Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?

Maybe you’ve thought of remembering this special time in your life by getting a tattoo, or maybe you have concerns about existing tattoos during pregnancy. Mostly, you just want everything to be safe for you and your baby. This information will be helpful for you as you take care of the tattoos you already have and decide whether or not to get a tattoo during pregnancy.

Tattoos During Pregnancy: First things first – SAFETY

Make sure that your tattoo artist follows or was following these guidelines:

  • They are a registered practitioner (if your state registers tattoo artists).
  • They always wear gloves during the procedure.
  • They have an autoclave (sterilizing unit to sterilize equipment).
  • The floors and surfaces are all clean.
  • All the needles used are new, disposable, and made for single use only.
  • The dressings are sterile, packed, and unopened.
  • The dyes or ink used for the tattoo are also sterile packed and unopened.
  • The artist is available for the first 24 hours if you have any problems. (Find out the availability of the artist if you have any problems in the days and months ahead).

If you have a tattoo and question the practices of the facility where you had it done, make sure you are tested for Hepatitis, HIV, and Syphilis.

Think it through

The main concern with getting a tattoo during pregnancy is the risk of contracting an infection, such as Hepatitis B and HIV. Although the risk is small, it is recommended that you wait to get a tattoo until after your baby is born.

Little information is available about the safety of skin dyes used for tattooing during pregnancy. It is possible that the chemicals in the dye may affect the development of the baby during the first 12 weeks. However, the risks are unknown, as are any effects on the baby during the remainder of the pregnancy.

Some women may have also heard that if they have a tattoo on their back, they will be unable to get an epidural. Very few studies have been done on the risks that could exist for women who have back tattoos and receive an epidural. So far none of these studies have conclusively found any data that indicates there are risks, so most anesthesiologists have no problem giving an epidural to a woman with a back tattoo.

If you want an epidural and have a tattoo on your back, it still would be best to contact the hospital and find out the policy in regard to tattoos and epidurals. Additionally, you could pass the infection to your baby if you are breastfeeding, although the risk is small. Ultimately it’s your decision, but you may want to wait until you are not breastfeeding to get a new tattoo.

What about Henna?

For thousands of years, women in Egypt, India, and much of the Middle East have brought “good luck” to their pregnancies by applying beautiful designs of henna on their pregnant bellies in the third trimester. According to legend, henna will bring safety in childbirth and a happy baby.

If you are interested in this temporary alternative, be aware that there are different types of henna. Natural, safe henna stains the skin orange, red, brown, cinnamon, brick, chocolate, or coffee and can last one to four weeks. Natural, safe henna does not come in the color black. You want to be absolutely sure the artist is using pure, natural products and NOT black henna.

Black henna is not safe for anyone, pregnant or not. Black henna contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which causes burns, blisters and various reactions that may last for months and is difficult to diagnose and treat.
If you have concerns about an existing tattoo or henna, talk with your healthcare provider.

Compiled using information from the following sources:
The Henna Page
Alliance of Professional Tattooist

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