Tattoos are an art form and a way for you to express yourself. Many women wonder if they can get a tattoo while breastfeeding. Some want to get something special to commemorate the life-changing events.
The question that many mothers want to know is are there any risk involved, and will it hurt the nourishment for the child? Most people would think that it’s unsafe and can taint the milk. However, you should really learn the facts about the ink used for this art and how it interacts with the body before making a decision.
Tattoo Ink Goes Into The Second Layer Of Skin
Tattoo ink has a molecular structure that is quite large. That means that ink can be put into your skin, but its large molecules will not pass into the breastmilk. There are three levels of the skin; epidermis, dermal, and hypodermis. The outer layer you touch is the epidermis. The next layer is dermal. This layer contains hair follicles, collagen, and elastic fibers. It also has sweat and sebaceous glands as well as lymphatic vessels. The ink is injected into this layer.
Ink doesn’t go beyond the layer of skin. It doesn’t travel all around the body and poison the system. It’s best to use organic pigments, but even traditional inks tend to be fine. The only concern is when using inks that contain heavy metals. Metals have a way of seeping into other areas, and the arguments for safety and metals are valid.
What About Getting A Breast Tattoo While Nursing?
Many women love to get tattoos on the breast. The location of the artwork can make all the difference in your timing. The breasts are a tender area by nature. When you’re nursing your child, they tend to be even more tender to the touch. Getting a tattoo in this area is not recommended while nursing just because of the pain level involved. You won’t have to worry about the ink, but that doesn’t mean there are no risks.
It’s possible that you could have an allergic reaction to the tattoo dyes. Additionally, you can develop an infection at the site that can be painful. Little granulomas or skin bumps can also occur. While these issues don’t affect the quality of your milk, they can make it impossible to nurse. Anything that is infected near the breast or nipples presents more risks than anywhere else on the body. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition, and getting a tattoo in that area puts proper nourishment in danger.
There is also the concern that the trauma to the area may cause damage to the milk ducts and glands. While there are no records of this on the internet, there is always the possibility. Getting an elaborate tattoo is not a painless process. The whole area scabs over and the original design comes to the surface. Do you really want all of that going on in the area where you nurse?
Here is a quick video by Dr. George Forgan-Smith, giving his opinion about this subject, that could be interesting!
Can I Have A Tattoo Removed While Breastfeeding?
Tattoo removal is done through lasers. These lasers break down the ink to fragment. The fragments are picked up by the body and flushed out. The process is benign. There is no blood, and it doesn’t present much risk. Unfortunately, there are no studies that show how safe or unsafe this procedure is while nursing. When you do anything like this to your body, there is always the risk of systemic infections.
The most significant risk is from localized infection or the ink circulating through the blood. While the particles are still too big to get into the breastmilk, a body infection may render you too weak to nurse. You have time. There is no need to be in a hurry to have a tattoo removed, especially during this season of your life.
Can You Get HIV, Hepatitis or Other Conditions From A Tattoo?
While the ink passing through the milk is a huge concern, another significant matter is the transference of diseases through the needles. True, if you’ve contracted HIV, hepatitis or syphilis while getting a tattoo, it could get into the breast milk and affect the child. However, there is compelling evidence that shows that is never going to happen.
The CDC started keeping track of HIV transmission back in 1985, specifically with tattoos. According to the numbers, you are 30 times more likely to contract a condition like hepatitis from your dentist chair than getting a tattoo. Yes, there is a risk that you could contract some horrible disease, but there are no cases of HIV and only 12 cases of hepatitis since 1985. Now, the CDC was able to track 43 cases where someone contracted hepatitis with the dentist’s office. There are also no references to anyone getting syphilis from the dentist or a tattoo parlor.
Precautions To Ensure Your Experience Is Pleasant
Getting a tattoo while breastfeeding should be done with caution. You can never be too careful when they are injecting ink into your skin.
- Research the place where you get your tattoo. Read customer reviews online, and ask around your area. You will quickly find the sites that follow health department codes and those that have repeated violations. Try to stick with a company that has been around for a while as these places usually don’t make it long if they are not good.
- Always talk to your tattoo artist before they begin. You should see a copy of their license, ask them what precautions they take to minimize infections, and how long they have been doing their job. Ask them where they get their ink too. Organic pigments present less of a risk than metallic.
- Check out your surroundings before you pay a dime. Are they wearing gloves? Does the ink go into individual pots or is it in a large communal pot? Double dipping can cause huge problems if other germs are going in the bowl. Is the equipment sterilized and is the ink gun bagged? Most importantly, they must wash their hands frequently.
Tattoo aftercare is very important. If you are generally healthy, then you have a minimal risk of an infection. There are ways to minimize the risks associated with a tattoo, and they should be followed.
Play The Waiting Game
The consensus is that the best time for a mommy to get a tattoo is after the child is about 12 months old. By then, many babies begin to wean themselves. If your child has not weaned, you still have other options should an infection occur. It’s easier to switch a baby’s milk at 12 months than one at three months. Also, experts say it takes about a year to recover after childbirth.
If you want to get a tattoo that uses heavy metal ink, there is more of a risk that it can travel and pass through the breast glands. Sadly, there are no studies that link tattoos to health issues. So, if you want to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, then you are taking a risk. Life is about chances, but when it involves your child, is it worth it?
References & Additional information:
- Tanning While Breastfeeding. Is It Safe? (What Are The Risks?)
- Tattoos: Does ink travel through your body?
- The Hidden Dangers of Getting Inked
Photo & Video credits: TheHealthyBear.