Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?

Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?

Getting a tattoo and having a child are choices that define who we are. Big life decisions do not have to be scary, they just mean you should definitely do your research first.

You can get a tattoo while pregnant, but should you?

It may not be worth the risks to get a new tattoo while pregnant for several reasons. Overall, medical experts have come to a consensus; they advise women against getting a tattoo while they are expecting. Instead, it is best to wait until after your child is born. Why?

Well, first of all, getting a tattoo increases your risk of contracting various infection, including severe long-term infections such as HIV or Hepatitis B. While you are pregnant, it is easy to pass any infection on to your baby through shared blood. Infections can even be transmitted after pregnancy while you are breastfeeding, since your milk is a bodily fluid potentially carrying pathogens you have contracted through blood. It is smart to minimize all your potential sources of infections while you are pregnant, for your health as well as that of your child.

Second, according to research from the American Pregnancy Association, there is very little information available on the safety of tattoo inks during pregnancy. Scientific uncertainty creates many unknown dangers about chemical impacts on maternal and prenatal health. Experts do know it is possible that the chemicals in the tattoo ink may affect the development of the baby during the first twelve weeks of development.

Even if I do not get a new tattoo, will my pregnancy have an effect on the appearance of my current tattoos?

If you do decide to get a tattoo, taking into account and accepting the critical health risks we have presented, there are still two major aesthetic risks that should alarm you about pregnancy and tattoos. Your existing tattoos, particularly tattoos on the abdomen and breasts, will be subject to discoloration and distortion. Pregnancy affects every inch of your body inside and out, so it is no surprise that your skin will change drastically, especially in the areas where your skin stretches and reshapes to make room for the baby to grow. This means that ink on this shifting skin will easily be discolored and distorted at any point throughout and after your pregnancy.

Getting pregnant will change not only your life and family, but also your tattoo. When you want to get inked on your abdomen, it is best to do so after you give birth to your last child, or after you have made a final decision not to have a baby. The skin changes that come along with pregnancy will have irreversible effects on your tattoo. Unfortunately, not even a tattoo retouch can offer salvation from these skin changes. Pregnancy leads to deep stretch marks and skin discoloration, particularly of the linea nigra, the “happy trail,” when your tummy expands as the baby grows.

Tattoo geometry before and after pregnancy
Tattoo geometry before and after pregnancy

If you want to get a tattoo during the stage of your life where you are planning to have children, consider getting tattooed on body parts that are not as dramatically affected by pregnancy, such as hands, legs, arms, shoulders and back. Overall, it is still best to wait until after your child’s birth to get your tattoos. If you need a little extra incentive to wait, remember that it is never advised to get a tattoo when you are at your heaviest weight and widest size. It might be best to wait until after you have lost some of your extra post-pregnancy weight to get a new tattoo when your skin is back in its “normal” condition. Otherwise, all the expanding and contracting of your skin during this time will prevent you from creating your ideal, dream tattoo. You are going to have your body art forever, so you should want to keep it as perfect as possible! This likely means waiting until after you give birth.

Shape and image distortion of a tattoo while pregnant
Shape and image distortion of a tattoo while pregnant

So what if I already have tattoos on my abdomen and body parts that change with pregnancy?

Do not panic! You can contact your tattooist for advice on how to take care of your existing tattoos while you are pregnant. Make sure to moisturize your skin regularly; proper skin care is a proven way of improving your skin's elasticity, strength, and appearance. Most professionals recommend using fragrance-free lotion, petroleum jelly, or coconut oil. The condition of the skin – pregnant or not – always differs from person to person, so it is recommended you speak to your doctor about your personalized skincare needs. It is extremely important to keep your protective layers of skin healthy not only to preserve your tattoos throughout pregnancy, but also to keep your body safe from infections that will affect both you and your baby.

What about temporary henna tattoos? Are they safe?

All-natural henna tattoos are technically safe for pregnant women, but be a careful and conscious consumer. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pure, natural products that stain the skin orange, red, and brown are safe for everyone. Black henna, however, contains a very dangerous chemical called para-phenylendiamine (PPD). PPD is not safe for pregnant women or really anyone at all. No matter what, you should always consult your healthcare provider first before you decide to get a henna tattoo, just to be certain, since you are not just taking care of yourself, but two beautiful people now!