6 Risks & 3 Precautions While Getting A Tattoo During Pregnancy

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You might want to etch your pregnancy memories forever. An apt tattoo — on your belly, shoulder, back or elsewhere — will remind you of those memorable days when your little one was still in your womb, and you used to feel their movements and kicks.

Getting a tattoo done during pregnancy is a cool idea, but is it a wise idea? MomJunction tells you if it is safe to get a tattoo done during pregnancy, what are the risks associated with it, and precautions you should take.

Is It Safe To Get A Tattoo Done During Pregnancy

It is not recommended to get a tattoo done during during pregnancy because of the risk of contracting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.

Also, skin dyes that are used in the tattoo contain chemicals, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and may affect the development of your baby, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (1).

Moreover, after delivery, the tattoo might not look the same as before. The area might develop stretch marks making it look unappealing. A tattoo on your pregnant belly looks symmetrical, but it might get distorted post-pregnancy.

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What Are The Risks Associated With Getting A Tattoo During Pregnancy?

It is not necessarily true that a tattoo will always have a negative impact on your pregnancy. However, you cannot rule out the risks involved. Here are a few risks of getting a tattoo while pregnant (2) (3) (4):

  1. You cannot be sure about the safety of the needles used. You would not know if the needle being used is thoroughly sterilized/ a new one. A non-sterilized needle can put you at the risk of contracting infections like Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS. And the infections could be transferred from you to the fetus.
  1. The pain might be stressful. While getting the tattoo done during pregnancy you might faint due to the unbearable piercing pain. Anesthesia can help ease the pain but is not advisable as it can also have potential adverse effects on your baby.
  1. Susceptible to infections. The tattooing process causes tiny wounds that create an open space for microbial infection to settle. The symptoms of infection include:
  • Irritation or itchiness at the area of the tattoo
  • Fever as the body tries to ward off the infection
  • Small blisters filled with clear pus or fluids
  • Green or yellow pus discharge with a foul smell from the area of the tattoo due to the accumulation of dead leukocytes, which are produced to fight the infection
  • Skin inflammation leading to swelling, warmth, and redness
  • Red, dark lines around the tattoo area could indicate a serious medical condition called sepsis or blood poisoning. This happens when the infection enters the bloodstream.
  1. Difficult during epidural anesthesia. Epidural anesthetic is administered during labor at your lower back (5). If you already have a tattoo on the lower back then it fine. But, if the tattoo is freshly done towards your due date then the epidural cannot be administered as the tattoo takes almost a month to heal.
  1. Tattoo ink gets absorbed into the skin. However, there are no studies to determine the effect of the ink colors on your unborn baby.
  1. The unbearable pain and stress that you may experience during piercing could induce labor leading to premature delivery (6).

The risks may seem small, but they are not worth taking during pregnancy. But, if you have a strong urge to get tattooed and cannot resist it anymore, then you may go ahead with it while taking some precautions.

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Precautions To Take While Getting A Tattoo During Pregnancy

If you are determined to have a tattoo while pregnant, then consider the following precautions:

  1. Choose a licensed practitioner: Ensure that the tattoo artist is licensed and is a registered practitioner (if your state registers tattoo artists). The artist must be available in the first 24 hours if you face any problem due to the procedure.
  1. The equipment must be clean: Make sure that you visit a parlor, which is clean and hygienic.
  • Check if they sterilize the equipment and needles being used for the tattoo
  • Ensure that they use new needles
  • Make sure that they use sterile water for mixing the inks. Moreover, the inks used should be unopened
  1. Hygiene of the tattoo artist: The tattoo artist must use disposable latex gloves while carving the tattoo. Make sure that they place the ink in single-use cups that can be thrown away after use.
  1. Follow aftercare instructions: Once you get the tattoo done, follow the aftercare instructions given by the tattoo artist.
  1. Consult your doctor: Before you go for a tattoo, talk to your doctor and confirm if it is safe for you to get it done.

If you think that you should wait until your delivery before getting a tattoo done, then you might go for a temporary one to satisfy your urge.

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What Are The Temporary Alternatives To A Tattoo?

Temporary tattoos can be as beautiful as the permanent one. Here are some options:

  • You can use a sticker tattoo, which stays on your skin for a couple of days.
  • Consider a henna tattoo if you want it for a longer period. Use the henna, which is chemical-free and is made of natural herbs. This natural alternative will not only satisfy your yearning but also cool down your body temperature.

Let us know more about this natural alternative to the tattoo.

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More about a henna tattoo

Henna gives you a safe and elegant alternative to tattoos. It can last for around two weeks. It stains your skin in orange, red, brown, cinnamon, brick, chocolate, or coffee color.

However, make sure not to use black henna as it contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause blisters, burns and other skin reactions.

Here is how henna is applied:

Here is how henna is applied

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  • The paste is made from henna powder, sugar, water, and essential oil. However, some essential oils need to be avoided during pregnancy.
  • The paste is packed into elongated cones, which have a tiny hole for the paste to leak out when you press.
  • Intricate designs are made with it and are left to dry for an hour.
  • Once it is dry, wash it off with water.

The temporary tattoos are very short-lived, and you might want to get them frequently done.

In the next section, we cover some commonly asked questions on this subject.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can I get a tattoo while pregnant if I suffer from certain skin conditions?

Skin conditions can make tattooing more painful. It is good to avoid tattoos if you have conditions such as PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy), prurigo of pregnancy, impetigo herpetiformis, and hyperpigmentation.

2. Will an existing tattoo create any problem during pregnancy?

If you already have a tattoo, then there is nothing to worry about it. However, when your body shrinks back after pregnancy, it can leave stretch marks making your tattoo appear discolored and distorted.

Pregnant or not, the decision to get a permanent tattoo must not be made overnight. Think about it and discuss with your family and friends. Also, decide about the design and why you want it because once done, getting a tattoo removed is not easy. Wait until your delivery so that you have enough time to decide.

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[ Read: Hair Color During Pregnancy ]

What are your ideas on tattooing during pregnancy? Let us know in the comment section.

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shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more