If you've decided to have your baby boy circumcised, there are a few simple steps you can follow at home to make sure your son is left happy and healthy, post-procedure. Whether the circumcision is done by a mohel or doctor, it is still considered a minor surgery, and properly caring for the newly-circumcised penis can greatly reduce the risk of any complications.
Keep in mind, however, that there is some debate over the best way to care for your freshly snipped son. Every mohel has a method, and when you throw doctors, and for heaven's sake, grandparents into the mix, the guidelines and advice will almost always vary. Whoever performs the circumcision should provide you with a guide on proper follow-up care. This is the best place to start, and should any questions come up along the way, don't hesitate to contact your doctor or mohel. And fret not, newly frazzled parents--the baby typically only takes a week to 10 days to heal.
To Gauze or Not to Gauze
There is a divide in circumcision wisdom about whether or not to cover a baby's newly-circumcised penis with any kind of bandage or dressing. It seems that either way you choose, the baby will heal just fine, but you can always ask for your doctor's opinion. If given the green light to gauze, dab just a drop of petroleum jelly (too much can attract bacteria) onto the tip of the penis and gently wrap in gauze or a bandage. Change this dressing whenever you change the diaper until the baby is fully healed. If you choose not to use a dressing, it is still recommended to dab a little petroleum jelly onto the tip of the penis every time you change the baby's diaper for the first day or so, to avoid any uncomfortable skin irritation. For the first couple of days, you can also loosely put the diaper on your baby to limit pressure on the wound.
The most important part of caring for your newly circumcised baby is to make sure the wound and penis are kept as clean as possible. Every time you change his diaper, thoroughly wipe away any stool or urine clinging to the penis. If there is stool in the diaper, it is recommended to gently wash the whole area with warm water and an unscented soap that has no harsh ingredients. (If there is just urine, simply change the diaper and gauze if you are using it). Thoroughness and gentleness are the winning pair; avoid any overenthusiastic rubbing and scrubbing.
What's Normal, and What's Not
There are many common symptoms that your baby may experience after being circumcised. Most of them are completely normal and should go away within the standard healing time. Some can be signs of something more serious, and if found, you should contact a doctor immediately. Keep a close watch on your baby during the days after circumcision to make sure he is healing properly.
-Tip of the penis is red, bruised, or slightly swollen during first few days
-Small amounts of blood in diaper (drops should be quarter-sized or smaller)
-Yellow oozing or scabbing (this means it's healing!)
Contact your doctor immediately if any of the following occur:
-Persistent bleeding from wound or drops of blood larger than a quarter found in diaper
-Crusty fluid-filled sores
-Trouble urinating (ask your doctor or mohel how many wet diapers a day to expect)
-Redness and swelling that worsens after three days and remains after seven days
After the seven to 10 day healing process, your baby is just that--healed. His penis will no longer require any extra special attention, but of course you should continue to thoroughly clean all areas of his body with gentle care.