Breastfeeding

FAQ: Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

Looking to get inked up, mama?
Jennifer Taylor

Ready to get some new ink done but are wondering if it’s safe to do so as a breastfeeding mom?

If so, you’re not alone; this is a very common question and you’re right to worry about it.

After all, getting a tattoo means getting ink injected below the skin, and it’s easy to believe that it could find its way into your breast milk supply.

In my opinion: no, it’s not safe to get a tattoo if you’re breastfeeding.

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Why is this? There are a number of risks associated with the whole process of tattooing. I’ll get into them shortly, and I think after reading them you’ll be pretty convinced not to do it.

Besides, you’ll be very hard-pressed to find a reputable tattoo artist that will give a tattoo to a pregnant or breastfeeding woman. Most will outright refuse it, and if someone does agree too it, it would lead me to wonder what kind of deplorable sanitary conditions their equipment might be in.

The Risks Associated With Tattoos & Breastfeeding

First of all, you should know that there have been no official studies done on the effect of tattoos on breastfeeding. We don’t know for sure if there is a direct risk due to the tattoo itself.

From what I’ve read, the ink molecules are too large to make their way into the breast milk supply, and that’s about the only reassurance you get.

You should also know that tattoo ink is not regulated by the FDA for use under the skin.

The risks you should be worried about if you want to get a tattoo and currently breastfeed are as follows:

  • Risk of infection. It’s not uncommon for people to get an infection after getting a tattoo, and this could compromise your immune system. It’s also not unheard of for people to contract things like hepatitis through unclean needles, although this should never happen at a reputable tattoo parlor.
  • Risk of allergic reaction. Some people have allergic reactions to the tattoo ink used, which could disrupt your ability to breastfeed.
  • Risk of reduced milk supply. It’s possible that your body will have a reduced milk supply due to the “trauma” of getting the tattoo.
  • Risk of tattoo rejection. An improperly cared for tattoo has the possibility of being “rejected” by the body; the risk of this is even moreso during the period after birth where the mother’s body is still recovering. This can also lead to infection.

Human milk banks refuse donations from any mother who has had a tattoo done in the past 12 months due to the risk of blood-born pathogens, such as hepatitis.

My Suggestion: Wait It Out

Do you really need to have your tattoo done as soon as possible?

It’s best to wait until your child is no longer completely dependent on your breast milk before you get a tattoo. There’s no reason to risk it, even if the risks are small. What if you end up with an infection or get sick and can no longer breastfeed? It’s just not worth it.

If you wait until your child is no longer 100% dependent on your breast milk, you’re minimizing your risk. It’s the smart option.

Is It Safe To Have a Tattoo Removed While Breastfeeding?

So, you have a fugly tattoo that you really regret and want to get rid of it.

Maybe it’s an ex-boyfriend’s name or one of your regretful favorite bands in high school. Whatever the case is, you’re clearly wondering whether or not it’s safe to get it removed as a breastfeeding mom.

There is very little medical literature on the subject, so it’s hard to say whether or not it’s completely safe. There is the same risk of infection if the treated area is improperly cared for, but the process of having the tattoo removed itself should not be harmful.

I don’t think the possible risk is worth it unless you really hate the tattoo and just can’t wait.

In Conclusion

What’s your take on the subject? Did you get a tattoo while you were breastfeeding or do you agree that it’s a bad idea? Let me know in the comment section below!

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11 Comments

  • NotThePoint
    September 3, 2015

    I enjoyed reading your opinion on this controversial matter until you went the other way by saying, “I don’t think the possible risk is worth it unless you really hate the tattoo and just can’t wait.” One can take from this statement that it is not worth the risk unless they really love the tattoo idea and just can’t wait.

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  • Taylor Grey
    November 19, 2015

    I really like how you explained that there is a risk of infection after getting a tattoo. Especially when you are breastfeeding is probably not the best time because it can affect the milk. I love getting tattoos and I’m probably going to be breast feeding for another year. Thanks for sharing this article because I was really curious to know if it was safe.

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  • Alexis
    June 16, 2016

    This is what I don’t agree with with your article. If you’ve had a tattoo before, you already know how your body reacts to it. You’d know if you were allergic to the ink (which is very rare and the most common allergy is to the red ink), if your body would reject it, and how to take care of the tattoo without it getting infected.

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    • MomTricks Jen
      MomTricks Jen
      June 20, 2016

      Hi Alexis, I guess you do have a point, but I prefer to err on the side of caution personally.

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  • Lavinia
    August 26, 2016

    I will wait, better safe than sorry…

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  • Kpowers
    November 8, 2016

    If you’ve already had a tattoo I’d hope you would know how to care for it. Generally it’s as simple as applying baby aquaphor and not rolling in feces. You make it sound like major surgery. If you’re a newbie and don’t trust the shop don’t do it. But if babies say 6mo+ and you had one before your fine

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  • Stephanie
    January 12, 2017

    Great post! I completely agree with you . You shouldn’t get a tattoo while breastfeeding. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do so.

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  • Nicole
    February 28, 2017

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Caring for a new tattoo is simple, there’s hardly any ‘trama’ and I highly doubt that it could even slightly effect your milk supply. Of you have already gotten a tattoo you would know whether or not you are allergic to the ink, which isn’t a common allergy. Looks like you are personally against it and trying to push your opinion on mom’s looking for answers by using scare tactics of what could go wrong. Tattoos are absolutely fine to get while breastfeeding as long as they are done properly, and cared for the correct way. Keep breastfeeding mamas you’re doing amazing!

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  • Joberry
    July 31, 2017

    The molecular structure of tattoo ink is too large to pass through breastmilk. This means that even though the ink is being put into your skin, it will not actually pass through the breastmilk to your child. The needle is inserted into your skin and reaches the dermal layer.

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