My Role as Your Doula and Circumcision

My work as a doula is multifaceted. I provide: 

Emotional support.
Physical support.

My greatest desire is to be a helpful, and trusted addition to your birthing team. A large part of my role as your doula is to respect your body’s innate intelligence and help you advocate for compassionate, individualized, evidence based care. I believe mothers should be educated on their birthing options and then supported in their birthing choices. Nothing brings me more joy than when a mother knows without any doubt that she made all the right choices for her body, her pregnancy, and for her birth. 

As your doula when we sit down to discuss your birthing options, like an epidural or pitocin, we discuss the risks and benefits for those interventions and then I step aside and give you space and respect to make the choice that is right for you. However, when it comes to routine infant circumcision, I would argue, and so would many others, that it's not the parents decision to make. Just as I believe pregnant women are autonomous and their choices for their bodies should be supported, I believe that your baby's body will be born exactly as it should be and that his bodily autonomy should be respected.

I believe that routine infant circumcision is a human rights issue. Recently in Michigan doctors were charged in the first federal genital mutilation case in the United States. Americans were shocked to hear that they had mutilated over one hundred girls. However, many of the arguments cultures use in favor of female genital cutting have been used or are currently used in the United States for routine infant circumcision. 

It's assumed that it's cleaner or that it helps prevent disease. Even worse, historically, circumcision has been used to prevent adolescents from perceived immorality. We know all of these things are myths and propaganda when it comes to the mutilation of the clitoris, but for whatever reason we struggle with seeing the correlation to routine infant circumcision. 

For the first time since I started my doula career, on December 29, 2017, I took a public stance on circumcision. On facebook I gently shared, "In our training we are taught that we should remain unbiased and only give information so that parents can make the right choices for themselves. But I wrestle with the question, 'who is making the right choice for baby?' My heart as your doula is for you to be educated in your options, and then supported in your choices so that you can have the best birth experience possible. My heart as a human being, is that we would respect children's bodies and keep their genitals intact."

I woke up the day after I shared those words to a facebook ban. I was unable to post or even log in to my personal or business facebook accounts. My heart was broken. I was sure that people would hear my heart, and know that my desire was never to abuse or hurt people who have circumcised their child. I reached out to a friend who encouraged me and said, "It can be really hard for people to see stuff like this because they don't want to recognize how they have harmed their sons, how their partners have been harmed, or how they themselves have been harmed." And she's not wrong. 

I don't want to hurt any of my past clients or people that I know and love, and I don't want to jeopardize my business, but I cannot ethically doula for families who plan on circumcising their child. If you are planning to circumcise your child, please take the next half an hour and watch this video. There are some difficult moments in this video, but Ryan McAllister, PhD, uses scientific evidence to address what he calls the "elephant in the hospital" in a way that is easy to understand.

Tamara Niedermann14 Comments