The best idea for a tattoo just popped into your head but then you suddenly remember, you’re breastfeeding. It can feel like there are so many rules surrounding what you cannot and cannot do during breastfeeding. For example, you’re not supposed to smoke weed while breastfeeding. However, could the rules for tattoos be different? Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

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Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

There is conflicting information on this. 

On the one hand, Healthline states that no medical organization or governing body has come out against getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. There also isn’t research highlighting the negative effects of breastfeeding and getting tattoos. 

On the other hand, The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health says that you shouldn’t get a tattoo if you’re breastfeeding. However, they didn’t really give a reason why they thought so. 

At the same time, some tattoo parlors won’t do your tattoo while you’re breastfeeding or ask you to sign a legal waiver. Healthline speculates that this may be about the perception of increased risk.

The Risks Associated With Getting a Tattoo While Breastfeeding 

There is always a risk of getting a tattoo whether you are pregnant, breastfeeding or otherwise. 

The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health and Healthline highlighted these potential complications: 

  • Contracting diseases from the needles. You may be at risk for HIV or Hepatitis B.
  • Scar tissues forming such as keloids
  • Infection at the tattoo site which rarely may reach into the blood
  • Having an allergic reaction to the inks. These inks aren’t regulated and could have heavy metals in them. 

Breastfeeding could provide unique circumstances. For example, if you do experience any of the complications, the treatment may not be compatible with breastfeeding. Just like pregnancy, some medication cannot be taken when breastfeeding. 

Healthline also mentioned that if you get HIV from the tattooing process, you may pass it on to your baby.

In addition to that, postpartum bodies are more susceptible to infections. What To Expect mentions that your immune system may be weakened from sleep deprivation, and the physical and mental exertion of caring for a newborn.

What to Expect says that getting a tattoo could delay your healing post-baby.

“Adding the injury of a tattoo (which punctures your skin, causes some bleeding and considerable pain) could hold up your overall recovery.”

They also noted that your tattoo may take longer to heal. 

In addition to that, caring for a tattoo is another thing to add to your plate when you’re caring for a newborn.

Reducing the Risks of Getting a Tattoo

There are several ways you could reduce the risks surrounding tattoos such as:

  • Pick a tattoo parlor that is clean and follow proper procedure. Look for parlors that use sterilized needles or single use needles, and keep their shop as germ free as possible. Following this rule could reduce your risk of disease and infection. 
  • Be on top of your tattoo aftercare so that it can heal properly. The basics of it include cleaning it everyday. Your tattoo artist will be able to give you detailed instructions. 
  • Tell your doctor about your concerns especially if you have certain health conditions.

Can Tattoo Ink Make It Into Breast Milk?

According to Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician from Baby Center, no. Burgert says, “Tattoo ink is too large a molecule to make it into breast milk, so your baby has no way of being exposed to it.”

La Leche League International agrees that the molecules are too big to pass. However, they raised the concern that molecules may break down within months to years. They aren’t certain whether or not that those smaller fragments will pass into the breast milk. 

That’s why La Leche League International suggests holding off on your tattoo. They said “It is suggested that mothers wait at least until 9-12 months after birth, when the child is no longer dependent solely on breastmilk before getting a tattoo.”

Can You Get a Tattoo Removed While Breastfeeding?

When you do laser treatment to remove tattoos, the ink is broken down and flushed out by your body. 

It’s not confirmed whether or not these particles will make it into your breastmilk. For that reason, some laser clinics will pause your tattoo removal during breastfeeding to be on the safe side. 

Therefore, it’s advised to wait until you’re done breastfeeding to start or continue with tattoo removal. 

Breastfeeding Tattoo Conclusion

While there is no concrete evidence that getting a tattoo while breastfeeding will harm your baby, it’s not advised. The reason it’s not advised is that there is no definitive proof of whether or not it’s safe. To be on the safe side you can wait until you’ve completed breastfeeding. However, if you still want to be tattooed there are ways to reduce the known risks to your body.

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