Imagine you’ve just come across the perfect inspo for a new tattoo. Just as you were going to make your appointment you suddenly remembered that you’re pregnant! You’re probably thinking about all the things you can’t do during pregnancy like smoke weed, eat sushi and drink alcohol. However, you’re not sure about tattoos. So, can you get a tattoo while pregnant? Here is what the experts say.

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Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?

Technically you can but it’s not advised. Some tattoo parlors won’t even perform the procedure. But why?

Well, there is always a risk of getting a tattoo. For example, according to WebMD, you may contract diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV. These diseases will affect both you and the baby. 

Speaking of diseases, according to Insider, 0.5% to 6% of people get an infection from getting inked. The risk is even higher during pregnancy because you’re immune system is suppressed. The article also points out that the ink may be contaminated with bacteria which poses a risk to both you and the fetus. 

In addition to that, some tattoo inks have heavy metals which can harm the developing fetus. 

Also, if you’re planning on getting an epidural maybe skip the back tats for now. According to WebMD, “If your tattoo appears to have red, scaly skin or is infected, leaking fluid, or still healing, your doctor would likely not give you an epidural.”

Finally, remember your body changes while pregnant. So, if you get a tattoo while pregnant there is a chance it will look very different afterward. You may also find that your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and so tattoos may feel different. Insider mentioned that you could be in more pain and experience even more itching.

Does getting a tattoo while pregnant affect the baby?

There is a chance the tattoo could affect your baby. In one instance, certain diseases can pass from the mother to the baby during pregnancy.  According to WebMD, Hepatitis B and C can pass from mother to child during pregnancy. If the fetus contracts hepatitis B, 90% of them will live with a lifelong infection. Unfortunately, 25% of them will die from complications of the infection. 

The good news is, according to Insider, disease transmission in the US is pretty low. 

We mentioned that tattoo inks with heavy metals could harm the developing fetus but not how. According to WebMD, some heavy metals found in tattoo ink are mercury, arsenic, and lead. WebMD says, “Exposure to heavy metals can affect your baby’s brain development. It can also increase your chances of having a miscarriage or stillbirth.”

Finally, there are some medications you may need to take that aren’t encouraged during pregnancy. For instance, if your tattoo gets infected you may need antibiotics. However, according to Baby Center, some antibiotics aren’t fully greenlit for pregnancy and may pose a risk to the fetus. 

Even medications for skin conditions that may pop up after the tattoo session may cause a problem for the fetus. According to Medical News Today, “Corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms of some reactions, but these medicines may not be safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.”

Getting Tattooed While Pregnant Tips 

Although we definitely do not recommend it, if you want to get tatted during pregnancy anyways, here is how you can minimize risks:

  • Make sure the tattoo parlor is not only clean but uses fresh needles and sterilization techniques. The ink should even be poured in single use containers to be safe.
  • Your state should have some requirements for tattoo parlors, see if the one you want to use is following protocol. 
  • Inquire about the components of the ink. Avoid those that use heavy metals or other chemicals you may be allergic to. 
  • Location is important. Avoid places that stretch during pregnancy and the lower back.
  • Practice great tattoo aftercare to prevent infection. Tattoos take varying times to heal but require care throughout the process. Your tattoo artist should give you specific instructions to follow. 
  • Remember to tell the artist if you’re pregnant, as some won’t want to do the procedure. 

Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

There are many things off limits when breastfeeding too. For example, smoking weed while breastfeeding is a no-no.

According to the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, tattoos should be avoided during breastfeeding.

However, Healthline states that there is no evidence about increased risks during breastfeeding. 

Many of the same risks of tattoos during pregnancy apply to getting tattoos during breastfeeding. For example, you may contract certain diseases. Diseases such as HIV passes through breast milk. 

Healthline mentions that certain medications may be incompatible with breastfeeding and so you should exercise caution. 

Finally, the placement of a tattoo is important even after you give birth. According to Healthline, “Think about how you hold the baby when breastfeeding and whether the baby will rub against the tattoo site.”

If you still want to get a tattoo, exercise the same precautions that you would use during pregnancy and otherwise. 

Conclusion

Can you get a tattoo while pregnant? There are certain risks involved and so it’s best to err on the side of caution. Some tattoo parlors won’t even do the procedure. If you’re breastfeeding, you still may be denied service. However, give the same considerations to tattooing that you would while pregnant. Weigh the risks and benefits and don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. Arming yourself with information is the best way to make a decision. 

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