To: La Leche League
I firmly believe that parents should be made aware of any interventions, including circumcision, that may impact breastfeeding. In the 1981 edition of The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding under a section called "Elective Surgery for You or Your Baby," there was mention of circumcision as well as tubal ligation. However, the LLL omitted it in all subsequent editions, claiming “… circumcision to be outside the realm of our expertise in La Leche League. Other organizations can do a better job of educating parents about circumcision than LLL…” (from this link: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVOctNov00p94.html)
I firmly believe that it's is a hugely relevant breastfeeding issue, & the 1981 edition was neither harsh nor judgmental. I believe that the LLL should reevaluate its official stance and that the text regarding the effects of circumcision on breastfeeding from the 1981 edition of the The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding should be re-inserted into all future editions, failing which I will have to reconsider my support of your organization, and encourage a boycott of this otherwise very useful book. Most lactivists are also intactivists and do not support routine hospital infant circumcision, which is risky, non-therapeutic cosmetic surgery. The LLL has a duty to inform new mothers about the breastfeeding issues that may arise with circumcision. Tell them the truth!
Furthermore, I hereby ask the Board of Directors to issue a policy statement about circumcision’s effects on breastfeeding. As from the LLL'S aforementioned link, “The mother may have questions as to whether or not the separation such a procedure requires will interfere with establishing her milk supply. There can be the issue of trauma to the baby which may result in difficulty comforting the baby enough to get him to nurse. The mother may become anxious, resulting in problems with let-down or the baby picking up on her anxiety.” These are only SOME of the issues that are very likely to arise if a baby is circumcised. Leaders should be able to counsel mothers accordingly.
Text from the 1981 edition of the The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding:
“ELECTIVE SURGERY FOR YOU OR BABY
If you are going to be in the hospital anyway for the birth of your baby, you or you doctor may suggest that you have some other medical matter attended to. Examples of elective surgery for the mother include... stripping the legs of varicose veins or tying the fallopian tubes (tubal ligation). As for the baby, it may be considered almost routine to circumcise boy babies when they are only a few hours or days old. But circumcision is an elective surgery and you have a choice of whether or not to have your baby circumcised. You can also choose to wait a while before having this done. We bring these subjects up because, physically and emotionally, these procedures all take their toll on mother and child. Since they represent elective surgery, their appropriateness at this critical time must be questioned.
Circumcision is as painful a procedure to a newborn as it is to an adult. As a religious rite, circumcision is not performed until the baby is eight days old, when he is less apt to hemorrhage. The reasons given in the past for non-religious, almost routine circumcision of the newborn were generally hygienic and are no longer accepted by many physicians and parents. If you're interested in learning more about this subject, see the Book List at the end of this book.
The most important reason for siding against elective surgery following childbirth is that it interferes with a mother and her new baby being together and getting to know each other. While a mother may feel very good following the birth of her baby, her body nevertheless has some recovering to do. Adding the strain of recovering from a surgical procedure might lessen her enjoyment of these early days with her baby.
In regard to tubal ligation, there can often be an unexpected emotional reaction in the mother. When it dawns on her that the baby in her arms is her last, there may be feelings of deep sadness. It might become difficult for her to keep a normal perspective on her mothering of this baby. She may become exceedingly anxious about doing everything just right.
Whatever the inconvenience you may experience by postponing such operations for you or your baby, it is slight compared to the upheaval such surgery can cause in your life at this time."