Is It Safe To Get A Tattoo While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Gone are the days when getting some ink was considered to be taboo for women, especially mothers. Nowadays, there are whole websites and Pinterest boards filled with gorgeous tattoo ideas for mothers and even mothers-to-be to celebrate everything from childbirth to whatever your passion happens to be. But you might be wondering if getting a tattoo while pregnant or breastfeeding is safe. Here is what you need to know.

One important thing to note is that there has been almost no scientific study done on tattoos and pregnancy and breastfeeding. Part of the reason for that is because of the ethics surrounding what expecting mothers should or should not be exposed to. The information available on safety is largely based on medical expertise with regard to potential risk factors such as exposure to infection.

Here’s what else you should know about getting a tattoo while pregnant or breastfeeding:

Infection

The biggest concern with getting a tattoo during pregnancy or breastfeeding is the risk of infection, however low it may be. Infections of the highest concern are HIV, MRSA, and Hepatitis B and C. Other kinds of infections can occur during the skin’s healing process. There is also a remote but real risk of infection from ink being exposed to bacteria and germs before being injected into your skin. And while that may be a long shot, there are cases of this happening.

If you were to get an infection from a tattoo then you might be prescribed certain medications to combat the infection and those medications may ultimately be unsafe if you are breastfeeding.

Stretching Skin and Henna

During pregnancy, your skin will stretch. And stretch. And stretch. If you are thinking about where to get a tattoo, keep in mind that whatever shape your body is during pregnancy will dramatically change during the postpartum period. It might be worth testing out a tattoo idea with henna ink, which is temporary and just as beautiful. Most henna is available in shades of reds, deep oranges, and browns and can last for several weeks at a time before they naturally fade.

Epidurals and Breastmilk

One cause for concern, although unfounded by any studies at this point, is that tattoo ink can be pushed into the spinal cord during an epidural. Doctors are concerned enough about this because of how little they know about what would happen so they don’t advise expecting mothers to get a tattoo until after delivery. If you already have a back tattoo, don’t worry too much about it but do have a frank conversation with your doctor about what that will mean when it comes time to have an epidural.

Some will say that tattoo ink can “break loose” and travel to your breasts, spoiling breastmilk. That is extremely unlikely. Tattoo ink is injected into the first layer of skin where it stays put. Even if you got a tattoo on your breast, it is still incredibly unlikely that any ink would make it into your breastmilk.

If you decide to get a tattoo while pregnant or breastfeeding then there are some precautions that you should definitely consider before you book an appointment for some fresh ink.

Precautions to Take

  • Only use a licensed tattooist and make sure to ask about how they sterilize their tools and materials.
  • Think about where you want your tattoo and remember that it will take a few weeks to heal, meaning it will be tender if not sore at first.
  • Talk to your doctor before you get the tattoo to make sure you have a plan in case of infections.
  • Follow all of the directions on how to properly care for your new tattoo while it heals.

When to Call a Doctor

If you get a tattoo and you experience any of the following then call your doctor right away.

  • Fever
  • Fever and chills
  • Raised, hardened skin
  • Puss or bleeding from the tattoo site
  • Red lesions
  • Swelling on or around the tattoo site

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