Do you have a breastfeeding baby and want to get a tattoo? You are not alone! Many new mothers choose to get tattoos during this time. It is important to know the facts about getting tattoos while breastfeeding before you make your final decision. This article will discuss some of the benefits and risks of getting inked while nursing, as well as what it means for your milk supply.
Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
It is safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding – the ink molecules are too big get into your breastmilk. Choose a reputable tattoo artist who wears gloves and sterilizes their equipment (since HIV and hepatitis could pass on to your breastfed baby) and keep in mind that your body shape may change after birth, so this could change the shape of your tattoo.
What are the risks of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding?
- You have an allergic reaction – triggered by the tattoo ink, possibly impacting your ability to comfortably feed your baby while keeping yourself safe.
- Your skin becomes infected – this could be due to the equipment used, possible artist infection transmission, or poor ink. Your postpartum body already has a challenged immune system because of the mass of hormones swelling around, your reduced sleep, and increased overall stress. What could have been a minor infection may impact you more significantly while you’re breastfeeding.
- Your milk supply is affected – this could mean a reduction in your breastmilk production or an increase in the risk of mastitis, caused by stress to your body because of an infection, or pain.
- You contract a blood-borne virus – through unsterilized tattoo equipment. The concern with tattooing someone is the virus known to be transmitted through breastmilk, HIV. Hepatitis A and C may be a concern for your baby if you have cracked nipples through feeding.
- Your body changes shape as it recovers – which could possibly affect the design. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo while still breastfeeding, consider waiting until your body has stabilized after the birth. You may consider waiting until after breastfeeding if your tattoo will be on your chest.
- You can’t dedicate time to the required post-care – once you add the care of a new baby to your already busy day, getting time and effort for things like caring for a tattoo becomes difficult.
- Your tattoo could be more likely to be injured – you’re wrangling a wriggly baby, sitting and sleeping in odd positions, and wearing all sorts of clothing that you’re not normally used to. Fresh tattoos are considered open wounds and are at risk of further accidental injury.
Will tattoo artists allow me to get a tattoo if I’m breastfeeding?
Some tattoo artists turn down women who are breastfeeding for risk of infection and liability.
Tattoo artists may request that pregnant or nursing mothers sign an appropriate waiver beforehand to protect themselves.
This is typically for liability purposes on the tattoo artist’s part, but also to prevent any disease that could affect your baby. Some artists may encourage breastfeeding moms to wait at least 9-12 months, when the child is no longer breastfeeding full time, before getting a tattoo.
How can I minimize the risks of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Here are some tips for finding a good tattoo artist- many of these tips apply to anyone wanting to get a tattoo, not just breastfeeding mothers!
- Ask the tattoo artist about their experience and credentials, and ask them how they would address any potential risks.
- Ask about the ink and how it’s stored. Beware of tattoo artists who don’t want to give this information upfront! Tattoo inks may be mixed with other chemicals that can affect your immune system.
- Wait until your baby isn’t exclusively breastfeeding. When they’ve started solids, or also have other fluids in their day. This will reduce the risk of infection and other complications, as well as allow your immune system to heal properly from childbirth and pregnancy.
- Go over and above on the post-tattoo care. You really want to make sure you’re minimizing the risks of infection.
Can I get a tattoo removed while breastfeeding?
The removal process for tattoos is often long and drawn out, depending on how many sessions are needed to remove the tattoo. Lasers break down the pigment into smaller particles so that your body’s natural filters can process them and remove them.
Consider waiting until your baby has been weaned from breastmilk before getting tattoo removal treatments. There have been no studies about the effects of broken down tattoo ink pigment in a breastfeeding mother’s body.
We’re not entirely sure if the ink can get into breastmilk. 8-10 regular laser treatment sessions, 1-2 months apart, take their toll on bodies, and that is before you consider a body that is also breastfeeding. The same risks for getting a tattoo in the first place also still apply.
So if I’m breastfeeding, should I get a tattoo?
There haven’t been meaningful studies around the safety of getting inked while breastfeeding. Consider the risks and challenges when making your decision, find a reputable tattoo artist to speak with, (be honest with them!) and re-evaluate frequently before getting it done. Consider your new baby and how they’re going, too – you might delay your appointment if your little one is struggling with feeds, for example. If you choose to wait, the day you get your body art will be here before you know it, just like the day your baby graduates from school. Good luck!