Can I Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?
Congratulations on your bundle of joy! It’s always a blessing to welcome a new life to this world and to nurture the future of humanity. Wanting to commemorate this special occasion with a tattoo before the baby is born isn’t unheard of. Like you, another pregnant woman is somewhere in the world, or even right in your city, wondering if she can get a tattoo while pregnant.
But is it safe to get a tattoo while you are pregnant? How can a tattoo affect the baby? Is it even a good idea? This article will explore everything you need to know about getting tattooed while pregnant.
What Are The Health Risks Of Getting A Tattoo?
There are risks to getting a tattoo whether you are pregnant or not. However, the risks of getting a tattoo are amplified when you're pregnant. For this reason, many tattoo artists refuse to tattoo pregnant women in general.
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Before we get around to addressing the specific risks of getting tattooed while pregnant, let’s put things into perspective for a minute.
When getting a tattoo, you are at risk of:
Tattoo ink is generally safe for most people, and the majority do not experience any form of adverse reaction. But, this doesn't mean tattoo ink is hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, many people discover their allergy to the pigments in the ink after getting a tattoo, and experience symptoms such as blistering, burning, swelling, and oozing.
Sometimes, these symptoms do not present themselves right away and can be triggered by sunlight. In extreme cases, it can cause large growths that have to be surgically removed. This is most common in red, yellow, green, and blue pigments, and least likely for black and purple.
In other cases, allergic reactions may be onset by the use of latex gloves. Latex gloves are by far the most popular disposable gloves and are used by a large amount of artists. People with known or unknown latex allergies may break out into hives, swelling, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
The first thing you should consider is the fact that a tattoo is an open wound. This means that unless you follow the proper aftercare directions, the wound can get infected. Tattoos may also be infected at the studio if the artist does not sterilize the work area and equipment properly. Though rare, there have even been cases of needles being reused which can spread infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
MRI scans can cause tattoo burns when the iron oxide in black ink heats up. This can ruin a tattoo design and may leave you with scars.
Certain skin conditions may be initiated or aggravated by tattoo ink such as keloids, cement dermatitis, collagen deposits, and lichenoid diseases. Tattoos may also contribute to the development of nodules of inflamed skin called granulomas.
Skin cancer diagnosis
If you have a history of skin cancer in your family, a large tattoo may delay diagnosis. There are many cases of doctors discovering melanomas under tattoos across the world.
In one instance, doctors noticed a strange mole on the arm of a patient who came in for laser removal. Though the patient refused to have it removed at the time, the mistake was discovered seven years later when he was diagnosed with skin cancer.
Can I Get A Tattoo While Pregnant?
While many of the health risks associated with tattoos are uncommon, and the majority of people heal incident-free, it isn’t quite the same for pregnant women.
Most doctors you ask will tell you to wait until you have had your baby and are done breastfeeding to get your next tattoo. Although there is no concrete evidence that the ink in a tattoo can have any effects on the baby, why risk it?
If your tattoo ends up getting infected, you can experience symptoms such as fever, irritation, or worse, blood poisoning (sepsis) which can in turn affect your baby. If this happens, your doctor is limited in terms of treatment options as certain medications such as antibiotics can harm that baby. Here’s how to ensure that the studio you are getting tattooed in has up-to-standard hygiene practices. The last thing you want, pregnant or not, is to contract an infection from a tattoo.
There is also the risk of blood-borne illness to contend with, and the risk of passing it on to your child is not worth it, even if you go to the best artist in town.
Plus, there’s also stretching that you’ll have to think about. You will have noticed that you gained a lot of weight all over your body apart from your baby bump. When skin stretches, it becomes thinner and the risk of blowout and puncturing blood vessels is much higher.
When you lose weight, the design may become distorted, and the skin may even sag. Stretch marks can change the appearance of a tattoo, and you may even end up regretting it.
There’s also the matter of pain, as tattoos are no walk in the park, especially for a sensitive pregnant person. There have been cases of women becoming stressed out during or after getting a tattoo, and this places them at risk of premature labor.
Well, I’m Getting It Anyway
If you decide to go ahead and get a tattoo while pregnant anyway, there are some precautions you can take. This will further decrease the likelihood of unwanted and unpleasant health effects.
- Waiting till the second trimester when the baby’s bones and nerves are already developed
- Finding a licensed and reputable tattoo artist (this will almost be impossible as no reputable artist will risk tattooing a pregnant person)
- Informing your tattoo artist of your pregnancy
- Observing closely the cleanliness of the shop and the sanitation practices of the tattoo artist
- Ensure all needles and dressings are opened in front of you to make sure they are sterile
Can I Get An Epidural With A Back Tattoo?
Labor is very painful and epidurals are given to block pain signals to the brain and make the process more manageable. However, a nurse or doctor may refuse an epidural since it increases your chances of getting an infection. This ultimately means that you will feel every contraction and movement and will need to get through it.
If you got the tattoo before giving birth, the site of the injection can begin to scar and alter the appearance of your tattoo.
Can I Get A Tattoo While Breastfeeding?
Nursing mothers can pass toxins and even certain diseases onto their babies through their breast milk. Some doctors argue that the ink molecules are too large to get into breast milk, but the science in this area is lacking.
In any case, you’re probably better off waiting until the baby has weaned off breast milk before you get a tattoo. Again, it is simply not worth the risk to your child's health.
How About Henna?
Henna tattoos are actually pretty common for pregnant women in parts of the world such as India, Africa, and the Middle East. It is said to bring good luck and is a way to celebrate the baby.
Pure henna is typically safe, as can even help to cool you down during your pregnancy. There are no needles involved and the chances of allergic reactions are slim unless you are allergic to the liquid or oils used to mix the henna powder. In that case, it is best to ask questions about the paste beforehand.
Natural henna ranges in shades from red/orange to brown. Do not use black henna or any other color.
So When Can I Get A Tattoo While Pregnant?
Truthfully, it’s all up to you to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. Some women have gotten tattoos while pregnant, some knowingly, others unknowingly, and have turned out just fine. Others have had to contend with the health effects. Personally, we don't think it is worth the risk to the health of you and your baby. If something bad does happen simply because you did not wait to get a tattoo, you may regret it for the rest of your life.
If you’re struggling to make a decision, consult your OBGYN. They are a better judge of your current health state and overall risk.
Most tattoo artists will refuse to give tattoos to pregnant women, so be sure to inform them beforehand to avoid any confusion.
You can also use these magical months to carefully plan out your next tattoo, using our guides to be as informed as you can possibly be before the big day.
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