Unlike getting a tattoo during pregnancy which could come with many dangers and risks, getting a tattoo while breastfeeding is a less taboo notion. While there are certainly some precautions a nursing mom should take, and some risks that you should be aware of, in general, getting a tattoo if you’re breastfeeding is okay.
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Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding? - What Does the Law Say?
There is no law or regulation in the United States that says you cannot get a tattoo if you are breastfeeding. But like all tattooing sessions, shops must follow specific standards according to their certifications and professional knowledge, and some individuals may not be comfortable tattooing women who are nursing. This is because there are still a few risks that must be considered.
What Are the Risks of Getting a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
Some medical experts say it’s best for nursing mothers to hold off on getting a tattoo until they are finished breastfeeding, but why is that?
Risk of Infection
The primary reason many people may want to avoid a tattoo session until after they’re done nursing is due to the risk of infection that tattooing can bring. So many factors play into the cleanliness of a tattooing experience and the ease of healing, including the time and dedication you put into your aftercare process. If your tattoo becomes infected check out our guide on how to clean an infected tattoo.
Dr. Natasha Spencer, an OB-GYN, says that, “The main concern with tattooing is the risk of contracting an infection such as Hepatitis B/C and HIV. These infections can be transmitted to the baby through the breastmilk or cracks and bleeding on the breast while breastfeeding.”
While you may be afraid of tattoo ink transmitting to the baby, that’s actually not a concern, since she states, “The tattoo ink is unlikely to get into the breastmilk supply and the ink from tattooing is sealed under the first layer of skin and deposited into the second layer of the skin called the dermis.” But the bacteria that could exist inside the ink, the same bacteria that can cause allergic reactions or infection, could present a problem.
If you do want to get a tattoo when nursing, ensure your shop surpasses safety standards and dedicate significant time to your own tattoo aftercare as you heal.
Tattoo Placement vs. Comfort
While this is not so much of a risk as a personal discomfort, your placement may interfere with you comfortably nursing your child. This is especially true if your tattoo is located on:
- Your chest
- Your stomach
- Your waist
- Your ribs
- Your biceps
Depending on where your baby comfortably rests as you nurse and where they grab, you may irritate your new tattoo as it heals. This placement issue could also present a problem with regards to the potential for infection if your child has dirty hands or fingernails and scratches your tattoo as they are breastfeeding. In fact, scratching the scabs off your tattoo as it is healing presents a whole host of concerns.
Your Body Is Still Changing
Just like pregnancy, your body is going through a whole host of changes as you are breastfeeding. Hormonal growth, milk production, and more can all contribute to the stretching or shrinking of skin all over your body.
The issue this presents is that the tattoo you get may not look the same post-nursing. You cannot anticipate how fast you may lose weight when you are finished breastfeeding your child, and how this may impact the look of the tattoo you just got.
While it is not a risk, it’s important to consider this factor as a possibility when getting tattooed as you are still breastfeeding.
Our Final Thoughts
During your consultation, you need to be honest about your artist when it comes to all medical and body-related concerns. You may find that your artist is uncomfortable tattooing you if you are still nursing, and that needs to be respected. One thing you don’t need to worry about is the idea that the ink could impact or come in contact with the breastmilk - but it’s important not to disregard the other risks that may come from tattooing while breastfeeding.