Keen to get inked up to commemorate your little one’s imminent arrival? Or do you just fancy a new piece of artwork on your body? The big question is: can you get a tattoo while pregnant?
Unlike eating shrimp or drinking alcohol (which are best avoided during pregnancy), there is no strict rule on getting a tattoo while pregnant.
In fact, the health risks associated with combining pregnancy and tattooing are generally lower.
With the highest rates of tattoos happening among women in their twenties (a cool 29.4%), this bodes well for any ink-loving mama-to-be.
And while not the riskiest behavior to indulge in during pregnancy, more than asking can you get a tattoo while pregnant, it’s worth asking is it safe to get a tattoo while pregnant?
After all, you’ve got an extra human to worry about, and it’s best to be sure about what you’re letting yourself in for.
So here’s all you need to know about getting a tattoo while pregnant.
Just remember, though: once you’ve given birth, you can get all the ink you want without any worry.
Your body is a temple after all, so why not decorate the walls?
In this article: 📝
- Can you get a tattoo while pregnant?
- Potential risks of getting a tattoo while pregnant
- What happens if I get a tattoo while pregnant?
- Can getting a tattoo while pregnant cause a miscarriage?
- Does tattoo ink affect pregnancy?
- Can getting a tattoo affect a future pregnancy?
- Can you get tattoo removal while pregnant?
- Will a tattooist tattoo a pregnant woman?
- Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
- How soon after pregnancy can you get a tattoo?
- What should you not do while you’re pregnant?
Can you get a tattoo while pregnant?
So, can pregnant women get tattoos?
While it’s not advised, getting tattooed is not something that’s explicitly said that pregnant people can’t do.
However, general medical advice is to avoid tattoos while pregnant, primarily due to the risk of infection and the potential levels of heavy metals (like mercury, arsenic, and lead) in some tattoo inks.
Because they are considered a cosmetic product by the FDA, tattoo ink dyes are not well regulated.
And rare as it may be, the FDA has reported several cases of ink being recalled due to adverse reactions and microbial contamination.
These risks can affect both you and baby, so our advice is not to get that tattoo while pregnant just yet ‒ hold off until baby makes their grand entrance.
Can you get a small tattoo while pregnant?
The general consensus is not to get a tattoo of any size during pregnancy.
Though getting in a tiny tattoo while pregnant seems like the safer option — especially for hardcore tattoo lovers — there is always a risk of infection or metal poisoning from tattoo inks for mother and baby.
Can you get a tattoo on your arm while pregnant?
It’s not recommended to get a tattoo anywhere on your body while pregnant — even a womb tattoo.
No matter where on your body you get tattooed, there is potential for infections or metal poisoning passing into your bloodstream through to baby.
Potential risks of getting a tattoo while pregnant
As we said, there is no cut-and-dry medical rule when it comes to getting tattoos while pregnant.
You can, but with a baby on the way, the best strategy for would-be mamas is to play it safe.
While they’re pretty uncommon, here are some of the things that are risky about getting tattoos during pregnancy.
One of the main risks of getting a tattoo – while pregnant or otherwise – is infection.
Hepatitis B and C, and even HIV, for example, can spread through infected blood on needles that haven’t been sterilized or properly cleaned.
Of course, the risk of getting an infection from a tattoo while pregnant is pretty small.
Studies have put the chance of infection from tattoos at as low as 0.5%.
And, in licensed, regulated parlors, this should be even lower.
Strain and stress
You’ve got a lot on your plate.
As any mama will tell you, your body, while pregnant, can do all sorts of unexpected things and show lots of weird and wonderful symptoms – both emotional and physical.
In this context, adding the physical pain of tattooing while pregnant – as well as the open wound – might be more than you and your immune system would like to handle.
And you may find that sitting in an uncomfortable position while the tattooist gets to work isn’t much fun, either.
But you may well be made of stern stuff ‒ you’re the best person to know how much you can take when getting a tattoo while pregnant.
A cool new tat might look perfect in your first trimester.
However, depending on where you get it, it may change shape a little once you’re in the later stages of pregnancy.
Some stretch marks are a given – particularly around your abdomen, thighs, and boobs – and these can mess with your designs.
While this isn’t something that will harm the little one if you get a small tattoo while pregnant, it’s something that you might want to bear in mind before getting any intricate inkwork done.
There’s a lot of chat around about back tattoos getting in the way of epidurals.
The worry is that the needle could push inked skin inside you – and could cause some problems.
While the evidence for this is sparse, some anesthesiologists might be reluctant to give you an epidural if the tattoo on your back is still fresh.
It’s worth talking to your doctor about this beforehand.
Types of tattoo ink
Certain types of tattoo ink contain heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, and mercury, which can be harmful to both you and baby if you decide to get a tattoo while pregnant.
Before getting your tattoo ‒ while pregnant or not ‒ speak to your tattoo artist about what the ingredients are in the ink they plan to use.
If they’re not sure what’s in them, it’s best to give it a miss, just in case.
You’ll want to choose somewhere reputable for your tattoo during pregnancy who knows exactly what’s in the products and ink they use.
What happens if I get a tattoo while pregnant?
So now you know the minimal risks, you may be wondering when can pregnant women get tattoos?
More specifically, you may be wondering what is the better stage of pregnancy to update your ink.
Can you get a tattoo while pregnant in the 1st trimester?
Early pregnancy may seem like the opportune time to get a new tattoo, but it’s actually the most critical time to avoid it.
While your baby bump may be small, the first twelve weeks of pregnancy is a highly important stage when the fetus begins forming organs.
The risks may be minimal, but it’s best not to increase any potential for infection during the organogenesis stage.
What happens if you get a tattoo while 4 weeks pregnant?
Some people don’t know they’re pregnant for quite a few weeks into their pregnancy.
If you’ve unknowingly had a tattoo while 4 weeks pregnant, try not to fret.
While they are there, the risk of infection and heavy metal poisoning is small.
If you’re worried at all, you can always speak with your doctor.
Can you get a tattoo while pregnant 2nd trimester?
It’s not recommended to get a tattoo while in your second trimester of pregnancy, no.
While the risks of infection and heavy metal poisoning are small, they are something to be aware of, and while pregnant, you may be more susceptible to infection.
Interestingly, according to a few recent studies, the chances of infection from a tattoo can range anywhere from 0.5% to 6% ‒ that’s a pretty big range, but it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Can you get a tattoo while pregnant 3rd trimester?
Technically, you can get a tattoo while pregnant in your third trimester, but it’s not advised.
The risk of infection and heavy metal poisoning is still present, no matter what point in your pregnancy, which can put you and baby at risk.
If you absolutely must, it’s best to re-book your appointment for about the 9 month mark.
Can getting a tattoo while pregnant cause a miscarriage?
Generally speaking, there hasn’t been a link made between getting a tattoo while pregnant and pregnancy loss.
However, there is a link between heavy metals and pregnancy loss ‒ and there is a small chance that the ink your tattoo parlor uses contains trace amounts of these heavy metals.
Speak to your doctor and your tattoo parlor before getting a tattoo during pregnancy, just to be sure.
Does tattoo ink affect pregnancy?
Unfortunately, yes, some tattoo inks can cause problems for your pregnancy, particularly if they’re known to contain heavy metals like mercury and lead.
And according to recent studies like this one and this one, even tattoo inks that say they don’t may still contain high enough levels to cause heavy metal poisoning, particularly for your baby.
It’s also possible to have allergic reactions to the ink, which may cause an itchy or swollen rash.
You might not want this on top of any other pregnancy side effects, so it could be worth putting off your pregnancy tattoo until after birth.
Can tattoos cause birth defects?
Generally speaking, no, tattoos while pregnant don’t cause birth defects.
However, while there aren’t any recorded cases of birth differences caused by tattooing while pregnant, there is a link between heavy metals and birth differences — which some tattoo inks are known to have.
If you’re unsure, chat with your healthcare provider before you get inked up.
Can getting a tattoo affect a future pregnancy?
There aren’t any known cases of getting tattoos before pregnancy affecting your baby or your health while pregnant.
There has been a study into tattoos and fertility by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which suggests that some of the ingredients of tattoo ink could impact your reproductive health.
Still, there doesn’t seem to be any clear proof that tattoos affect fertility.
If you already have a tattoo while pregnant, you may also notice that its color and shape could change with your changing body, which can sometimes be permanent.
If you notice any irritation or redness around your existing tattoo during pregnancy, it’s best to speak to your doctor.
Can you get tattoo removal while pregnant?
How about if you decide you’re not so keen on your existing tattoo during pregnancy?
While there aren’t any studies to say whether it’s definitively safe or not to have a tattoo removal while pregnant, the general consensus is that it’s best to avoid it.
Your skin is likely to be more sensitive during pregnancy, and an irritating procedure like laser tattoo removal could cause unwanted discomfort.
Will a tattooist tattoo a pregnant woman?
It depends on the tattoo artist.
Some will choose to avoid tattooing a pregnant woman ‒ the risks of fainting and allergies are increased during pregnancy ‒ but some will be willing to tattoo pregnant women.
If you’re looking into tattoo artists while pregnant, you must tell them that you are pregnant ‒ it’s up to them if they proceed from there.
Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Getting a tattoo while breastfeeding isn’t ideal because of the potential for allergic reactions, skin infections, and blood infections — the risk being any infection can affect the nutrients in your breast milk.
And some infections have the potential to be passed on to baby, too.
The Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health advises against getting a tattoo while pregnant or breastfeeding.
And while there aren’t nearly enough studies being carried out on the risk of infection or heavy metal poisoning if someone gets a tattoo while breastfeeding, it can be better to again err on the side of caution.
It’s best to book your appointment for when you’re planning on stopping breastfeeding.
How soon after pregnancy can you get a tattoo?
It depends on whether you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby.
If you’re not planning on breastfeeding, then feel free to get a tattoo whenever you’re feeling up to it, once baby’s made their arrival.
What should you not do while you’re pregnant?
- Eat fish with high levels of mercury
- Eat raw meats
- Eat processed meat
- Drink alcohol
- Steam rooms
- Hot tubs
- Cleaning out kitty’s litter box
So, can you get a tattoo while pregnant?
You do have the option (if you can find a willing tattoo artist) – that’s entirely up to you.
But it’s really important to be aware of the possible risks.
While you might not think twice about a new tattoo normally, when you have an extra little life to look after, it might make sense to play it safe for a few months.
And, of course, there’ll always be after your pregnancy to get as much of that beautiful ink as you like.
Keen to show off your new tattoo while pregnant?