Mama, are you having tattoo cravings that are stronger than that weird pickle and peanut butter one? Or maybe you finally got that tattoo appointment with your favorite artist who’s usually all booked up. Either way, you want to make sure your baby doesn’t come out with a matching tattoo to you.
Okay, that physically cannot happen, but most medical professionals, tattoo artists, and moms who have been there would recommend not getting a tattoo while pregnant.
The session is likely to be more uncomfortable than usual. Your skin could react weirdly to the ink, the healing process might be more complicated, and no one knows exactly where the body carries away excess ink to as it heals.
It’s best to hold off on that tattoo appointment until the baby is out and your body feels like your body again.
Is It Safe To Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?
For full transparency, there is not much scientific evidence. Though there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence from people who got tattooed while pregnant on accident (i.e. they didn’t know they were pregnant), as well as some stories from people who got inked knowing they were.
Most knowingly pregnant women don’t risk it. Artists are also likely going to refuse to tattoo a pregnant person.
Some people have done it without knowing they were pregnant, and both their tattoo and baby have come out fine. People have gotten a tattoo while pregnant and suffered for it – either in their healing, skin reactions, or their doctors worrying about possible infection and (rightfully) proceeding to screen them for a billion things in addition to their other millions of mommy tests.
The general consensus we’ve gathered from anecdotal evidence everywhere we could find it is – just don’t risk it.
Wait until your baby is born and your body is rebalanced and recovered. That being said, HUSH is here to give you the low-down on associated risks and things to consider if you’re going to go for it anyway. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you if something goes wrong! 😤)
What Are the Risks of Getting a Tattoo While Pregnant?
If you get tattooed while you’re pregnant you are running the regular risks associated with getting tattooed, plus whatever happens to your body when you are pregnant, and there are a lot of changes going on in there!
It Might Affect the Baby
The baby is the main concern here. Any changes, additions, subtractions, and really the entirety of PEMDAS happening to your body are affecting the baby. It’s unknown if toxic inks can flow into the baby's embryo.
You Might Have an Allergic Reaction
There’s always a risk of allergic reaction with tattoo inks. Colored inks use pigment that can cause allergic reactions in a small portion of people, especially red inks.
It’s one thing to experience discomfort from an allergic reaction when you aren’t pregnant. It’s another to experience it when you are — your body may be planning to spring random pregnancy hives on you at some point, give your skin a break.
Toxic Inks Are Still Out There
Modern-day inks have made a big effort to formulate without all the toxic ingredients people used to use in tattoo inks. Still, you should ask your artist what kind of inks they are using, look them up yourself, and come up with your own conclusions if they work for you.
Avoid shops that are cheap or seem like maybe they cut corners. If you are going to get a tattoo, pay for a good one made with the best ink on the market – pregnant or not!
Your hormones are changing because you have a human growing inside you. Your skin feels it, too.
You are literally growing a human — of course you’re going to get bigger. Your skin is stretching out over your stomach, your boobs and booty are bigger, and you probably have a bit of extra weight everywhere (and that’s okay and beautiful).
Getting a tattoo while your body is in Elastigirl mode could be an issue if your skin shrinks back down after the baby is out — read: your tattoo might warp. Stretch marks are also common, and, depending on the placement, could happen right through your tattoo.
Around 20% of women feel itchy during pregnancy. Hormones and stretching skin cause itchiness and dryness. Double that feeling when you have a healing tattoo when pregnant. We’ve also read stories of women feeling itchy on their old tattoos when they get pregnant.
Some women have stories about getting a tattoo while pregnant and their body rejecting ink that it previously accepted when they weren’t pregnant. Color is apparently absorbed differently during pregnancy? Like we said earlier, there are so many factors that can come into play here, and not a lot of evidence we can really reference to say with certainty that getting inked while preggo (or even getting tattooed while breastfeeding) is safe.
It’s possible that your skin will be more sensitive to irritation during your pregnancy. Have you gotten any wounds while you’re pregnant? How are they healing compared to how you heal when you are not pregnant? That’ll be a good reference point that is worth paying attention to.
You risk exposure to the bloodborne virus, Hepatitis B or C if your tattoo process gets contaminated with another person's blood. This only happens when someone has been dirty or messy and totally unhygienic. If you find a trusted and reputable tattoo artist – you are incredibly unlikely to get hepatitis.
If you are scheduled to head to someone’s kitchen for some ink, go Google “tattoo infections” and “tattoo fails,” and know that is your fate if you don’t find a reputable shop.
If your tattoo does get infected, you might need antibiotics. This is going to take a hit on your immune system. There are antibiotics that are proven to be safe to take during pregnancy, but if you’ve ever taken an antibiotic, you know it messes with your body while it does its bacteria-hunting. Stomach issues, yeast infection, and exhaustion are just a few common side effects that you will want to do without while pregnant.
Your baseline heart rate increases progressively throughout pregnancy. It starts increasing in the first trimester and grows to a 20% to a 25% total increase over baseline by the third trimester.
If you add getting a tattoo to that increased heart rate, you might have your heart beating out of your chest, and that can be stressful or even anxiety-inducing for you and your baby.
Your Body Is Just Already Going Through a Lot
Don’t forget that you are not just a baby-growing host. While this lil’ thang growing inside is a cause for extra care and caution, you still need to feel good for yourself. Even if it was perfectly safe for the baby for you to get a tattoo while pregnant, your body is still reacting and feeling differently. Consider yourself as well.
When Can You Get a Tattoo While Pregnant?
If you’ve weighed the risks, done your own research, talked to a doctor, and decided getting a tattoo is fine – wait until your second trimester.
Your first trimester is when your baby is bulking up big time. That baby is absorbing everything it can and it’s growing, growing, growing. The face, brain, spinal cord, heart, bone, mouth — all the good stuff. This first trimester is the most critical in terms of development.
We suggest letting you and your bun in the oven get all that sorted out before considering a tattoo.
Also worth mentioning is that after the first trimester, you start to feel more normal and less like a feeding tube — no shade to the baby! We just know that creating life takesan enormous toll on the body. Another good reason to wait until the second trimester if you’re tattoo craving hasn’t chilled out.
Final Things To Think About Before Getting Tattooed While Pregnant
If you are going to get a tattoo while pregnant, that’s on your body — your choice. We wouldn’t recommend it but we are going to recommend you take the utmost precaution if you go for it. We want you to just consider a few things before you really commit to getting a tattoo with that baby bump.
Find an artist that you trust, has amazing hygiene and equipment safety measures, and is sympathetic to your pregnancy situation. Maybe you will need certain types of ink to ensure safety. Maybe you need extra breaks during the session. Maybe you get a little morning sickness throughout the sesh.
There’s a big chance that the tattoo artist will refuse to tattoo you while pregnant. In case anything should happen, it is not worth it to the artist to have a potential lawsuit on their hands.
If this is something you encounter – respect the artist’s wishes. Come back another time! They’re trying to respect the life inside you and also their own practice. Better safe than sorry!
Where is the artist tattooing from? Does the studio look like it is cleaned regularly? Is there good airflow? A bathroom nearby? Are you going up a million steps or is there an elevator? Consider all of your regular needs plus your pregnancy needs.
The possible toxicity of the ink is what makes this whole “getting a tattoo while pregnant” thing risky. Well, the healing process, too, but the ink waaay more so. If you found an artist that’s willing and you are going for it, double down on your ink research and find the most reputable, non-toxic inks possible.
Pain tolerance is specific to every person, pregnant or not, but pregnancy is a factor that can influence how much pain you can handle. It’s not uncommon for women, especially those who have labor fear, to have a lower tolerance to pain during pregnancy.
Make your experience more comfortable with Hush’s Session package. Dilute the pain while sitting. We can’t help you with pee breaks though… that’s on being preggo.
If you get a tattoo while pregnant, you need to be absolutely immaculate with your aftercare. You don’t want any unnecessary complications with your healing process. Get detailed aftercare tips on our blog and think about getting some aftercare healing products to help the process proceed as smoothly as possible.
We don’t mean to go total Abuela mode on you throughout this article, but we don’t recommend getting a tattoo while you are pregnant.
It’s an unnecessary risk to your body and baby. Your body isn’t reacting to things as it normally does and there’s no telling what could happen. Do you really want possible tattoo complications while you’re growing a human?
That being said, if you do bypass the recommendation, be intentional and thoughtful in the choices you make on your way to getting the tattoo and how you handle the tattoo during the healing process.