Congratulations on your newborn! If you are someone who is a tattoo lover, then after your baby is born, you may be longing to get his /her name inked onto your body in permanent remembrance of how much you love your little one. But then you may be wondering if it is safe to get a tattoo done while you are still breastfeeding your baby? Keep reading this article to know if it is safe to get a tattoo done while breastfeeding, what are the possible side effects and what precautions you need to take when getting yourself inked.
tattoo breastfeeding

Is It Safe To Get A Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

Tattoos are made by injecting ink into the body in the skin’s dermal layer. A tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine which has needles coated in the ink. These needles pierce the skin hundreds of times a minute and with a few millimeters depth.
It is not unsafe to get a tattoo done while you are nursing your baby. This is because the ink molecules are too big to pass into breastmilk. Your baby will in no way get exposed to it. But to be on the safer side, wait for sufficient time after delivery before getting yourself inked. Let your body recover completely from childbirth before you indulge yourself into getting a tattoo made.

What Precautions Should You Take To Get A Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

When you are going to get a tattoo there are several things you should look at so that you come out with a clean and healthy tattoo. General instructions about tattooing also apply to breastfeeding moms. These include:

  • Do not get yourself inked on the chest or breasts. This is because it may be difficult for you to take care of the tattoo in these areas while you are breastfeeding
  • Look for reputed tattoo parlors in your city. Just don’t go to any random place. Make sure you visit a reputed tattoo artist. Do proper research
  • Make sure that there is good lighting when you are getting a tattoo done. This ensures a good looking as well as a clean tattoo
  • Make sure the tattoo artist is using sterilized single-use glove and new containers before starting with making a tattoo on your body
  • Sterilization is very important. Make sure he is using sterilized equipment and the ink gun that he is using is kept in a proper and sterile place. Also, ensure everything is opened in front of you. So when you sit down to have your tattoo done, there should not be any opened needles, ink cups already. It should all be opened just before they begin to put a tattoo on you to avoid cross contamination
  • Make sure that your tattooist washes his hands thoroughly with a disinfectant soap
  • It is very important to follow the aftercare instructions for a tattoo. These include:
    • Cleaning the tattoo area effectively using antibiotic gels
    • Lookout for any signs of infection on skin, pain or redness
    • Protect the tattoo from direct sunlight
    • Do not pick up at the scab
    • Avoid alcohol while tattoo is getting healed
What Are The Risks Involved In Getting A Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for use on or under the skin. Some inks contain pigments that have industrial-grade colors which are used in automobile paint or printers’ ink. FDA has warned that anyone getting a tattoo is at a risk of developing some infections. (Source)
The risks involved in having a tattoo are the same if breastfeeding or not. Here are some of the risks involved in having a tattoo done:

  • Allergic reaction: A few nursing moms may have an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink because of which she may have to halt breastfeeding
  • Bumps or scars: Sometimes getting a tattoo can lead to the formation of scar tissue or bumps and knots known as granulomas that may form around material (ink pigment) that body perceives as a foreign object. Keep a watch on this and let your doctor know about it. These may not be risky for your baby but may require antibiotic treatment. Let your doctor know you are breastfeeding so that he prescribes antibiotics that are safe for nursing moms
  • Infections: The risk is associated with any infection that you can get from the tattooing process. Since tattooing involves using needles, if not done under sterilized conditions, it can lead to infections like HIV, hepatitis, and tetanus. Some of these infections may not pass to your baby through breastmilk, but there can be a risk of the nipples getting cracked and bleeding. It can hamper the mother’s capability to continue breastfeeding
  • MRI complications: Some women may develop swelling or burning in the tattoo when they have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done. This happens rarely and does not last for a long time. But make sure you let your doctor know that you have a tattoo if he orders an MRI

tattoo in breastfeeding

Is Removing A Tattoo Unsafe During Breastfeeding?

Nowadays it’s easier to get the tattoo removed using lasers. The laser emits energy that causes breaking up of tattoo pigment into smaller particles. These are filtered out by the immune system of your body. The whole removal process is bloodless, involves very less risk and has negligible side effects. You need to take care of the area while breastfeeding in the similar way as you would have if you got yourself inked.

What Are The Other Temporary Alternatives To A Tattoo?

If you are weary of getting a cosmetic tattoo done on your body while you are breastfeeding because of the risk of infections then henna tattoo could be something that you can consider when nursing your baby. Just make sure that the henna that you use is natural and free from chemicals.
Though getting a tattoo is considered safe while you are nursing, but it is necessary that a breastfeeding mom must weigh the potential risks to her body, no matter how small, before deciding to get a tattoo. Take an informed decision.
Did you get your baby’s name inked on your body while you were breastfeeding? Did you have any harmful effects? Do share your experiences in the comments section below.