Congratulations, you’ve added a new member to your family. A small human being that relies on you for its everyday needs. As a mother, you do everything you can to make sure your baby is healthy and healthy which is why you might have chosen to breastfeed.
You are overjoyed with your new little bundle and want to commemorate this moment with a tattoo. The question is, can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Let’s find out.
Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
There are many schools of thought on getting tattooed while breastfeeding and it is an ongoing controversy. The main point to understand is that there’s no chance of the tattoo ink contaminating the breast milk so this shouldn’t be a worry for you momma.
What are the risks for me?
The risk of infections from the actual tattoo process and lack of aftercare of the tattoo is the biggest concern around getting a tattoo when you’re breastfeeding.
The infections from the process and lack of aftercare can penetrate the bloodstream and enter the breast milk and could harm your child.
Let’s look at how a tattoo is created to understand where the risks fall.
The skin has three layers:
A tattoo uses a mechanical needle to puncture the epidermis and inject ink into the dermis of the skin.
The body will react to this “injury” by sending white blood cells to the location. However, when the white blood cells arrive the ink molecules are too large for the white blood cells to absorb leaving the ink molecules where it was placed.
As long as the ink is FDA approved, the molecules will be too large for the white blood cells to carry away, so the ink will not pass into breast milk.
The process is where the risk lies.
We mentioned how the tattoo artist will use a mechanical needle to create the tattoo.
If that needle is not a sterile needle, the risk of contracting a bloodborne disease is quite possible. If the right simple steps are taken, this complication can be minimized.
How to minimize the risk of infection
- Choose a reputable tattooing studio.
- Ask to see their license.
- Ask friends that have tattoos where they went and if they were satisfied.
- When you arrive, look around the studio and make sure it is clean.
- Make sure the tattoo artist washes their hands and wears a fresh pair of gloves.
- Watch the tattoo artist remove the needle and tubes from a sealed package.
- Any pigments and trays being used should be sterile as well.
If you don’t see these things happening, ask the artist to open a new needle or use a different tray.
Your health is important.
Proper After Care Is Important
You now are a proud owner of a new tattoo. The risk is still a concern at this point of the tattoo process. The aftercare is very important to keep from infections.
The tattooed skin needs to be kept clean while it is healing.
Always use plain soap and clean water and pat dry.
Don’t allow a stream of water to run on the tattooed skin. Apply a mild moisturizer to the area.
Stay out of pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water while the tattoo is healing.
As the tattoo scabs and heals, let it be. Do not pick at the scab as that increases the risk of infection.
Aftercare is the highest risk of infection.
You now know the process of the tattoo and where the risks lie.
You have considered the pros and cons and if a tattoo at this time is right for you.
Be forewarned that some tattoo artists will not tattoo a breastfeeding mother. This could be their personal preference or they could feel that your body needs time to heal and the added injury of the tattoo is a risk.
If this happens, and you still want a tattoo then make sure you do as much research on the next tattoo studio as you did on the first.
Don’t make a knee-jerk reaction and stop at the next tattoo place you see.
If you are on the fence still about a tattoo while you are breastfeeding, remember that little bundle of joy will be growing quickly and onto solid food in a blink of an eye means you can get yourself inked up.
So can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding? Absolutely, by going with a reputable artist and properly taking care of your skin after the procedure you’ll be a-okay.
Ellen Fetters, is a former Children's and Young People's Nursing Practice with an BSc from the University of Sunderland. After completing her SCPHN - HV she then worked as a Health Visitor within the local community.
In 2017 Ellen left nursing to launch Parenting Click, an online parenting resource aimed at creating happier families through better parenting.
She lives with her husband, beautiful baby girl, and two darling dogs. She spends her free time writing, running and learning how to become a better parent.