Can You Get A Tattoo While Breastfeeding? Safety Concerns For Baby

Tattoos And Breastfeeding: Is New Ink Safe Right Now?

Caucasian mother with tattoos cradling baby
LWA/Dann Tardif/Getty Images

You’re breastfeeding and browsing Pinterest (bless easy breastfeeding positions like the football hold) when you spot an ink design that’s fire. Now you can’t stop thinking about the perfect spot on your body to place it. But before you make an appointment with your tattoo artist, there’s an important question you should consider: Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding? There are numerous health considerations a breastfeeding mom must make, so questioning whether you should get a new mom tattoo is totally normal. Thankfully, your preexisting tattoos don’t bear any ill effects on your baby, but getting a tattoo while breastfeeding can be another story.

While getting a new tattoo is something that you should do if you want, postponing your new ink until you’re postpartum could be a prudent idea, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

Here’s everything you need to know about tattoos and breastfeeding.

Can you breastfeed if you already have a tattoo?

Thankfully, yes. There’s no need to worry here (even if you have a tat on your breast). Tattoos are created by injecting ink into the dermal (second) layer of the skin using a hand-held electric machine fitted with solid needles coated in ink. Truth be told, there are many different additives and impurities in tattoo ink and permanent makeup (PMU). Why? They consist of various compounds, including heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt, and manganese. Synthetic and vegan brands of ink are also available, though.

While there’s not much research on the subject, it’s doubtful that the tattoo ink will get into your milk supply. And since the ink gets sealed underneath the second layer of your skin, your baby’s touch won’t be affected by it or vice versa.

Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?

While it’s awesome if you want to commemorate motherhood with a new tattoo (or get one just ’cause), you might want to hold out for getting some fresh ink while breastfeeding for myriad reasons. We’ll outline a few here to give you some food for thought.

Safety comes first.

While there’s no safety police when it comes to getting a tattoo while breastfeeding (and there isn’t much research on the subject either), there are mixed concerns about it. The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health advises against getting a tattoo if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and some tattoo artists might not want to see you due to liability.

Your body needs rest.

First, it’s best to give your incredibly hard-working body a rest. Part of the reason behind the apprehension of getting a tattoo while pregnant is because you’re more prone to infection postpartum. You’ve just been through a lot with labor and delivery. What follows are a lot of hormonal and physical shifts, not to mention enduring sleep deprivation. And while getting a tattoo is nowhere near the painful or traumatic experience of childbirth, it’s always a good idea to give yourself some major TLC postpartum and not zap your immune system. Otherwise, you might prolong your healing process.

The healing and recovery time will be longer.

Additionally, your current postpartum state might extend the healing and recovery time of your tattoo. Remember that your tattoo will require bandaging and maintenance in the after-care. Do you honestly need the extra hassle of healing a tattoo when your body has already been through so much? Can you see your already-squirmy baby not accidentally grabbing your sore bandage? Nope, we can’t either.

Pregnancy stretched your skin.

As your body adjusts to not being pregnant anymore, your skin — which stretched its elasticity to the max to accommodate carrying your baby — will experience changes as well. So, from an aesthetic standpoint, you might want to wait until your skin gets through this period of readjustment. That way, you’ll be able to see precisely how your tattoo will appear on your body without worrying it’ll change in a week or month.

There’s a risk of infection.

There are risks involved when getting a tattoo, even when you’re not breastfeeding. Some potential causes for concern include an allergic reaction, getting a skin reaction, and/or contracting a blood infection like HIV, hepatitis C, tetanus, or MRSA. Treatments to help these infections might complicate your breastfeeding, and illnesses like HIV can filtrate through your milk system and into your baby. Plus, any infection that you might get carries the risk of spreading to your baby. So, ask yourself if that new ink is genuinely worth the risk.

The takeaway? Get that tattoo — but wait a few months until your baby is off the boob and on the bottle. While there’s very little research on breastfeeding and tattoos, it’s suggested that mothers wait at least until nine to 12 months after birth, when the child is no longer dependent solely on breastmilk, before getting a tattoo. You’ll be in a much healthier state emotionally and physically to enjoy the process more, in addition to proudly wearing the new tattoo you desire without the fear of harming your new baby.