Is it Safe to Get Tattoos While Pregnant?

Expectant girl leaning against wall


Getting Tattooed When Pregnant Can Be Safe If You're Careful

Pregnancy is a time of great change, so it makes sense that you might want to hold onto this moment by getting new ink. The risk of infection from a tattoo is surprisingly small, largely due to the rigorous attention to hygiene paid by professional tattoo artists. But, while your risk of infection or other complications from getting a tattoo while pregnant is slight, it does exist. The best way to minimize even this tiny risk is to know what to look for when you choose your tattoo parlor.

Choose a Tattoo Parlor

Some states require tattoo artists and their studios to be licensed or registered. Your local health department will be able to tell you if this is the case where you live. The department of health should also have a list of any tattoo parlors or artists who have had complaints filed against them. Recommendations from trusted friends are helpful, but do your own research to be sure.

Visit Before You Commit

You can tell a lot about a tattoo parlor just by visiting. It should be spotless. Tell the artist that you're pregnant, and ask about their safety procedures. Some tattoo parlors won't ink pregnant women, so it's best to get that out of the way immediately. If they're willing to accept you as a client, look for these things: single-use needles, single-use ink cartridges, unopened sterile dressings and gloves on all artists which are changed between clients and an autoclave, which is a machine that sterilizes instruments with heat. If the artist gives you attitude or is missing even one of these things, this is not the place for you.

Think it Through

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes, both inside and out. Your skin pigment changes, the shape of your body changes and certainly your interior landscape is ever-changing. What seems like a brilliant and cosmically-inspired idea in your sixth month might not feel or look that way in your ninth, or after the baby is born. Also, consider that some hospitals will not do an epidural on a woman who has a fresh tattoo on her lower back, because of fears that they'll drive the ink farther into her body. If you do receive an epidural into a tattoo, it could leave a scar that will deface your design.

Consult Your Doctor

If you're committed to a new tattoo, discuss the idea with your birth professional. If you got a new tattoo before you knew you were pregnant, you should also mention this because, while the chances of receiving an infection from an artist's needle or a possible reaction to the ink itself are very rare, it does happen. The more informed your doctor is, the better equipped she is to make sure that your pregnancy proceeds safely and comfortably.