Your newborn’s fresh circumcision site can be painful to look at – and painful to emphatically support as your son expresses just how tender it is.
The good news is that when newborn circumcisions are cared for properly, pain recedes and they heal surprisingly quickly. On average, circumcisions heal completely within 10 days, and most of the pain, inflammation and wound drainage goes away after the first several days.
Keep the circumcision site as clean as possible
When you’re changing his diaper, have a soft damp cloth, warm water and unscented soap formulated for sensitive skin on hand. If any of your baby’s poop is on or near the wound, gently clean it and rinse it, allowing it to air dry completely before putting the new diaper on.
This means you’ll also want to have a soft dry cloth nearby in case baby begins to urinate during the drying phase, and before you’ve secured his diaper, to protect you from being peed on.
To bandage or not to bandage
Most pediatricians apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment to the tip of the penis and wrap it with a small piece of gauze before sending you home. Some prefer that you continue this practice with each diaper change for a few days, others prefer the wound be left open. Follow the advice your pediatrician provides.
If s/she doesn’t recommend keeping the wound covered (increasingly more common) odds are you’ll be told to apply petroleum jelly or a triple-antibiotic ointment regularly to protect it from urine, poop and to facilitate its healing for the first day or two.
Provide lots of comfort that first day or two
While circumcision is a fairly straightforward procedure, it can (understandably!) cause your baby to be uncomfortable or in pain with no way of understanding why. Make sure to spend extra time snuggling with your newborn so he has ample access to your comfort. Breastfeeding can also support the healing process as nursing releases oxytocin, which is a mild pain reliever in addition to being an emotional soother.
Know the signs of infection or a problem
Taking care of the wound is important, but it’s also important that you know the signs of an infection or a circumcision that is not healing as it should. Redness, a little weepy or fluid release (like clear or slightly yellowish, clear ooze) and a wee bit of blood are all normal.
Signs you should check in with the pediatrician include:
- Persistent bleeding (a blood stain on his diaper that is the size of a quarter or larger)
- Redness that increases over time, rather than decreases
- Drainage that is yellow/green, thicker than it was originally
- Foul smelling drainage
- Swelling that doesn’t go away
- Difficulty urinating
- Sores that are crusty
Always call your pediatrician if you notice these or other signs that your son’s circumcision isn’t healing as it should.
Double-diaper and add ice for comfort
Some mothers find their babies seem happier when they’re double diapered. This provides extra padding for the raw and tender circumcision site. For the first day or two, your baby may like to have an ice pack put between the two diaper layers (a Ziploc baggy and ice will suffice) to minimize swelling and discomfort.
Again, most circumcisions heal well within 10 days. After this, the penis shouldn’t require any extra-special care. That being said, you should always clean poop off of the penis, especially from the tip, to minimize your son’s risk of a UTI. If there is still a little of the foreskin left, gently pull it back during bath time to keep the fold(s) clean.
The team at Overlake is here to provide support for women of all reproductive ages, including postpartum mothers who need some support and advice. Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or schedule a consultation.