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Does the baby experience pain during the Brit Milah?



Library » Life Cycle » Circumcision » The Brit | Subscribe | What is RSS?


A common misconception is that the baby experiences a great deal of pain from circumcision. In truth, the performance of ritual circumcision is almost painless for the child. In contrast, the method of circumcision practiced in most hospitals today uses a Gamco clamp to crush the skin and seal the blood vessels, giving an almost bloodless circumcision albeit with great pain to the infant.

Ritual circumcision on the other hand, is performed using a finely honed blade of surgical steel (that has an edge comparable to a scalpel) and a non-constricting guard which is placed over the foreskin. The procedure involves the removal of a small piece of skin – no flesh or muscle is cut at all! In addition, it should be noted that the nerves in a newborn on the eighth day are not fully developed.

If this all is true, why then does the infant cry? A newborn will tend to cry as soon as his diaper is opened and he is uncovered. This may be due to a need to feel enclosed or merely due to feeling cold. If one pays careful attention one will see that the baby starts to cry before any procedure has actually been performed. Notice also, that the infant stops crying shortly after the procedure and then usually falls asleep. The discomfort experienced by the infant afterwards is mainly due to the dressing on the wound, which is foreign to the child.

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