We have to say, body art is a beautiful way to celebrate new life and bring your new child into the world. Many expectant mothers and nursing mothers want to celebrate their babies with a tattoo. But should they wait? Or not? The question many ask is can I get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Yes, fresh ink can be exciting, fun, creative, and unique. It is a great way to mark a momentous occasion. But before you start checking Pinterest, Instagram, and social media for inspiration, let’s talk about whether it is safe or not.
We will try to answer all your questions.
Why Do Expectant Mothers Want To Get A Tattoo?
The arrival of a new baby is something worth commemorating. We are all for that. But why the rush? It is understandable you want to mark this awesome event.
Still, there are reasons why you should wait and think before getting ink postpartum. Even more, if you are breastfeeding.
First and foremost, there is a practical and esthetic case. Your body has gone through several transformations in the past year and so, from serious growth to some dramatic weight loss.
Depending on where you want to put your ink, you might want to get your body in shape first, and then commemorate the birth of your baby.
Can You Get A Tattoo While Pregnant?
The big concern about pregnancy and tattoos is safety and health. You might contract an infection, like Hepatitis B or HIV. Your number one priority at this point should be keeping yourself and your baby safe.
This is why you should avoid a tattoo if you are a pregnant woman. The tattooing process can put you at risk of contracting an infection. Even if you choose to go forward with your decision, it is important that you choose a reputable tattoo artist who follows safe tattooing practices.
These practices include wearing gloves, using sterilized and single-use equipment, and having availability for the first 24 hours after the process in case of complications.
If you want a safe alternative, we recommend a henna tattoo. These tattoos are safe and temporary. If the links are natural, you should be fine. Use only shades of brown, orange, or red henna. Black henna contains paraphenylenediamine, an ingredient unsafe for anyone.
Is It Safe To Get A Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
This is the question we asked in the beginning. You probably want to know can I get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Well, every organization in the US linked to pregnancy and pregnant women advise against tattoos for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
No, there is no evidence to suggest that your breast milk will pose a risk to the baby if you get a tattoo. But why risk it? The bigger concern is contracting an infection, a major area of concern.
We also have to note that tattoo ink is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration for injection under the skin. This means that the FDA considers it contains toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and more materials found in paint and printed toner.
Any tattooing process carries potential risks. During the time a tattoo artist applies a tattoo on your skin, this is what happens. Your skin is repeatedly poked with a small needle coated with ink. The ink is deposited in the second layer of your skin, which we know as the dermal layer.
As we said before, inks for tattooing are not approved by the FDA for this use. They contain materials like heavy metals and chemicals found in printer toners and paint.
Here are some of the potential risks:
- Experiencing an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink
- Getting a skin infection with symptoms like irritation, itching, and redness
- Contracting a blood infection like HIV, tetanus, MRSA, or hepatitis C
Complications that can occur can sometimes require treatment that is not compatible with breastfeeding. For example, you cannot use certain medications while breastfeeding, and you might need them to fight an infection or allergic reaction.
Are There Any Benefits Of Getting A Tattoo While Pregnant?
Of course, there are not. Getting a tattoo doesn’t offer any specific benefits to the breastfeeding mom, baby, or the breastfeeding process.
Getting a tattoo is more about a personal choice. It feels personally gratifying or fulfilling. Yes, those feelings are valuable, but you can wait for a while to get them, right?
In the end, if you decide to get ink, we recommend you follow certain safety precautions. Here are some.
- Use a licensed tattoo facility with a good reputation
- Use a tattoo professional who uses clean and sterile materials
- Be mindful about where you place your tattoo, it will take a few weeks to heal and you might feel pain in the area
- Talk to your doctor about specific health conditions that might be affected by your tattoo. For example, blood clotting and autoimmune conditions
- Keep the tattoo site clean while it heals and wash it with soap and water
- Use safe pain-relieving medicines
Yes, it is best to wait until your baby is weaned and past the newborn stage to get a tattoo. But not all parents are willing to wait as much.
How Long After Getting A Tattoo You Can Nurse?
The answer to this question is that you should wait until your baby is 9 to 12 months old and not wholly dependent on breast milk to get a new tattoo.
Does Tattoo Ink Affect Breast Milk?
Ink molecules are too large to pass into breast milk after getting a tattoo. Yet, we also have to consider that tattoo ink can take months and years to break down in the body. There is no way of knowing what is safe and how long after getting a tattoo you can safely nurse your baby.
Is It Safe To Get A Tattoo Removal?
Nowadays, tattoo removal is done easily by laser therapy. The laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to shatter and fragment into smaller particles. These are then picked up by the body’s immune system and filtered through our liver.
The removal process itself is lengthy, taking between 8 and 10 sessions spaced 4-8 weeks apart.
Same as with the tattoo process, the removal poses a risk of infection due to improper aftercare. Also, there is the risk of an allergic reaction to the free ink particles.
There are no studies that show a link or correlation between released ink and any problems. Yet, same as with a tattoo, it is best that mothers wait until their baby is weaned before they undergo a tattoo removal procedure.
Can I Breastfeed If I Have Tattoos?
There are no regulations in place that advise against breastfeeding with tattoos. The placement does not pose any risk to breastfeeding, even if the tattoos are on your breasts.
The ink is unlikely to get into the milk supply. It is sealed under the first layer of your skin. Your baby cannot contact your tattoo ink.
Can You Donate Breast Milk If You Have Tattoos?
Yes, you can donate breast milk, even if your tattoos are recent. This applies only if they were applied using a single-use sterile needle and following the guidelines. If you decide to donate milk to the Human Milk Banking Association of America, they will screen the milk for safety eight days after any new tattoo.
Effects Of Breastfeeding On Tattoos
Here is one thing you will notice. Tattoos you had prior to breastfeeding might change in appearance. This is due to pregnancy weight gain and then weight loss following childbirth.
Your body changes during pregnancy and your skin stretches. This can cause tattoos to stretch and discolor.
Breastfeeding can also cause your breasts to swell and cause temporary distortion of your breast tattoo.