Sunday, May 28, 2017

Baby Feeling Pain - Myths and Facts

I just came across this article on chabad.org, and thought I'd give a slightly different perspective on the question of whether the baby feels pain at the bris. The main reason for sharing the following perspective is because I prefer to be a realist and share truth, rather than paint a rosy picture, blaming realities on straw-men, and ignoring the facts-of-life.

I do agree with the article in that we've been doing this for a very long time, and when done right, most babies are fine shortly after the procedure is over. And certainly have no memory of it.

I've written about this subject before - you can search "pain" in my website (this link will do it for you if you're not on a computer or laptop) and you'll get my thoughts on this more spelled out.

But here is the brief version.

FACTS
Anything out of the baby's comfort zone causes a baby to cry. This may include: wearing a diaper, not wearing a diaper, being hungry, being handled for a diaper change, having legs pushed out of fetal position, any kind of pain.

MYTH
Babies nerve endings aren't developed so they don't feel pain.

FACT
Babies feel pain. However, they don't have a very long-term memory. When pain sensation ends, and especially if amicably distracted (otherwise comfortable, eating, etc), crying can stop.

MYTH
Babies are at their prime for clotting on day 8, so the 8th day is the best day to have a bris.

FACT
The 8th day is the best day for a bris because God said so. Clotting factor is irrelevant to pain.

MYTH
A bris is really pain-free because it is a mitzvah.

FACT
A bris is often less painful than a hospital circumcision because the hospital variety utilizes clamps that crush the skin and destroy tissue (from the clamping). Some mohels use a clamp too, so let the customer beware (fwiw, I don't use a clamp). The baby cries when being handled, so the longer he is exposed, subject to metal surgical instruments, and with his legs restrained from being in the fetal position, the more he will cry. Saying he doesn't feel the circumcision in a bris ceremony is a lie.

FINAL POINT
While I'll leave the debate of numbing for a different discussion (search for numbing is here), I think the main points to consider are DEGREE of pain-inducing contact, and the amount of TIME during which baby is subject to the same.

A mohel should not use a clamp, and should work neatly, efficiently, and should be done - start (separating membrane) to finish (bandaging) in 30 seconds. Less contact → less discomfort → less crying baby → happier everyone.

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