Getting Tattoos During Pregnancy: Risks & Safety Tips

Getting a Tattoo When Pregnant

Pregnancy is a time when memories are made, and you may want to cherish this phase by etching a beautiful tattoo on your body. But before you consider the feasibility of this idea, it is advised that you read and understand all the information that is associated with tattoos and pregnancy so that you can make an informed decision.

Is Getting a Tattoo During Pregnancy Considered Safe?

While there isn’t enough research about the effects of getting a tattoo during pregnancy, many doctors advise against it. It is mainly because it can increase the risk of getting infections like HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Also, since there is a chance the infection can reach your baby, if you get infected, it can be deemed unsafe to get a tattoo when you’re pregnant.

There isn’t a lot of relevant information out there about the effect of inks and tattoo dyes on the foetus. Hence, it may be wise to avoid risk.

Risks of Getting Tattoos While Pregnant

Tattoos may not adversely affect your pregnancy; however, that does not rule out the risks that are associated with the entire process involved. Some of the risks that you can face are:

  1. You will not be able to ensure how safe the needles being used are. This can mean that an infected needle carrying infections like HIV or Hepatitis B can put you and the baby at risk of contracting these diseases.

2. The process of being tattooed may cause minute wounds on your skin, making them preferred sites for microbes to settle in and cause infections. Some of the symptoms of an infection include:

  • Fever.
  • Irritation, redness, or itching at the site of the tattoo.
  • Blisters around the tattoo that contain pus or fluids.
  • Foul-smelling yellow discharge from the infections on the tattoo.
  • Red or dark-coloured lines around the area of the tattoo. This can be dangerous as it can indicate blood poisoning or sepsis caused when the injections seep into the bloodstream.
  • Hard tissue formation at the site of the tattoo.

3. How the chemicals in tattoo dyes affect babies isn’t being studied adequately. However, it is possible that small amounts of chemicals that don’t cause adults any harm may be harmful to the foetus.

4. If your tattoo hasn’t healed until your delivery, the anesthesiologist will not give you an epidural to prevent the risk of infection.

Tattoos in Pregnancy

5. The pain caused by the needles may trigger stress in you and affect the baby. It may also cause premature labour in some instances.

6. Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Your skin, especially on the stomach, stretches out to accommodate the new baby. While the tattoo may look great on your pregnancy skin, your post-pregnancy tattoo may not look the same due to stretch marks and the like.

7. Certain skin conditions like Prurigo, PUPP or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques Of Pregnancy, and Impetigo herpetiformis, which is a form of psoriasis, can make it painful to get a tattoo.

As mentioned earlier, the anesthesiologist may not give you an epidural to prevent the risk of infection, especially if your tattoo hasn’t healed. The decision to get an epidural thus depends on the healing of your tattooed skin. But, there’s more. Continue reading to know about it.

Can Tattoos Affect the Chances of Getting an Epidural?

Epidural is a pain relief local anaesthetic administered to pregnant women during labour and delivery if the woman opts for it. The needle for the epidural is injected into the lower back, which is a popular site for tattoos for most women. In case you have a recent tattoo in that area, which hasn’t completely healed, you may get an infection. The duration for a tattoo to heal is anywhere between two weeks to a month. Hence, it is advised that you don’t get a tattoo very close to the date of your delivery.

However, if you have had a tattoo before your pregnancy, there shouldn’t be any problem with an epidural. But the site where the needle was injected could develop some scar tissue, which could alter the look of your tattoo.

What About a Henna Tattoo?

A henna tattoo is a natural and temporary alternative to a permanent tattoo. Made of henna powder, water, sugar and certain essential oils, these tattoos can stay up to weeks, fulfilling your desire for a tattoo. Henna can also help cool down your body temperature. However, you will need to be careful to stay away from black henna, as it can cause skin reactions like blisters, irritation, and burns, due to the para-phenylenediamine (PPD) content in it.

Henna Tattoo in pregnancy

You also have the option of getting sticker tattoos, which stay for a few days, if you want another alternative.

How to Get a Tattoo Safely

If you have weighed your risks and decided to get a tattoo while you’re pregnant, you will need to take precautions to evade any risks. Here are some of the ways this can be achieved:

  • Inform your tattooist before your appointment that you are pregnant so that extra precautions are taken.
  • You may also want to hold off getting a tattoo until the second trimester, until your baby’s bones, nerves and the muscles have entirely developed, to prevent any risks.
  • Ensure that your tattooist is registered and has a license.
  • Make sure the equipment being used is clean and sanitised. It is ideal if the parlour has an autoclave, a machine used to sterilise needles and equipment.
    Getting a tattoo Safely
  • Visit the parlour or enquire about the parlour to ensure the place is hygienic.
  • Ensure that the tattooist is wearing disposable latex gloves while performing the procedure.
  • Ask for new needles to be used and make sure they are opened right in front of you.
  • Sterile water should be used to mix inks. Also, the ink should be used from disposable single-use cups.
  • The dressings used should be all sterile. They should come from an unopened pack.
  • Ensure the availability of the tattooist for at least 24 hours after you get to tattoo in case a problem arises.

The decision to get a tattoo during pregnancy should be made carefully, keeping all parameters in mind, to ensure there is no risk to the baby. Before you get a tattoo, discuss the feasibility of the idea with your medical practitioner, and follow the aftercare instructions carefully to ensure safety if you get one.

Also Read: A Complete Guide to Pre-Pregnancy Check-Up & Tests

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