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’s no hard rule on tattoos while pregnant.
The health risks associated with getting tattoos while pregnant are generally low.
However, you’re probably going to want to think it through.
When you’ve got an extra human to worry about, it’s best to be sure about what you’re letting yourself in for.
Here are some of the things to consider about combining pregnancy and tattooing.
Just remember though: once you’ve given birth, you can get all the ink you want without any worry.
So here’s all you need to know about tattoos and pregnancy.
In this article: 📝
- Potential risks of getting tattoos while pregnant
- Is it OK to get a tattoo while pregnant?
- What happens if I get a tattoo while pregnant?
- Does tattoo ink affect pregnancy?
- Tattoo removal while pregnant
- Will a tattooist tattoo a pregnant woman?
- How soon after pregnancy can you get a tattoo?
- What should you not do while you’re pregnant?
Potential risks of getting tattoos while pregnant
As we said, there’s no cut-and-dry medical rule when it comes to getting tattoos while pregnant.
But, with a baby on the way, the best strategy for mamas might be 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 – when 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 latter stages of pregnancy.
While this isn’t something that will harm the little one if you get a tattoo while pregnant, it’s something that you might want to bear in mind before getting any intricate ink work 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, doctors might be reluctant to give you an injection if the art 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.
Is it OK to get a tattoo while pregnant?
So, is it bad to get a tattoo while pregnant?
While it’s not advised to get a tattoo while pregnant, it’s not something that’s explicitly said that pregnant people can’t do.
However, general medical advice is to avoid getting a tattoo 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.
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’s made their grand entrance.
Can you get a small tattoo while pregnant?
It’s not advised to get a tattoo of any size while pregnant.
This is because there’s always a risk of infection or metal poisoning from tattoo inks, which can be passed down to baby.
These potential infections or poisoning can be harmful to both you 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.
This is because the potential infections or metal poisoning can pass in your bloodstream through to baby ‒ it doesn’t matter where on your body you get tattooed, there’s always a risk.
Can you get a tattoo on your leg while pregnant?
You can, but it’s not advised.
Wherever on your body you have a tattoo while pregnant, there will always be a risk of infection or heavy metal poisoning, which can be harmful to you and baby.
What happens if I get a tattoo while pregnant?
So now you know the minimal risks, can you get tattoos while pregnant?
And if you do get tattoos while pregnant at different stages of your pregnancy, what could happen?
Can you get a tattoo in early pregnancy?
Can you get a tattoo while pregnant 1st trimester?
Well, it’s not advised, due to the increased risk of infection or inks with potentially harmful substances, which could potentially harm you and baby.
Can you get a tattoo while 4 weeks pregnant?
You can get a tattoo at 4 weeks pregnant, but it’s not advised.
However, some people don’t know they’re pregnant for quite a few weeks into their pregnancy.
So if you’ve unknowingly had a tattoo while 4 weeks pregnant, try not to fret.
The risk of infection and heavy metal poisoning are small, but they are there.
If you’re worried at all, speak with your doctor.
Can I get a tattoo at 6 weeks pregnant?
It’s not advised at any point in your pregnancy to get a tattoo, so if you know you’re expecting at 6 weeks pregnant, it’s best to re-book your appointment for about 9 months in the future.
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.
Can getting a tattoo while pregnant cause a miscarriage?
Generally speaking, there hasn’t been a link made to 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 contain heavy metals 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.
And 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.
Some tattoo inks have been proven to contain trace amounts of heavy metals.
If you’re not sure, have a chat with your healthcare provider before you get inked up.
Can tattoos affect 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, but there doesn’t seem to be any explicit proof of tattoos affecting 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.
Tattoo removal while pregnant
How about if you decide you’re not so keen on your existing tattoo during pregnancy?
Can you get tattoo removal while pregnant?
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.
How soon after pregnancy can you get a tattoo?
It depends on whether you’re planning on breastfeeding your baby.
There is a risk of an allergic reaction, skin infection, or blood infection whenever you get a tattoo, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
However, if you have an infection, that 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.
Best to book your appointment for when you’re planning on stopping breastfeeding.
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?
There are a few things you may have to give up when you find out you’re pregnant:
- Fish with high levels of mercury
- Raw meats
- Processed meat
- Steam rooms
- Hot tubs
- Cleaning out kitty’s litter box
So, can you get a tattoo when you’re 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?