The birth of a child is an important event in a woman’s life. As tattoos become more popular and accepted in the culture, some women choose to celebrate the occasion with meaningful body art.
Many breastfeeding mothers who are planning to get a tattoo are worried about whether this procedure will lead to undesirable consequences, such as ink getting into milk, allergies in the baby, skin infections, or blood poisoning.
Based on this, in this article, we examined a large number of information on the possible risks of tattooing while breastfeeding, and also the precautions associated with this process.
Find a tattoo artist
Use the search form below to find an artist by their name, location, or style of work.
Use the interactive USA map below to open a new page with all tattoo artists from a certain city or state. Hover on the state to see a hint, do the same with a marker to read the explanation on following steps.
Risks of tattooing while breastfeeding
When you receive a tattoo, your tattoo artist uses a machine with needles that insert ink into the top layer of the skin. The needles pierce your skin hundreds to thousands of times a minute.
The molecular structure of tattoo ink is too large to pass through breast milk. This means that even if the ink does enter your skin, it does not pass through breast milk to your baby. The needle is inserted into the skin and reaches only the dermal layer.
The risk of infection from the procedure itself can be a problem.
Allergic reaction to ink and pain relievers
A potential danger of getting ink while breastfeeding is the use of lidocaine.
Lidocaine is a topical pain reliever spray that many tattoo artists use while applying paint. This drug has been shown to pass into breast milk and may cause allergic reactions in an infant.
During breastfeeding, immunity decreases due to increased stress on the body. The impact of the tattoo machine needle on the skin strikes the body, and an open wound is a direct path to infection. If the master works with poorly sterilized instruments, the risk of contracting HIV, viral hepatitis, or herpes increases significantly. As you know, HIV is transmitted through breast milk. Signs of infection include irritation, redness, itching, or pus on or around the tattoo.
Physiology after pregnancy is subject to significant changes. If during the period of gestation the pain threshold is increased, then during lactation the state of the body changes in the opposite direction. As a result, tattooing can seem overwhelming. Moreover, after a session, a nursing mother may temporarily disrupt milk flow. This is due to the sharp fluctuations in the levels of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin which are responsible for the formation of milk.
Complications after the procedure
After tattooing, complications may arise that will require treatment, which, perhaps, is incompatible with breastfeeding. For example, some medicines cannot be used (antibiotics such as erythromycin, sumamed, vilprofen) for the treatment of infectious and inflammatory diseases in order not to lose milk flow.
The unpredictability of the result
It is not advisable to get a tattoo during this life span because of the unpredictability of the result in the future. The main hormone that regulates the secretion of the milk is prolactin. With the help of it, the water-salt balance is controlled, accelerated metabolic processes are launched. As a result, at any time after the healing of the tattoo, such unpleasant phenomena can occur as:
- A change in the color of the pigment — can sharply go from dark brown or black to gray or blue;
- Due to the acceleration of metabolism, the immune cells of the skin begin to actively resist the dye, and the pattern may look like spots or gaps.
Precautions if you decide to get a tattoo while breastfeeding
The following precautions should be taken before getting a tattoo while breastfeeding:
- Ideally, wait until your baby is one year old and does not completely dependent on breast milk.
- Chest tattoos should be avoided.
- The reputation of the tattoo artist or studio is a must.
- Make sure the tattoo artist is using sterilized equipment: apparatus, ink tanks, etc.
- Make sure there is adequate lighting in the studio so that the outline, and the tattoo itself, are done in the desired manner.
- It’s also important that you see the artist wash their hands before starting the process.
- Insist on natural inks and pigments as industrial pigments increase the risk of allergies and produce unpredictable results (bumps, scars), and can also lead to complications in the presence of infection.
- After tattooing, time and attention should be given to the healing of the tattooed area; on average, it takes one to three weeks for a tattoo to heal. Precautions include protecting the tattoo from direct sunlight, avoiding alcohol, using antibiotic gel regularly, and examining the tattoo and surrounding areas frequently for signs of infection.
Before deciding on a tattoo session for the period of breastfeeding, it is recommended to seriously weigh the pros and cons. You can additionally consult with an experienced tattoo artist or knowledgeable medical professional.
If you do decide to get a tattoo, the following precautions are recommended:
- Choose for an experienced tattoo artist and a licensed studio;
- Make sure the equipment is sterile and the studio is clean;
- Choose natural inks and pigments;
- Do not neglect the time and attention for tattoo healing.
🩸 Can tattoo ink pass into breast milk?
Since the molecular structure of tattoo ink is too large, it will not be able to penetrate breast milk if tattooed correctly.
❗ Can a tattoo harm a breastfeeding baby?
Although ink cannot get into breast milk, there are risks during tattooing, such as infection, allergic reactions, complications after the procedure.
📆 When can I get a tattoo while breastfeeding?
Before getting a tattoo, breastfeeding mothers are advised to wait at least 9-12 months after birth, when the baby will no longer depend only on breast milk.
❓ Can milk flow be disturbed after a breastfeeding woman’s tattoo?
Applying a tattoo not only for a breastfeeding mother but also for any person is accompanied by pain and stress. For this reason, milk flow may be temporarily impaired. This is due to the sharp fluctuations in hormone levels. Therefore, it is recommended to pre-express breast milk for several feedings.
🔎 What are other alternatives to getting tattooed while breastfeeding?
If you don’t want to get a tattoo on your body while breastfeeding due to the risk of infections, then a henna tattoo might be something to consider while breastfeeding. We only recommend that you make sure that the henna you will be using is natural and free of chemicals.