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Is It Safe to Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

Tattoos are a popular form of self-expression in many cultures, and some women may wish to get a new tattoo while breastfeeding. This article will discuss whether it is safe to get a new tattoo while breastfeeding, the risks and benefits of doing so, and general safety precautions to consider.

Key takeaways:

Is it safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence regarding tattooing while breastfeeding. This can make the decision to get a tattoo while breastfeeding even harder.

However, most experts agree that the safest choice is to delay getting a tattoo until breastfeeding is over. If you do decide to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, it is important to take precautions and to consult with your doctor or midwife before doing so.

It is also important to note that many tattoo artists will not tattoo someone who is pregnant or breastfeeding out of an abundance of caution. However, if one agrees to tattoo you, they may ask you to sign a legal waiver releasing them from any liability should complications arise due to the tattooing.

Risks of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding

The tattooing process always carries risk, whether you are breastfeeding or not.

The primary concern regarding new tattoos while breastfeeding is the risk of infection. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are all examples of serious bloodborne infections that can be transferred to the mother through unsanitary needle practices.

Although hepatitis B and C can be detected in breast milk, breastfeeding has not shown an increased risk of infection for the baby. HIV, on the other hand, can easily be transmitted to your baby through breast milk, so experts recommend that mothers with HIV do not breastfeed. It is also possible to transfer hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV to your baby if your nipples are cracked and bleeding during breastfeeding.

All tattoos carry the risk of the site itself getting infected, which would require antibiotics to treat. Although rare, some tattoo infections can evolve into sepsis, a life-threatening bloodstream infection. Certain antibiotic treatments for infections or sepsis may be incompatible with breastfeeding.

You may also experience an allergic reaction to the inks used during tattooing. Tattooing inks are not approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and may contain heavy metals or chemicals. Over the course of several months, after your tattoo is complete, the ink pigments break down. It is speculated that these broken-down molecules of ink are still too large to transfer into breast milk, but no concrete research is available to confirm that theory.

Safety tips and precautions

If you do decide to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, here are some important safety tips and precautions to follow:

  • Do your research and only use a licensed, experienced tattoo artist. Licensed tattoo artists and parlors should be clean, follow proper hygiene practices, use sterile equipment, and have an updated license on file with the local health department. It is recommended that you choose a tattoo artist with years of experience and a good reputation.
  • Discuss it with your doctor beforehand. It is always a good idea to let your healthcare provider know that you plan on getting a tattoo while breastfeeding so they can review the risks with you.
  • Be mindful of placement. Tattoos can take weeks to heal and they can be sore during the healing process. Consider the movements your body must do to care for your baby (picking them up, holding them, feeding them) and plan your tattoo placement accordingly.
  • Care for your tattoo properly. Your tattoo artist will give you aftercare instructions when your tattoo is finished. Follow these instructions diligently to avoid any complications.
  • Monitor your new tattoo for signs of infection. Redness, severe pain, and swelling of the tattooed area could indicate infection. Reach out to your healthcare provider immediately if you suspect your tattoo might be infected.

There is little evidence surrounding the safety of getting a new tattoo while breastfeeding. There are always risks involved with getting a tattoo, so it is important to discuss the idea with your healthcare provider. If you decide to move forward with getting the tattoo, take as many safety precautions as possible to minimize the risk of complications that could cause harm to you or your baby.

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