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Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural process that provides numerous benefits to both mother and baby. During this special time, many new mothers might wonder if they can continue to express their individuality through body art, specifically tattoos, without compromising the health and well-being of their little one.

While there are varying opinions on the matter, it seems that the general consensus is that getting a tattoo while breastfeeding may not be the safest choice. The primary concern is the risk of infection, as postpartum bodies are more susceptible to infections in general. Additionally, reputable tattoo artists often have waivers for clients to sign that ask about pregnancy and breastfeeding status. It is worth discussing with a healthcare professional if you are considering a tattoo while breastfeeding because, ultimately, the health of both you and your baby is of the utmost importance.

Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding?

As a breastfeeding mom, I remember wondering if it was safe to get a tattoo while nursing my little one. After doing some research, I found out that there are mixed opinions on this topic. However, it is generally considered safe for a nursing mom to get a tattoo, as the ink molecules are too large to make it into breast milk1. This means your baby won't be exposed to the ink during breastfeeding.

That being said, there are some important precautions to consider before getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. Choosing a reputable and licensed tattoo artist is crucial, as the risk of infection can be a concern. An unhygienic environment, contaminated equipment, or unsterilized tools could potentially result in infections, slowing down your healing process and even affecting your baby's health. Remember to always discuss your intentions with the tattoo artist and let them know that you are breastfeeding.

After getting your tattoo, proper aftercare is essential. Following the artist's instructions and keeping the area clean will help reduce the risk of infection. In case of any unusual symptoms or complications, such as fever, chills, or pus around the tattoo, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider right away.

Some moms might worry about the timing of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. While there is no specific rule for when you can resume getting a tattoo after giving birth, itmight be a good idea to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate time for both you and your baby.

In conclusion, getting a tattoo while breastfeeding can be safe as long as you take the necessary precautions, choose a reputable artist, and follow proper aftercare instructions. Don't forget to consult with your healthcare provider before making your decision, as they can give you personalized advice based on your specific situation.

General Risks of Tattoos

As a breastfeeding mom, it's important to understand the general risks associated with getting a tattoo, even if they aren't specific to the breastfeeding process. These risks can include infection, allergic reactions, pain, and scarring.

Infection Risk

One of the primary risks of getting a tattoo is the potential for infection. Infections can occur locally at the site of the tattoo if proper aftercare measures are not followed. Additionally, systemic infections might develop if the tattooing process introduces harmful bacteria. Both local and systemic infections can negatively impact my overall health, and therefore, possibly have an effect on breastfeeding.

Allergic Reaction Risk

Another potential risk of getting a tattoo is an allergic reaction to the ink used. Red inks have a higher incidence of causing allergic reactions, even if I've had many tattoos before without any issues. An allergic reaction can result in inflammation, itching, and discomfort, which could directly or indirectly impact my ability to nurse and care for my baby.

Pain and Scarring

Lastly, the pain experienced during the tattooing process can be quite significant for some individuals. The body's stress response to pain has the potential to temporarily decrease milk supply. In some cases, scarring may occur after the tattoo has healed. Although this isn't directly related to breastfeeding, I would want to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding to get a tattoo during this time.

In summary, while tattoos may not directly impact breastfeeding, it's essential to consider the general risks associated with any tattoo procedure. As a breastfeeding mom, I should prioritize my health and my baby's well-being while contemplating a decision about getting a tattoo.

Specific Risks for Nursing Mothers

As a nursing mother, I understand that there are concerns when it comes to getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. In this section, we'll discuss the specific risks that might arise, including risks to breast milk supply, infection transmission through breast milk, and risks to the nipples.

Risks to Breast Milk Supply

When it comes to my breast milk supply, getting a tattoo generally does not pose a direct risk. The tattoo ink is sealed under the skin, so it's unlikely to reach my milk supply. Nevertheless, it is essential for me to ensure that the tattoo parlor and artist follow proper hygiene procedures to minimize any risk of infection.

Infection Transmission Through Breast Milk

The main concern for me as a breastfeeding mother is the risk of transmitting infections like HIV or hepatitis through breast milk. Although this risk is minimal when getting a tattoo with sterile equipment and proper hygiene precautions, it is still worth considering when deciding whether or not to get a tattoo. If I were to contract HIV or hepatitis, there is a chance of passing it on to my baby through breast milk, particularly if I have cracked or bleeding nipples.

  • Hepatitis B: In addition to HIV and other bloodborne infections, hepatitis B poses a threat to me and my baby if contracted through non-sterile tattoo needles. Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through breast milk, so it's essential to take proper precautions.

Risks to the Nipples

Although the placement of a tattoo does not increase the risk to my nipples while breastfeeding, the process itself can cause temporary damage and irritation. If I choose to get a tattoo on or near my nipples, it is crucial to follow proper aftercare procedures to minimize the risk of local infections. This might also be a good time to consult with a lactation consultant to ensure I am taking all necessary precautions.

In conclusion, while there are some specific risks that I, as a nursing mother, should consider before getting a tattoo, these risks can be minimized by following proper infection control procedures and aftercare instructions.

Precautions and Safety Measures for Tattoos While Breastfeeding

Choosing a Reputable Tattoo Artist

I know how important it is to find a reputable tattoo artist if I decide to get a tattoo while breastfeeding. Ensuring that the tattoo artist is licensed and follows proper regulations is crucial in maintaining safety. I'll make sure to:

  • Check if the artist is in a clean and well-organized establishment.
  • Verify their license and make sure it's up to date.
  • Observe if the artist wears gloves and uses sterilized equipment.

Proper Aftercare

Taking care of the tattoo after its completion is an essential step in preventing infections. Since I'm breastfeeding, I have to be extra careful. I'll make sure to:

  • Keep the tattoo clean with mild soap and water.
  • Follow the tattoo artist's aftercare instructions.
  • Reach out to my healthcare provider or pediatrician if I notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or oozing.
  • Avoid using strong medications if not prescribed by the doctor, as some may pass into the breast milk.

Considering Tattoo Removal

I understand that some people might contemplate removing their tattoos for various reasons. If I ever decide to have a tattoo removed while breastfeeding, I must:

  • Consult my healthcare provider and pediatrician about the safety of tattoo removal methods like lasers during breastfeeding.
  • Ask about the potential risks associated with tattoo removal and the possible effects on my breast milk.
  • Discuss alternative removal methods with my doctor.

Alternatives to Traditional Tattoos

While considering self-expression during the breastfeeding phase, it is essential to explore alternative options to traditional tattoos that are safe for both the mother and the baby. The following sub-sections will delve into Henna Tattoos and Symbolic Jewelry as potential alternatives.

Henna Tattoos

One popular alternative to traditional tattoos is Henna, a natural and temporary form of body art. Henna tattoos are created by applying a paste made from the henna plant to the skin. The paste stains the skin, leaving a design that can last for one to three weeks, depending on the quality of the henna and how well it is taken care of.

Personally, I find henna tattoos to be a great way to express my individuality without any risk of complications during breastfeeding. Their spiritual significance in various cultures also appeals to me as a way of connecting with something larger than myself. Plus, with henna, I can change up my designs frequently, allowing me to celebrate different aspects of life and motherhood.

Symbolic Jewelry

Another option for self-expression during the breastfeeding phase is symbolic jewelry. Wearing pieces with personal or spiritual significance is a beautiful way to honor our journeys as mothers. I appreciate how symbolic jewelry can be tailored to our unique stories, incorporating elements such as birthstones, meaningful symbols, and personalized engravings.

One idea I like to consider is having a piece of jewelry that represents my child's birth, such as a pendant with their birthstone or a charm with their initials. This allows me to keep them close to my heart and serves as a daily reminder of the incredible bond we share through breastfeeding.

By exploring alternatives like henna tattoos and symbolic jewelry, mothers looking to express themselves during the breastfeeding phase can do so safely and beautifully. These options provide the opportunity to reflect our inner worlds and connections with our children on our skin and through the meaningful pieces we wear.


  1. Natasha Burgert, M.D., "Can you get a tattoo while breastfeeding?", BabyCenter, November 9, 2022.