Pregnancy is one of the most important, life-changing events in a woman’s life. During pregnancy, a woman directly takes care of herself and her baby, so making healthy choices is essential to everything going well and smoothly until the actual birth of the baby. To put it simply, you just want everything to go well and be safe for both you and the little human that grows inside of you.
Now, to completely juxtapose the previous sentences, we have to mention tattooing. Well, tattoos seem to become increasingly popular every year. So much so that even pregnant women wonder whether they can get tattooed right away during the pregnancy and not wait until the baby is born. Of course, some women have set up tattooing appointments before finding out they’re pregnant. Life is unpredictable and stuff happens.
But, what we need to do here is talk seriously about getting tattooed during pregnancy, whether it can cause miscarriage and whether you should do it at all, in terms of safety for the baby. So, without further ado, let’s just get right into it!
Tattoo During Pregnancy
Let’s start by saying that there isn’t really a rule against getting tattooed while pregnant. It is generally believed not to be safe, but the lack of specific research and studies doesn’t really help us build a solid case. However, what we have so far in terms of research shows there is a number of risks associated with getting tattooed during pregnancy. Let’s talk about this in detail in the following paragraphs!
Risks Associated With Tattooing During Pregnancy
Now, it isn’t really advised or recommended to get a tattoo during pregnancy, no matter how much you want that fresh ink. Here are some of the risks associated with tattooing during pregnancy and the reasons why you should avoid it;
- Bacterial Infection
According to the available studies, up to 6% of people develop some kind of infection as a side effect of tattooing. Now, considering that this is a pretty low percentage, we would say it’s not a big deal. However, even the slightest chance of getting an infection during pregnancy can present a major risk and harm for your baby and the way the pregnancy is going to further develop.
Bacterial infection is a huge risk for a pregnant woman. This is because her immune system is overwhelmed, and in many cases weakened, which makes it susceptible to aggressive cases of infection. Some of the symptoms of an infection include fever, shaking, chills, welling of the tattoo, pain, drainage or pus, etc.
It is important to mention that a bacterial infection caused by contamination during and after tattooing can develop into cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin. Without prompt treatment, cellulitis can be life-threatening, especially for pregnant women.
Furthermore, the infection can also quickly turn into bacteremia or sepsis, since it generally tends to enter the bloodstream and progress quickly.
Now, all of this can be generally treated with antibiotics. But, whether or not it is safe to use antibiotics during pregnancy remains a question. Some doctors are completely against it and claim antibiotics can harm the baby, while others completely approve of this practice.
- Viral Infection
Alongside bacterial infection, another dangerous risk of getting tattooed while pregnant is the risk of viral infection. Now, viral infection generally occurs due to contaminated tattooing equipment, like tattoo needles. Some of the most common viral infection that occur as a side-effect of tattooing is hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
Now, you can see how this can be pretty dangerous for a pregnant woman. Hepatitis B or HIV infections can easily pass on to the baby, which means that there is a high chance the baby will have a lifelong infection as well.
For example, there is a 6% chance that a pregnant woman with hepatitis B or C will pass on the infection to her baby. Without proper and immediate treatment, the infection can cause serious health complications in both the mother and the child.
- Skin Changes and Reactions
Now, skin reactions and changes can occur in anyone during and after tattooing, regardless of pregnant or not. This is because the ink ingredients are not regulated and contain harmful components like heavy metals and toxic chemicals. So, depending on the quality of the ink used for tattooing, skin reactions could occur.
Now, it is important to mention that ink allergy is a real thing. It occurs thanks to the ink ingredients and usually has similar symptoms to those of a tattoo infection. There is generally swelling of the tattooed area, redness, pain, drainage and pus, raising of the tattoo, etc.
In case any of the symptoms occur, it is essential to seek medical help and a professional diagnosis. Doctors usually go with corticosteroids to treat and relieve skin reactions, but it is not recommended for pregnant women to use such medicine, Corticosteroids aren’t ever recommended during breastfeeding as well.
Tattooing During Pregnancy and Miscarriage
Yet again, we have to mention that there are no rules against getting tattooed during pregnancy. According to the Baby Centre, so long you follow their guidelines and consider things like registered tattoo artists and sterilized environment, women can choose to get tattooed during pregnancy without an issue. It is also important to mention that APA does mention the risk of hepatitis and HIV infections, but there is no discussion regarding potential miscarriage as a result of tattooing.
However, there is a warning that excess stress or unusual stressful events can result in premature labor. Now, we’re not sure whether tattooing can cause such levels of stress to cause premature labor, but for the sake of a healthy pregnancy and baby’s health, we do recommend postponing the tattooing until the baby is born.
So, can tattooing cause miscarriage? Probably not; there isn’t evidence of such a case so far, luckily.
Tattooing After Pregnancy
So, you’ve decided to postpone the tattoo after you give birth. However, you’re still not in the clear, because, getting a tattoo right after giving birth can be risky. The risk generally applies to women who want to breastfeed.
Now, there are some mixed opinions about breastfeeding and getting tattooed. No medical organization advises against it, but many medical professionals do not advise women who breastfeed to get tattooed.
This is because of the ink, which travels around the body once it gets into the skin. Also, ink can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals, which can cause infections and allergic reactions. Some infections, like HIV, can transmit through breast milk, which can transmit the infection to the child.
So, how long should you wait after giving birth to get a tattoo?
It is recommended that mothers wait between 9 and 12 months to get tattooed after giving birth. This is a period in which the child should stop being dependant on breast milk alone. However, even after this period has passed, make sure to still point out to your tattoo artist that you’ve recently given birth and that you used to breastfeed feed or you still do so occasionally.
So, Should I Get Tattooed During Pregnancy?
Even though there are no scientific recommendations against it, no doctor will go out of their way to approve such a decision to get tattooed while pregnant. The risk of an infection or a skin rection is something you shouldn’t be dealing with while pregnant. The infection could easily pass onto the baby and cause serious health complications.
Other than this, while pregnant, you will gain weight and your skin will stretch. So, your tattoo might look different after you give birth and your skin goes back to the way it used to be.
Also, there is the issue of increased pain during the process of tattooing, as well as a prolonged healing period. During the pregnancy, the immune system is overwhelmed, so it might not be able to handle the tattoo healing as quickly as it would usually do.
Now, tattooing during pregnancy won’t cause miscarriage; at least no scientific research has provided evidence of such possibility or a case where that happened. But, it surely can have some other adverse effects and cause serious health complications, in both the mother and the baby.
In Case You Still Want To Get Tattooed
So, you’ve decided to take the risk and get a tattoo during your pregnancy. Well, the best thing you can do is try to minimize the risk of infection and skin reactions. Here’s everything to take into consideration before getting a tattoo;
- Always make sure to get tattooed by a professional, experienced tattoo artist; pregnant or not. A reputable tattoo artist will pay attention to sanitizing and cleaning all of the equipment and the environment in which you’re getting tattooed.
- Always make sure to let the tattoo artist know that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. You will probably need to sign a form in which you state your pregnancy or that you’re breastfeeding, and that you’re aware of potential side effects.
- Make sure to talk to your tattoo artist about the ink they use and whether they’re familiar with the ink ingredients. If the ink they use, for example, contains heavy metals, then do not get tattooed there.
- Make sure to talk to your tattoo artist about the cleanliness of the parlor and the equipment they use. If the tattoo artist isn’t using autoclaves or sterilization machines, or if the artist is just using some random needles, do not get tattooed there.
- If you notice anything dirty around the tattoo studio, or if your tattoo artist isn’t using new gloves or reusing the old ones, leave the studio. This just means you’re going to get infected because the studio isn’t clearly clean.
- Avoid placing the tattoo on your stomach, hip, or chest area. The stomach and the hip area stretch the most during pregnancy which could affect the appearance of the tattoo later on. Also, avoid getting chest or breast tattoos, because of breastfeeding as well as the increased pain you’ll be experiencing.
- Make sure to really pay attention to the aftercare. Your tattoo might take longer to heal, so pay attention to cleaning the tattoo, keeping it moisturized and protected. If you notice redness, a rash, or if the tattoo is taking too long to close, then seek medical attention right away.
Getting a tattoo during pregnancy isn’t recommended nor advised. However, such an act won’t cause miscarriage; there is no evidence that something like that can occur. It is also important to avoid getting tattooed if you’re breastfeeding after giving birth.
For the sake of your and the baby’s health, you should avoid dealing with ink, which can be toxic and contain heavy metals. Also, the risk of infections transmitting to the baby during or after the pregnancy (through breast milk) is simply too high to be taken lightly. For more information about this topic make sure to talk to your doctor and gynecologist.