Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?

tattoo while pregnant

Stay away from sushi. Don’t eat deli meat, or canned tuna fish or smoked salmon. Only decaf when you order your Starbucks latte. Oh, and skip the wine or beer with dinner, too. Keep away from the kitty litter. Definitely no hanging out in a hot tub or sauna right now.  Don’t color your hair. Well, that  may be OK actually, it all depends who you ask….sounds familiar?

There are clearly plenty of dos and don'ts during those nine beautiful months it takes to grow a baby, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering which side of the dos and don’ts  list ‘getting a tattoo while you’re pregnant’ falls on. Sorry to disappoint, but if you were looking here for a definitive YES you can, or NO you cannot get a tattoo during your pregnancy, there is really no hard and fast ruling by any overwhelming majority of respected authorities on this subject.

The biggest concern with getting a tattoo during pregnancy is the risk of contracting an infection—Hepatitis B, C and HIV at the top of the list. The chances of passing an infectious disease on to your unborn baby are generally pretty low, but there’s still a risk.

There is very little information available about the safety of the dyes used for tattooing during pregnancy.  Some say there is a  possibility that the chemicals in the dyes could affect the development of the baby, particularly during the first trimester.  To be honest, there are so few studies done on getting tattoos during pregnancy that researchers don’t seem to really know what the effects are during any trimester of a pregnancy.

Nonetheless, there are definitely a handful of important points to confirm if you are choosing to get a tattoo during pregnancy—in fact, they are just important details for anyone considering getting a tattoo.

Before making an appointment, visit the tattoo artist in their shop and verify:

  • If your state has regulations, insure the tattoo artist/shop are registered 
  • Gloves are ALWAYS worn when working
  • They have proper sterilizing equipment 
  • The place looks and feels clean
  • Needles are all single use, new and disposable
  • The dyes or ink used for the tattoo are also sterile packed and unopened
  • Dressings and bandages are all sterile and packaged

Another consideration, albeit a smaller one, is having an epidural during labor.  Even if you don’t get the tattoo during pregnancy, but you have gotten one in the past 6 months—specifically on the back. If a newer tattoo on your back happens to be in the area where the anesthesiologist would need to insert the epidural needle, there’s a concern that the ink isn’t completely set and could become displaced by the epidural needle. If this did happen, the danger is the ink could cause a reaction which may result in a type of scar tissue forming in that area.

A woman’s immune system is typically more vulnerable during pregnancy, and hormones play their part as well, wreaking havoc on an otherwise healthy body.  Getting a tattoo definitely runs a risk of compromising the immune system due to the open wound that results. Even if the concern for infection is rather low, there’s still the matter of pain and discomfort, and since pregnancy is already a somewhat uncomfortable time for many, it may not be desirable to add more pain and discomfort from a tattoo and the associated healing during pregnancy.

Overall, the ‘experts’ seem to advise that while the risk is still pretty low, why take any added risk that is not necessary. Your best, safest bet is probably to just wait it out and get that new tattoo sometime after your baby is born.