Stories of Breastfeeding & Circumcision
Parents often look forward to the early moments of feeding and bonding with a new baby. We dream about the closeness and fulfillment such precious experiences may bring.
Sometimes, situations outside our control can affect a newborn's ability to nurse or take a bottle. One completely avoidable obstacle that often stands in the way of new baby bliss — and feeding success in particular — is circumcision. Individual babies can react differently to the trauma of genital surgery. While some don't have notable problems eating afterward, many do, and these problems have the potential to derail a nursing relationship.
Here, you'll read personal experiences from some of our group members at Your Whole Baby: A Community for Learning. They share their stories in hopes of sparing another parent the circumcision-related feeding struggles they and their sons faced.
My son breastfed just fine his first two days of life. He was circumcised on day 3. After his circumcision, he slept six solid hours and wasn’t very interested in breastfeeding. Because of his decrease in feeding, my milk supply was delayed. He lost too much weight, became dehydrated, and was nearly readmitted to the hospital for fluids. We got back on track with three days of formula supplementation and he breastfed great after that. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t put him through that.
In 2010, I became a mother. N was born at 35 weeks. I was 21 years old and knew nothing about motherhood. I wanted to breastfeed, that's all I knew. N was circumcised at a few days old. From that day forward, our nursing relationship went downhill. N had no energy to nurse, and my supply never really established. After about a month, I dried up. I felt like a failure. The happy part of the story is that my second and third babies are intact! A 4-year-old girl and a 14-month-old boy!
— Vanessa Villalobos German
I am a regret mom to three beautiful boys. I breastfed my third son and he was circumcised the day we left the hospital. He was in a lot of pain and it made latching and feeding impossible. He lost weight and it caused jaundice issues. We did manage to get him back to the breast eventually, and he self-weaned at 21 months. Needless to say, my fourth son is completely intact! Wish I knew then what I know now.
— Jennifer Lehman
My second son was my first I attempted to breastfeed. He was born at 4:10 a.m. and took to nursing beautifully that first day. The next morning (around 8-ish), they took him to circumcise him, and when he came back he refused to latch. I was released by 2 p.m. and was never offered the help of a lactation consultant. I tried to latch and pump for three weeks before I gave into the bottle and formula. It took me FOUR YEARS to realize the connection between the two and now I see just how common it is. How very sad. He's 8 now and I still kick myself over it, but he's happy and healthy. I'm having boy #3 in 3.5 weeks and know better now so I can do things totally different. ❤
— Ashley Marie
My first was born at 8 lbs., completely healthy. He latched right after birth and nursing went great until he got wheeled away to be cut. He NEVER latched again. I tried EVERYTHING!
— Jolene Marie
My husband and I decided to leave our son whole despite the efforts of my MIL to change our minds. My son has problems with sucking skills; he will latch, but not well, and when he’s on he will halfheartedly suck. He often falls off a breast unsatisfied multiple times, and it’s rare that I don’t have to top him off with a bottle of expressed milk.
My breastfeeding journey of eleven weeks and counting is greatly affected by this. I have to pump after every feed to truly help my milk production. Due to his sucking troubles, I’ve tried every product you can imagine to help supply, tried three different breast pumps to make more, and had four consultations with a lactation consultant. She advised me that up to 70 percent of circumcised boys have problems with breastfeeding. We both agree that if we had decided to have him cut, the problems I’m having with his suction would be much worse. I may not have been able to nurse him at all. This is one of many reasons why I’m so happy he’s whole.
— Danielle Perri, California
I am a regret mom and circumcised my son, who was also my firstborn. After the procedure I was told he would be sleepy. He slept for what felt like forever and wouldn’t wake up to breastfeed for 4-5 hours. I wish I could take it all back. When we know better we do better.
— Sarah Petrie
I circumcised my first son. It was probably the worst day ever. His dad had a seizure (grand mal) just watching it, and my poor son was exhausted and in pain for several days to the point he wouldn't eat and I was breastfeeding so it caused some supply issues. I brought my milk production back up, but that was such a tough first month and a half and that could've been avoided. Ugh, it was awful. If only I could go back in time and not do it. I didn’t circumcise my second. He’s almost 1 and we've had 0 issues.
— Nina Plubell
I stopped suckling after I was cut and never started again. My son is intact and suckled for 12 months.
— Keith Rutter
My oldest son was born at 36 weeks 6 days. He had no issues latching the first two days of his life. The day we were to be discharged he was circumcised. He came back a different baby. Would latch for a minute and then pull off screaming. I was told, after he lost some weight and became jaundiced, that I would need to supplement with formula. He wouldn't latch so I pumped and that ended by the time he was 3 months. My second son is almost 18 months, intact and still nursing. We have had zero issues.
This is my oldest son now at 4 years old. ❤
My son was nursing great until he was circumcised. Afterwards he refused to latch. I didn't want to give him a bottle so I pumped and fed him little drops with a medicine syringe. He wouldn't nurse for around 24 hours after the circumcision.
— Amanda Shepard
Submit Your StorY
You are invited to submit your story of how circumcision affected your breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding experience for display on this webpage. (If you would like to include a photo of you and/or your child, please email the file to [email protected])