my answer to that is… the solution is not to repeat the same mistake twice; the answer is just have a conversation planned and ready to go when the subject does comes up, because it probably will come up naturally at some point when the boys will recognize that their penises are different, and my suggestion would be to just say to the boy who’s circumcised, “When you were born it was thought that removing the foreskin was better for your health. And now they know that that’s not true, so we decided to leave our younger son intact, and that’s why the two of you are different.” And while that may hurt at first, I think over the years both sons will really respect the parents for making that decision because they gathered new information and based on that they did what they felt was best, in the best interest of their children. So, that’s, I think, the best way to go, or at least one way to go.
Scott Kilian: I think that’s a really good point that you bring up because that is how we made our decisions. We didn’t start with what happened to me in the 70s. It was a blank slate – what’s the information, and how do we make decisions based on information? I think I was telling you beforehand; I started solids pretty early; breastfeeding wasn’t a big deal, at least for my family and things like that. Bu that’s different. We didn’t do the same things with Alex and so…
Jami Ortiz: And that’s another point. As a mother of older children I think it’s important to show my kids that I’m human and I make decisions based on what I know. And sometimes what you know changes. And it’s ok to change your mind on things once you get more information. It’s actually important to absorb the new information and then grow with that.
Johner Riehl: I can certainly say this is an argument for and against it, but you’d hate to leave your other son in a position where you feel like they got the wrong decision made for them. It’s something that can be talked through and worked through no matter what, but I mean it does complicate things as you said, but it shouldn’t require that you have to do exactly what you did before.
Jami Ortiz: Right.
Matthew Hess: Right, and I don’t think it’s worth putting your next child at risk just for that reason.
Johner Riehl: Exactly. I think we’ve really looked at this in a lot of different ways and I’ve learned a few things in this conversation as well. Thanks so much for joining us, Matthew and Jami. We’re actually going to talk a little more to you afterwards; we’ve got a couple of bonus questions for our Parent Savers Club members. We’re going to talk a little bit about how we got to where we are today with circumcision, some of the history – where it started in this country and why. It’s the default to be circumcised now, but it sounds like that’s changing a little bit. If you want any more information about Matthew or his website – we’re going to have links to that on our episode pages. Thanks so much for the conversation, Matthew.
Matthew Hess: Thank you for having me, Johner.
Johner Riehl: Before we wrap things up here’s psychologist Jennifer Schere with some tips on surviving the emotional side of parenting.
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Jennifer Schere: Hello, Parent Savers! I’m Dr. Jennifer Schere, a clinical psychologist with a practice in San Diego. One of my specialties is working with women during pregnancy and throughout the transition to motherhood. Today’s psych min' is about common adjustments couples go through with a new baby. When baby is born it is never again just you and me. The diad expands to a triad. There is often a sense of loss even as there is simultaneous excitement about growing your family. It is helpful to remember that mothers and fathers often experience this transition differently and at different times. Make the transition conscious by talking about it. When baby is born there is a healthy and yet temporary preoccupation on caregiving baby. It is perfectly normal for new moms and dads to be focused on strengthening and defining these roles for themselves. And they are often different. Some men are natural caretakers and want to be very involved in the process. Other men may become very focused on their role as a financial provider. Try to think about where your partner gains steam for this new role as mother or father and try to understand that if the focus or attention on each other is not what you’re used to things are still fine, rather than experiencing these changes as rejection or an indicator that something is wrong. It shows the enormous energy you are both putting into defining brand new parts of yourself. And you’re doing under minimal sleep. And speaking of minimal sleep – sexual intimacy and sleep deprivation are not a very good mix. So try to be gentle with yourselves and trust that you will find a natural rhythm with one another after the hard work of learning your baby’s rhythms are firmly established. Thanks for tuning into Parent Savers. It is my hope that having a greater understanding of common couple adjustments will help to normalize some of the changes that come with the new baby. And keep listening for more episodes on how to thrive as a new parent.
Johner Riehl: That wraps up our show for today. Thank you so much for listening. I do want to remind our listeners who are researching the topic of circumcision that in episode 41 we did speak with Dr. Mohamed Bidair. You should definitely check that on the site to hear his point of view. He is a doctor who performs circumcisions. He talked a lot about what he sees are the health benefits to doing it. Definitely a lot to think about with what we talked about with Matthew today along with Jami and Scott’s perspectives, so thanks again to them for joining us. Don’t forget to check out our sister shows Preggy Pals for expecting parents and our show The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed their babies. Next week we’ll be visiting another great topic that will help empower new parents. Thanks so much for joining Parent Savers.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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