Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 15, 2019
    Last Updated: November 8, 2020

Congratulations on your baby! We hope parenting comes easy for you, and you’re enjoying the precious new person in your life. We also hope that your baby has taken well to breastfeeding. 

Do you have a tattoo appointment booked or some ideas for a new design and aren’t sure if you can get one while breastfeeding? Well, this issue isn’t as black and white as you may assume.

You can get a tattoo while breastfeeding, but the subject has a lot of grey areas. You need to be informed of best practices. Find out: what the law says, associated cultural implications, the risks involved, and how to mitigate the risks.

What Does the Law Say?

There’s no law against getting a tattoo while you’re breastfeeding. Does that mean that when you walk into the parlor, the tattooist won’t have any concerns? No. 

Does that mean that every artist is comfortable with inking a breastfeeding mother? No. Some even have waivers that specifically mention excluding clients who are nursing. 

If the government isn’t concerned enough to make it illegal, you might wonder what exactly the issue is. Well, there are a few. 

What Are the Risks of Getting a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

Inking pierces the skin, which in itself carries a degree of risk of infections. While breastfeeding, you need to be as healthy as possible for the baby’s sake. Let’s take a keener look at the risks:

Risk of Infection 

One study found that between 0.5 and 6 percent of tattoos become infected. There are other health concerns associated with allergic reactions and bloodborne diseases as a result of contaminated equipment.

Always choose a reputable, clean tattoo parlor over anything else. 

Since the likelihood of infection seems to be present regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or not, what difference does it make? 

Consider this: if you were to succumb to infection, not all medications are compatible with breastfeeding. Not to mention that there are concerns that antibacterial medication may blunt the benefits of breast milk.

Tattoo Placement vs. Baby Comfort 

A tattoo takes 2–3 weeks to heal. Now, imagine that the ink is on your: 

  • Breast
  • Stomach
  • Waist
  • Shoulder
  • Arm 

Basically, places where the baby is likely to be pressed up against. 

Do you think that wound is going to have an easy time healing? Not at all. It’s going to get rubbed and scratched: either by the baby or potentially by any form of covering you use when you feed in public—shoulder tattoos, especially.

Friction will both increase the risk of infection and potentially lead to you to have the tattoo redone. Now, redoing won’t solve much if the baby is still as demanding. You’re best to avoid these areas when getting a tattoo altogether.

Making breastmilk takes a lot of energy. Healing from a tattoo properly also takes a lot of your body’s energy. One of these two will suffer if you are doing both simultaneously.

If you are keen on getting your ink on any of these body parts, settle for a small design that won’t require too much healing time.

Your Body Is Still Changing 

The average woman gains between 25 to 35 pounds during her pregnancy, and dropping that weight off again can take a year or longer.

Not every woman will go back to her original pre-pregnancy shape, even though she may try. However, you’re likely to drop a good chunk of that extra weight as time goes by. Considering this, do you see what the issue might be when it comes to getting a tattoo? 

Imagine if you should be lucky, or unlucky, and drop weight fast. Skin doesn’t always contract quickly enough to keep up with sudden weight loss. Consequently, your skin loses its stretch and begins to sag, and the tattoo no longer looks as tight and defined as it did before. 

Of course, this can be mitigated by losing weight at a slower and healthier pace. Some tattooists may even recommend waiting until your body settles into a more stable size. However, don’t become disheartened as there are many success stories of how major weight loss resulted in little or no tattoo distortion.

If it’s not your first child, you probably have an idea of how your body will behave. Only get elaborate ink designs if you’re sure you’re unlikely to drop the extra pounds too quickly.

The Bottom Line 

Getting a tattoo while breastfeeding is a rather grey area. Some of the associated risks are common to inking independent of nursing, but they may get a little heightened when you’re breastfeeding. 

Tattooists may also be hesitant to tattoo you or reject you outrightly. Don’t be mad; be glad that they’re being sensible and trying to avoid associated health issues. It’s best to wait until after your baby is done breastfeeding before getting a tattoo for many reasons.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.​

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