Are you wondering if you can get a tattoo while you're pregnant? We share the risks of a new tattoo, if you can get one and if a tattooist will tattoo you.
You’ve seen those two little blue lines magically appear, booked in a scan and started to feel the flutters. But as you fall in love with this new life growing inside you, what about your first love? Tattoos.
When body art is a big part of your personality, it’s hard to imagine abstaining from ink for 9 months. More still, you might be wondering the same if you’re considering a tattoo while breastfeeding your baby.
We asked the thoughts of our Stories & Ink Creative Content Manager Barbara (pictured above) and Brighton based tattoo artist Georgia of Honeybadger Tattoo, who are both due summer babies.
Both feel getting a tattoo when pregnant isn’t worth the risk - and would rather wait until the baby is earth side before booking any new body art.
It’s also important to note that neither are medical professionals, and we strongly recommend speaking to your midwife, health visitor or GP should you have any concerns regarding your pregnancy, as well as any infection or allergy symptoms.
Can you get a tattoo when pregnant?
"I'm not a professional, but from what I have heard, it's not safe to get tattooed while pregnant," explains Barbara (@barbaradzerve).
"The main risk is contracting an infection that can be very dangerous for you and the baby. Even though the risk is small, pregnancy takes a toll on the body and can decrease the immune system’s full function, so it’s best to wait.
"It also depends on how large the tattoo is, and sitting in pain for a prolonged period of time puts your body at stress and I imagine it's not good for the baby either."
"I wouldn’t tattoo anyone at any stage of pregnancy, nor while they’re breastfeeding"
Georgia of @honeybadger___tattoo shares the same view. "I wouldn’t tattoo anyone at any stage of pregnancy, nor while they’re breastfeeding," she says. "And similarly, since I found out I was expecting I’ve postponed all tattoo plans myself. It’s just not worth the risk in my opinion.
"And actually, even though ordinarily I can put on a brave face for most tattoos, I can’t think of anything worse since being pregnant. Everything’s so heightened and sensitive already. I’d always recommend just waiting. A good tattoo is always worth the wait."
Potential risks of getting a tattoo while pregnant
Although small, the risk of infection when getting a tattoo is always there. This can come from the likes of dirty needles, exposure to infections and studios with a poor hygiene record. So just like avoiding undercooked meat, runny yolks and raw sushi, healthcare professionals would advise against getting a tattoo while pregnant - just in case.
Blood borne viruses in particular (BBV) such as HIV and hepatitis can be passed to your unborn baby through unsterilised needles. These can cause serious infection so are best avoided.
Stretch marks are a natural and beautiful part of pregnancy - your body is working magic and you should be proud of how it changes and adapts as you grow a new life. If your tattoo changes through stretch marks and you wish to adapt the design - take a look at our guide on tattooing over stretch marks. This also goes for those who wish to turn their stretch marks into a new design, which incorporates their beauty with body art.
There is little research for or against tattoo inks during pregnancy. However, some inks and dyes could harm your unborn baby. Your skin could react differently during pregnancy too, so a tattoo allergy is also something to look out for.
What happens if I get tattooed while pregnant?
"If you got tattooed and didn’t yet know you were pregnant, then don’t stress it too much,” says Barbara. “The risk of infection is small, but to clear your mind, you can always speak to a doctor. But do not get tattooed if you know you’re pregnant. You are putting yourself and your unborn child at risk of contracting an infection like Hepatitis B or HIV."
Will a tattoo artist tattoo me if I’m pregnant?
"Most likely not! I’d like to believe that most professionals are informed of this and would not tattoo you if you are pregnant. At least the tattoo artists I know would always decline if a client comes in visibly pregnant or informs the artist that they are. It’s a different story if you aren’t visibly pregnant and don’t inform the artist of your situation, but you should."
Can you get a tattoo removed while pregnant?
The NHS advises against getting a tattoo removed while pregnant, due to the nature of laser removal. You don’t need to worry if you had a few sessions and didn’t realise you were pregnant - but you might want to hold off until your baby is here.
“If you ask me," shares Barbara, "I wouldn’t suggest it. Any kind of treatment like this I’d wait off until you are through with pregnancy."
How soon after birth can I get a tattoo?
"I think it depends on several factors. If you're breastfeeding or not, and how you, yourself, are feeling. If you decide to breastfeed then it's advisable to wait 9-12 months after birth before getting a tattoo. But if you aren’t breastfeeding then you can get tattooed as soon as you feel ready."
Can I get a tattoo if I’m breastfeeding?
We also spoke to Maria Myers, qualified antenatal teacher, doula, and international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and founder of Milk-Making Mama, to unravel the mysteries around tattoos and breastfeeding.
She suggests that you do lots of research to ensure the tattoo studio "follows safety guidelines and takes necessary health and safety precautions" - but you can read more in our guide to breastfeeding and tattoos.
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