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Having a baby is a milestone that you may want to celebrate by getting a tattoo, but can you get a tattoo when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?
In both cases, it is recommended you wait. When it comes to getting a tattoo while pregnant, the main concern is getting a serious infection such as Hepatitis B or HIV from a dirty needle. Yes, if you go to a reputable tattoo parlour, the risk is small, but waiting removes any risk.
Getting a tattoo while breastfeeding is a little more complicated.
Is it Safe to Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
Not a lot of research has been done on tattoos while breastfeeding but there are a few things you need to consider before getting inked during this time.
1. Your Transforming Body
In the last nine months, your body has done some serious growing to accommodate the baby inside you. Now that you’ve given birth, it is going to shrink down again in the months to come.
Considering this, it may be best for you to wait until you have your pre-pregnancy body back before sitting for a tattoo. This is recommended especially if you plan on placing the design on your tummy, side, back, or thighs—all the fleshy bits where you stored some extra fat during your pregnancy.
You’ll be happier with your results if you postpone getting a tattoo for a few months.
2. Risk of Infection
We touched on why you can’t get a tattoo while pregnant: infection. The same applies to breastfeeding. Although it’s not likely, we’re taking a “just in case” approach. Your body is more susceptible to infection after giving birth.
Not only has it gone through a lot of physical changes in the last nine months, but it’s also still working very hard to produce food for your baby and slowly reverting back to normality. Add to that the fact that you’re sleep-deprived, tired, may be a little malnourished since the baby is stealing all your nutrients, and it is no wonder that your body isn’t as strong and healthy as it used to be.
The last thing you want to do is open the door for some nasty bacteria to enter. And we’re not just talking about Hepatitis or HIV—a new tattoo is an open wound that can become infected. If that happens, there is a possibility that the infection could spread to your baby through breastmilk.
3. Your Tattoo Will Take Longer to Heal
This builds on the previous point. A lot of healing happens behind the scenes after giving birth. If you decide to get a tattoo while you’re recovering from having a baby, including while you’re still breastfeeding, you’re adding more injury for your body to deal with.
That’s why postpartum tattoos may take much longer to heal than those done long after your body has healed and returned to its normal state. Tattoos that take long to heal usually don’t look as vibrant, so it is best to wait or risk the possibility of sitting with ink you’re not happy with.
4. Tattoo Aftercare Takes Time
Caring for a newborn baby takes a lot of work. New mommies usually get so busy looking after their baby, they forget about themselves entirely. That is the last thing you want to do when you have a fresh tattoo.
Correct tattoo aftercare is vital if you want to prevent infection and scarring, and lock in color to ensure long-lasting vibrancy. Since time is in short supply when you’re caring for a tiny little human, you may end up neglecting your tattoo aftercare, which is less than desirable.
It’s also good to keep in mind that tattoos must be covered and protected from friction, which is impossible if you’re dealing with a fidgety baby and the ink is on your arm, for example.
5. It May Affect Your Milk Supply
If you happen to get an infection or experience an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink, the medication your doctor gives you could negatively affect the amount of milk you produce. This is a major cause for concern, especially if you’ve had your mind set on breastfeeding for as long as you can.
Getting a Tattoo While Breastfeeding: Safety Precautions
There have been instances where ink got tainted with bacteria or allergens. Although this happens rarely, it is something you should keep in the back of your mind when you decide if you want to wait to get a tattoo or go while you’re still breastfeeding.
The fact of the matter is that tattoo inks aren’t heavily regulated and then there’s the issue of counterfeit inks on the market that contains who knows what.
This brings us to the first of our safety precautions…
Only Use Licensed and Reputable Tattoo Artists
For the most part, it’s easy to spot which tattoo shops are scrupulous about hygiene and cleanliness. Professionals will always have an autoclave in their shop to sterilize equipment, they’ll always use new and unopened gloves, bandages, ink cups, ink, etc. but most importantly, new needles.
Artists in the U.S. have regulations for tattoo artists and shops to adhere to. It’s up to you to do your due diligence and find an artist with a good reputation and high health and safety standards. Also, check that they don’t have any violations from the health department.
After finding someone you feel comfortable with, tell them that you’re breastfeeding. Some artists won’t tattoo you during this time; be upfront with them from the start. You’ll also need to sign a legal waiver at some shops if you want to get a tattoo while breastfeeding.
Have a Chat With Your Doctor
Your healthcare provider will be able to guide you when it comes to how getting a tattoo while breastfeeding may affect you or your baby. They know your health history and know about any complications you may have had during your pregnancy and how it may impact your decision.
Yes, getting a tattoo while breastfeeding is a low-risk activity, but that doesn’t mean it is a risk you should take. Your baby may have specific vulnerabilities that you’re not aware of. It’s best to have a chat with your doctor and see what they think is best.
You also have to know that if you do get infected with HIV that you can transmit it to your baby via breastfeeding. Furthermore, if your nipples become dry, crack, and start bleeding during nursing, you can transmit Hepatitis and HIV.
Although there is no definite answer to the question, “Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding or pregnant?” it is best to approach it with caution.
We understand that the arrival of a new family member is something a lot of people want to commemorate with ink—it’s an awesome event! But you may want to think before you ink, especially while you’re still breastfeeding.
Waiting until after your baby is weaned is the safest option. If you do, however, weigh the pros and cons and decide to get a tattoo while pregnant or breastfeeding, find a trustworthy artist who is known for their clean and hygienic workspace.