Maybe you want to get a tattoo to celebrate your new baby, to honor someone you’ve loved and lost, or just because you feel like it. (Maybe you put it off during pregnancy, and now you’re itching to get some new ink.) But can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding? Is it safe? Or is it best left until your baby is weaned?
We’re talking all things tattoos and breastfeeding right here.
In this article: 📝
- Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
- Is it safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
- Can you get a tattoo removed if you’re breastfeeding?
- Can you breastfeed your baby if you already have a tattoo?
- Getting a tattoo and breastfeeding: The last word
Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
The simple answer is: Yes, if you want to, and if you weigh up the pros and cons and decide it’s right for you.
There are no rules against getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, and no major medical bodies have said you shouldn’t. (Though the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health does advise against it.)
But, basically, no research has been carried out into whether or not getting a tattoo while breastfeeding poses a risk to you or your baby.
As far as we know, the safety concerns are very similar to when you’re not breastfeeding.
That is, there’s a possibility of contracting an infection or having an allergic reaction to the ink (more on this below).
However, you might find that a tattoo shop will be reluctant to ink you if they know you’re breastfeeding.
They may be worried that you’re at increased risk of infection (even though there’s no evidence to suggest that’s the case), so they might ask you to sign a legal waiver before going ahead with the tattoo.
Is it safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
As we mentioned above, there’s no evidence of any particular risk to you or your baby from getting a tattoo while breastfeeding.
To create your tattoo, the tattoo artist will use a handheld machine with needles coated in ink.
The ink is injected into the second (dermal) layer of your skin and is then trapped there.
That means it doesn’t have any contact with your baby.
Plus, it’s unlikely that any particles of ink will make their way into your breast milk.
But there are still some potential risks attached to getting a tattoo:
- Allergic reaction. It’s possible that you could have an allergic reaction to the ink after getting a tattoo. Plus, it’s worth bearing in mind that the ink used in tattooing isn’t approved by the FDA for injection under the skin, and can contain substances such as heavy metals and the kinds of chemicals used in printer toner.
- Skin infection. The skin in the area of the tattoo could get infected. Signs of infection include redness, itching, irritation, and pus. A skin infection is more likely to happen if you don’t follow the aftercare routine for your tattoo. (But that can be harder to manage when you’ve got a baby to take care of.)
- Blood infection. There’s a risk of contracting a blood infection, such as Hepatitis B or C, and HIV if your tattoo artist doesn’t follow standard safety precautions (including sterilizing their equipment and using single-use needles). These infections could impact your baby, too. HIV can be passed on through breast milk, and Hepatitis may be passed on to your baby if your nipples are cracked and bleeding.
Another possible issue is that if you were to pick up an infection, not all treatments would be safe for you to have at the same time as breastfeeding.
Safety precautions if getting a tattoo while breastfeeding
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to make getting a tattoo safer. Here are our tips:
- Check-in with your doctor. If you have a compromised immune system or you’re at a higher risk for infections—or if you’re just concerned about tattoo safety in general—chat to your doctor before deciding to get inked.
- Choose the site of the tattoo carefully. Go for an area of your body that your baby won’t be rubbing up against when you hold them to breastfeed. That will help reduce the risk of your tattoo becoming irritated while it’s healing.
- Do your research. Make sure you pick a licensed tattoo shop or artist with a good reputation. Check that they follow all the right health and safety rules.
- Take care of your new tattoo. Follow the aftercare routine recommended by your tattoo artist. Usually, this will involve washing the area regularly with water and a mild cleanser and protecting it from the sun.
Can you get a tattoo removed if you’re breastfeeding?
Tattoo removal is carried out using a laser, which causes the pigment of your tattoo to break up into smaller particles.
These particles can then be scooped up by your immune system and taken to your liver, which filters them out of your body.
The removal process can be pretty long—you might be looking at eight to 10 sessions spaced four to eight weeks apart—depending on the size of the tattoo.
But is it safe when you’re breastfeeding? Well, just like with getting a tattoo in the first place, there are no clear answers here.
We don’t know whether the smaller particles of pigment that have been “released” from the tattoo can pass into your breast milk or what effect that might have on your baby.
No research has been carried out into this.
Because of the uncertainty, it’s often recommended that you wait until after you’ve stopped breastfeeding to have a tattoo removed.
Can you breastfeed your baby if you already have a tattoo?
Yes, you can absolutely breastfeed your baby if you already have a tattoo (or several), even if you have tattoos on your breasts.
The ink is trapped in the dermal layer of your skin and won’t have any contact with your baby.
It’s also unlikely that any ink particles will get into your milk supply.
Getting a tattoo and breastfeeding: The last word
Ultimately, there’s no solid evidence that getting a tattoo while breastfeeding poses any risk to you or your baby—beyond the usual risks that anyone getting a tattoo needs to consider.
So take your time making a decision, weigh up the pros and cons, and chat to your doctor if you need to.
And you can always ask the other mamas on Peanut about their experiences, too.
Hey, maybe you’ll even get some inspiration for a new tattoo design—for when the time is right. 🐬🐉🦋
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