Great question from a Facebook reader (paraphrased):
I have serious concerns regarding my future goal of becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife. I don’t support infant circumcision unless it’s for medical reasons and I’m seeing that many midwifery schools require at least one year of experience in obstetrics. I don’t want to be involved in any way with MGM (male genital mutilation); is that inevitable when working in L&D? Would there be any way around this so I don’t compromise my beliefs?
To my RN & CNM friends, do let me know if your program was different and what, if anything, was done if something came up that was against your beliefs. This is a fantastic question to explore!
First, not sure why you think L&D has anything to do with circumcision because circs are done postpartum. The postpartum RNs are the ones that help in that arena. L&D nurses, unless they're rotating through postpartum, won't have to concern themselves at all with it.
Second, part of the process of nursing and then midwifery school is to expose you to other sides of issues you haven't thought of yet... not because you're stupid, but because you haven't had the opportunity to explore them. I used to be quite the breastfeeding nazi, really believing ALL women could breastfeed and the ones that said they couldn't really weren't trying hard enough. When I had a client tell me she wasn't going to nurse about 20 times and I kept telling her how great it was and how if she just tried, she'd find out how much she'd like it. She finally leaned over and got in my face, telling me she'd been molested and the primary part of her body molested was her breasts and she was going to bottle feed. It was then I realized, not only is breastfeeding a woman's choice, but that sometimes, the most empowering thing a woman can do for herself is to schedule a cesarean/bottle feed/have general anesthesia/etc. Things I wouldn't remotely consider can be the most empowering to a mom.
Now, I know the arguments about circ... very well. I circ'd my first son, but not my second. After studying to become a Jew for 15+ years, I left Judaism behind because of two issues: circumcision and the mikvah (the mikvah's a different story). Yet, we all make choices that affect our child forever. I do believe a family should let the baby make his own choice, but I also know that some families who choose to vaccinate their children live with those consequences... just as the families that choose not to vaccinate have to live with the reality that the decision might mean death to their child. Believing that circumcision is the only time a family should consider letting the grown person make the decision is absurd. Mothers & fathers make decisions for their kids Every. Single. Day.
So, while I believe that, for me, the circumcision decision is best left to the adult person to make and I whole-heartedly believe in educating (NOT terrorizing) parents about the realities of circumcision, I also believe there is a tolerance that can come, not only for allowing parents to make their own decisions about this issue, but that you are able to release the decision-making to the parents about all sorts of issues you disagree with.
For, farrrrrr more often, you will stand in a room with a woman you know has zero business (in your opinion and experience) being induced, but who is choosing to be... with a woman who was bullied into a cesarean... with a woman you are required to counsel to be kept in bed... and the long, long list goes on and on.
(Adding for this post -) Think about the different cultures you’re going to see, the cultures where women are less than the cows on the street. You’ll be assisting at those births. You’ll be there for the births hold religion above all else (hmmm… some types of Judaism, anyone?) and nothing you say would change anyone’s mind, so you know to do your job and leave the religion to the families involved.
I admire your stand... please know I do. But, I encourage offering families some grace and finding a place of peace that parents really are doing the very best they can with the information they have.
(Adding again -) Doctors are not forced to learn to do abortions when it is against their beliefs. As a homebirth midwife, I wouldn’t have accepted a client that had beliefs extremely counter to my own. (They wouldn’t have selected me in the first place, but same thing.) If you were asking if you had to circumcise a baby to get an RN license and is there a way to bypass that requirement, I’d be first in line to help you find a way to avoid that requirement. But, dealing with circumcision as an RN is going to be different than that. Trying to maneuver your education based on a family’s legal choice is almost akin to burying your head in the sand. Please don’t.
Not sure if this helps, but do hope it offered other ways to look at the topic. Much good luck on your path!