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Is it Safe to Get a Tattoo While Pregnant

Is it Safe to Get a Tattoo While Pregnant
21 Feb, 2022

Is it Safe to Get a Tattoo While Pregnant

While tattoos were once a rarity among women, in recent years, almost all women have a tattoo somewhere on their skin. If you’re among the women who’ve already gotten inked, or you’re thinking about getting one, there’s one condition that will put a stop to your inky dreams: pregnancy.

Perhaps you have thought about getting a tattoo to commemorate your special pregnancy time, or you had planned to get a tattoo, only to be surprised by a positive pregnancy test, or you’re worried about your existing tattoo during pregnancy.

Here is what you need to know.

Tattoos and Pregnancy

For now, there are no definite rules about the safety of tattoos during pregnancy due to a lack of research. However, some medical experts say that there are certain risks associated with tattoos and pregnancy and recommend not getting a tattoo while pregnant.  In fact, the little bit of research that exists on tattoo ink suggests that certain products in tattoo ink might be able to be transferred through the placenta. In rare instances, there have been incidents reported of ink containing bacteria or allergens.

When you’re pregnant you are concerned about your baby. Pregnancy isn’t really the time to take extra risks. While pregnant, you realize that you and your baby are now one person sharing the same body, and what can affect you or give you allergies or infections can also be transmitted to your baby.

Infection

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the biggest concern about getting a tattoo during pregnancy is the risk of contracting an infection, like hepatitis B or C. If your tattoo artist uses contaminated or dirty needles, you could be at risk of getting bloodborne infections. During birth, a mother with hepatitis B is likely to transmit the infection to her baby. And guess what? Babies with hepatitis B have a 90% chance of developing a lifelong infection, and in some cases, babies can die of health complications from the infection if it is left untreated. Poor hygiene practices and unsterile tattoo needles can also cause other bloodborne infections, such as hepatitis HIV. You wouldn’t risk it. Would you?

Toxicity

Some tattoo ink contains heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead. Even though the average tattoo needle is only poked ⅛ of an inch into the skin, these ingredients can be transferred to your baby and can pose a threat to your developing baby, particularly in the first trimester when the main organs are developing. Heavy metal exposure can affect your baby's brain development. Also, it can increase your chances of suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Allergies

Small amounts of chemicals that might be harmless to an adult can have a much bigger impact on a tiny fetus.  In fact, medical studies suggest that a highly allergic pregnant mother may potentially transfer her IgE to her baby that consequently develops allergic reactions.

Skin Changes

Because of skin changes during pregnancy (including stretching of your belly and breasts), a tattoo that you get while you're pregnant might look distorted after you deliver your baby. During pregnancy, there’s also the potential for weight gain and stretch marks, which could appear right in the middle of your new design (most common locations: belly, breasts, and thighs) and can damage your tattoo – sometimes permanently.

Inability to Receive Epidurals

The back is such a broad canvas for tattoo art and it’s a common spot to get inked. The downside is that a back tattoo may pose a problem for getting an epidural during labor and delivery. You’ve probably heard the rumor that women with a lower back tattoo can’t get an epidural under the theory that the needle could push pigmented tissue into the spinal column and cause some sort of growth or infection. There is little medical literature to support this claim. It may spell trouble because some anesthesiologists will not place an epidural through a tattoo on your back or try to insert the needle in an area away from the tattoo design, if possible, but most anesthesiologists have no problem giving an epidural to a woman with a back tattoo. In any way, it is something to talk over with your doctor beforehand so there are no surprises in the delivery room (other than the ones you want). 

Think it Through

The above points should make you think twice before getting a tattoo. You definitely wouldn’t put your child at risk and you certainly wouldn’t want him to get intoxicated, infected, or allergic. Although the risk is small, it is better to wait to get a tattoo after your baby is born.  You may also want to wait until you are not breastfeeding anymore to get your tattoo so you avoid all and any complications. 

Ultimately, it’s your decision.

First Thing First – Safety

If you’re bitten by the tattoo bug and you’re not wishing to cancel your tattoo appointment, you should tell the artist that you're pregnant. Many artists won’t tattoo pregnant women. Finally, make sure that your tattoo parlor is reputable and that your tattoo artist is following these guidelines:

  • During the whole tattoo process, the tattoo artist is wearing gloves.
  • The floors, benches, and surfaces are all clean.
  • All the needles used are new, disposable, and made for single use only.
  • The artist has an autoclave (sterilizing unit to sterilize equipment).
  • The dressings are sterile, packed, and unopened.
  • The dyes or ink used for the tattoo are also sterile, packed, and unopened.
What If I Already Have a Tattoo?

It is natural to think that your existing tattoos may have an impact on your unborn baby if you have gotten them prior to pregnancy. The good news is that risks are minimal to nonexistent.

I Will Get My Tattoo Removed Just in Case.

Pretty please don’t. You should not have a tattoo removed during pregnancy since it could pose a risk to your baby. Removing the tattoo with laser doesn’t eliminate it but rather the laser light shatters the ink into particles that your body absorbs and flushes out. During that time, your baby may be exposed to the ink that your body is absorbing so stick your tattoo out until after your baby arrives.

Before you get a tattoo while pregnant, think about all the potential risks and find out ways you can get a tattoo safely. Calm any anxiety you might have on this topic by talking to your doctor and your tattoo artist. You should seek their guidance in this matter and you and your baby will eventually be fine.


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