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The ultimate guide to getting tattoos while pregnant


In the transformative journey of motherhood, many women seek to memorialise their experiences with symbols and art. The allure of tattoos as a testament to this unique time can be powerful. However, the intersection of tattoos and pregnancy raises crucial questions about safety, health implications, and risks. It's not merely about aesthetic choices but informed decisions for the well-being of both mother and child.

So, we created this comprehensive guide to fully understand and navigate the complexities surrounding getting tattoos during pregnancy.

Can you get a tattoo safely while pregnant?

Technically, you can get a new tattoo while pregnant. However, many professionals and healthcare providers even tattoo artists advise against it due to potential risks. The main concerns include the possibility of allergic reactions to the ink, infections from unsterile equipment and the stress or pain from the procedure affecting the body or the fetus.

If someone is considering getting a new tattoo while pregnant, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a board-certified dermatologist to understand the risks and make an informed decision. It's generally recommended to wait until after pregnancy to get inked.


pregnant woman having check up with a doctor


What are the risks of getting a tattoo while pregnant


Tattooing requires needles to puncture the skin thousands of times a minute. If done in an unsanitary environment or if aftercare is not properly administered, there's a heightened risk of bacterial infections. Serious infections like hepatitis B or HIV can also be contracted if contaminated needles are used. Infections can have direct implications for maternal health and indirectly impact fetal well-being.

Fetal stress

The pain and stress experienced during a tattoo session or even laser tattoo removal could lead to increased maternal stress hormones like cortisol. High-stress levels can potentially impact fetal health, leading to complications or affecting fetal development.

Unable to receive epidurals

Some anesthesiologists may be hesitant to administer an epidural if there's a fresh tattoo on the lower back, fearing potential complications from pushing ink or contaminants into the spinal column. While this is a debated topic, it's a consideration for those thinking of a lower back tattoo during pregnancy.

Allergic reactions

There's always a chance of an allergic reaction when introducing foreign substances into the body. Some individuals might react to tattoo ink, leading to itching, rashes, or more severe skin conditions. Such reactions can add additional stress to the body during pregnancy.

Skin during pregnancy

Pregnancy leads to various skin changes, including stretching, increased blood volume, and hormone fluctuations. These changes might affect how the tattoo heals or looks over time. A design that looked one way during pregnancy might look different postpartum due to skin elasticity changes.

Toxic tattoo ink

While many professional tattoo inks and needles are safe, there's a lack of regulation in the industry. Some inks from a tattoo parlour might contain harmful substances or heavy metals. If these toxins enter the bloodstream, there's a potential risk for both the mother and the developing baby.

Getting tattoos while breastfeeding

While again, it's technically possible to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, but it is generally not advisable. Getting a tattoo while breastfeeding poses certain concerns. Although the risks aren't fully defined, there's potential trouble if the mother contracts an infection from the tattoo and subsequently requires antibiotics, which might pass into breast milk. There's also a small, yet significant risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like hepatitis or HIV from improperly sterilised equipment; if the mother's nipples crack or bleed, transmission to the infant is possible.


breastfeeding woman


Additionally, some healthcare professionals have reservations about tattoo ink dyes or infections making their way into the milk, even though concrete evidence is limited. Due to these uncertainties and potential risks, many experts recommend waiting until after the breastfeeding period to get a tattoo.

Does pregnancy affect my current tattoos?

Pregnancy can have effects on the body that might influence the appearance or condition of existing tattoos, especially those located on the abdomen, hips, thighs, and breasts. Here's how:

  • Stretching of the skin: As your belly and other body parts expand to accommodate the growing fetus, tattoos in these areas might stretch as well. This can lead to distortion of the tattoo design, making it look different from its original form.
  • Colour alteration: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes cause skin pigmentation changes, known as chloasma or the "mask of pregnancy." This temporary darkening of the skin might affect the appearance of tattoos, making them look darker or slightly discoloured. However, this effect is usually temporary, and the skin, along with the tattoo, may return to its pre-pregnancy state postpartum.
  • Stretch marks and itching: As the skin stretches, it can become itchy. If stretch marks develop on or across an existing tattoo, they can permanently alter its appearance. Stretch marks are scars in the skin's deeper layers and can make a tattooed area appear streaked or uneven. To help combat this, consider using Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula - Lotion. Not only can it soothe itchiness, but its hydrating properties may also aid in reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
  • Temporary raised appearance: Some pregnant women report that their tattoos become more pronounced or raised. This is because due to the increased blood volume and changes in skin texture. Typically, this change is temporary, and the tattoo flattens out after pregnancy.


pregnant woman looking at the xray baby picture


Final thoughts

Navigating pregnancy comes with a sea of decisions, and the choice to get a tattoo is one that requires careful thought. This guide has broken down the essentials of what to expect and be wary of when considering tattoos during this special time. For the safety of both mom and baby, it's always best to be informed and cautious.

Remember, while the urge to ink a memory might be strong, ensuring a safe environment for your baby is paramount. It might just be worth the wait to get that perfect tattoo once this beautiful journey of pregnancy is complete.


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  • Mark Joshua Luz