Can I get a tattoo while pregnant?
You may want to remember this special time in your life by getting a tattoo or you may be worried about tattoos during pregnancy.
Most likely, you want everything to be safe for you and your baby.
This information can help you when looking at tattoos you already have and deciding whether or not to get a tattoo during pregnancy.
Tattoos during pregnancy: first things first – safety
Make sure your tattoo artist is following these guidelines:
- They are a registered Tattoo practitioner (if your state registers tattoo artists)
- They always wear gloves during the process
- They have asterilizing unit to sterilize equipment
- The floors and surfaces were all clean
- All used needles are new, non-reusable and made for single use only
- The dressing is clean, packed and unopened
- The dyes or ink used for the tattoo are also clean packed and will not open
- The artist will be available for the first 24 hours if you have any issues. (Find out the artist availability if you have any issues in the coming days and months)
If you have a tattoo and question the methods of comfort you have done, make sure you have been tested for hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis.
Precautions for taking a Tattoo during Pregnancy
The main concern in taking a tattoo during pregnancy is the risk of infections such as hepatitis B and HIV. Although the risk is small, it is recommended to wait until after your baby is born to get a tattoo.
Less information is available about the safety of skin color used for tattooing during pregnancy.
Colored chemicals are likely to affect baby development during the first 12 weeks. However, the risks are not known to have any effects on the baby during the rest of the pregnancy.
Some women have even heard that if they have a tattoo on their back, they may not be able to get an epidural.
Very few studies have been done on the risks to women who have had tattoos back and got an epidural.
So far no research has found accurate data indicating no risks, so most anesthesiologists have no problem giving an epidural to a woman with a tattoo on the back.
If you want to have an epidural and have a tattoo on your back, it is still a good idea to consult a hospital regarding tattoos and epidurals and know the policy.
Additionally, breastfeeding can transmit the infection to your baby, but the risk is small. It is really up to you, but you may want to wait until you are breastfeeding to get a new tattoo.
What about henna as an alternative?
For thousands of years, many women in Egypt, India, and the Middle East have “brought good luck” to their pregnancies by applying beautiful designs of henna on their pregnant abdomen in the third trimester.
According to mythology, henna brings security and a happy baby during childbirth.
If you are interested in this temporary alternative, be aware that there are different types of gourds. Natural, safe gourd skin stains orange, red, brown, cinnamon, brick, chocolate or coffee and lasts for one to four weeks.
Natural, safe henna does not come in black. You can be sure that the artist is using pure, natural products and black henna.
Black henna is considered to be unsafe for anyone, either pregnant or not.
Black henna contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which causes burns, blisters, and various reactions that can last for months and are difficult to diagnose and treat.
If you are concerned about an existing tattoo or henna, talk to your health care provider.
Risks involved in getting a tattoo while pregnant
There are some risks involved in getting a tattoo, and some of those risks can cause big problems in pregnant women. You need to be aware of these dangers before deciding to get a tattoo while pregnant.
Infection. One of the major dangers of getting a tattoo is the risk of infection. If your tattoo artist uses contaminated or dirty needles, you run the risk of contracting blood infections such as hepatitis B.
A mother with hepatitis B can easily transmit the infection to her baby from birth. Children with hepatitis B have a 90% chance of infection for the rest of their lives, and if left untreated one in four of them will die from the infection with health problems.
Other blood pressure infections, such as hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), can also be transmitted through unclean tattoo needles. A mother with hepatitis C has a 6% chance of infecting her baby. Without treatment, a mother with HIV has a 15% to 45% chance of infecting her baby.
Toxic tattoo veins. Although the average tattoo needle is only about an inch deep into the skin, some tattoo inks contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead.