Can You Get a Tattoo While ...

Whether you are already a seasoned member of the Tattooed Mom’s Club, or considering your first ink, you may be wondering if you should be getting a tattoo while breastfeeding! Especially if you plan to breastfeed for a long time, it can be difficult to wait once you have your next idea in mind.
While there are mixed opinions on if it is safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, there is not much official data. No health organization has yet made a formal statement about the safety of tattoos for breastfeeding moms.
While there are no specific rules or regulations in regard to getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, there are a few things you can keep in mind when deciding whether or not to head to the tattoo shop.

The ink itself won’t affect a breastfed baby

Because tattoo ink is deposited into the dermis (the second layer of skin) and not into the blood or passed into breastmilk, the ink itself does not pose a real concern for a breastfed baby. The main concern that has been expressed in regard to tattoo ink is that if someone were to receive a tattoo with ink that carries bacteria, an infection could occur.
There have also been rare instances of painful allergic reactions to tattoo ink. If you have never had a tattoo before, make sure to disclose any known allergies to the tattoo artist before beginning, or consider waiting until after you have weaned.

Risk of infection is low, but possible 

Another risk to be considered is the risk of infection from a needle that hasn’t been sterilized properly. Infections can sometimes pass through the breastmilk or through blood from cracked or sore nipples during breastfeeding.
The likelihood of contracting an infection when getting a tattoo is the same as when you aren’t breastfeeding...that is, it is very rare when you take the appropriate precautions and follow after-care directions.
Some experts recommend waiting until your baby is a bit older (about 9-12 months) and eating solid foods in addition to breastfeeding, just in case you do encounter this rare complication and need to discontinue breastfeeding for any amount of time.

Reduce risks by only going to reputable tattoo shops

Licensed tattoo artists and shops have strict health and safety guidelines they are expected to follow. Many shops opt for single-use needles and use well-sterilized equipment, which significantly reduces any risk of infection.
If you are getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, make sure to choose a reputable, licensed shop. Search for reviews related to sanitation and cleanliness, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their sterilization practices!
A good artist should be more than willing to answer your questions and walk you through the process in order to make you feel comfortable with your choice.

Consider the placement of your tattoo

Even a tattoo that is safely done in a licensed shop will cause some localized pain and swelling as it heals. As you are breastfeeding, consider not only where your baby rests on your body, but where they like to hit, kick, and grab!
The last thing you want is a set of razor-sharp baby fingernails to scratch a still-tender tattoo. You also will want to make sure it is an area that you are able to air our frequently and keep clean, in order to promote quick healing.

Certain health conditions might mean higher risks

Heart diseases, auto-immune conditions, and certain blood clotting disorders are all conditions that may add extra risk when getting tattooed while breastfeeding. Make sure to consult with your doctor about the risks involved when getting a tattoo under these conditions. In some cases, the safest option will be to wait until you are done breastfeeding.
Typically, the same health conditions that might make it unsafe for you to get a tattoo will be the ones to watch for when it comes to the safety of your breastfed baby. If you have needed to be cleared by a doctor in the past to get a tattoo, make sure to do a quick check in with them to make sure it’s still a safe choice while breastfeeding.

If you feel uncomfortable, wait for weaning

It can be frustrating when there is not a lot of research or clear answer on whether or not something is safe for you and your baby while you are breastfeeding. You always want to make sure you are keeping your child safe!
As with a lot of parenting decisions you might face, it is important to do your research, talk to a healthcare expert if you need clarification, and follow your instincts!
If you are totally comfortable with the idea of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, and you have considered any medical conditions or other risk factors, it is a fairly low-risk choice that many moms make every day.
However, if something about it feels concerning to you, just wait for a little while! Listening to those mom instincts is a skill that will benefit you throughout your breastfeeding journey and beyond, and that tattoo will still be waiting for you in a few months.