You’ve been thinking about it for months—okay, years. You have a Pinterest board full of ideas. You’re following multiple artists on Instagram. And finally, it happens: You have decided on the tattoo you want. There’s only one issue: You’re pregnant. And as with almost everything during pregnancy you immediately start thinking about safety and wondering, “Can I get a tattoo while pregnant?”
Trust me when I say that I get it—I am a mom and I have a sleeve (plus a few others). When you decide to get a tattoo, it’s almost like a piece of you is suddenly missing until you have it, and waiting can feel like agony (when you know you know). So I don’t say this lightly: The truth is that when it comes to getting a tattoo during pregnancy, it’s probably better to wait, and here’s why.
If you are thinking about getting a tattoo while pregnant, there are a few concerns to be aware of involving not only safety but aesthetics. Your health care provider is the best person to talk to for specific questions and concerns, so always check in with them to get their take as well.
If you are wondering if you can get a tattoo while pregnant, here’s everything you need to know.
It may not be safe to get a tattoo while pregnant.
The biggest concern with getting a tattoo while pregnant is the risk of infection. Now, most tattoo artists are meticulous when it comes to safety and cleanliness, but not everyone is. Infections can happen even when protocols are followed.
Skin infections (often caused by a bacteria called staphylococcus) can get into the blood system and lead to systemic infections involving your entire body. There is also a risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV. The risk of infection is always there when you get a tattoo, but in pregnancy, the impact of an infection could be even more significant; it could be dangerous for the baby.
There are esthetic considerations with getting a tattoo while pregnant.
Bodies change in many (many, many) ways during pregnancy, and it’s possible that those changes could impact the way your tattoo looks in the future.
I was prepared for my belly to get bigger and stretch while I was pregnant—I was not, however, prepared for the ways my arms changed during pregnancy and shortly thereafter. As someone who has a lot of arm ink, I am personally glad I didn’t get it while pregnant, as I wonder if the result would have been what I was hoping for.
Skin changes may also change the way your tattoo looks—stretch marks can appear in odd places and some people experience skin pigmentation changes. In my professional opinion, these marks of pregnancy are beautiful: nature’s tattoos. But they may impact the way a tattoo looks. You might consider waiting to see what your skin looks like after pregnancy, and then deciding how to incorporate a tattoo.
The other piece to consider is: will becoming a mother or parent possibly change what you want to be tattooed on your body? You may find that after you meet your baby, you shift your tattoo plans a little. I have a nest with three little eggs in it on the back of my arm to represent my three kids.
Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite tattoo ideas for moms and parents!
Last but not least, getting a tattoo while pregnant might hurt more.
With 50% more blood pumping through your body and all the physical changes, you might find that your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy. This could translate into more pain while getting a tattoo.
Tattoos are a lot like babies: Before you know it, you can barely even remember what it was like before their arrival. And just like babies, they are worth the wait. Talk to your provider and then make the best plan for you. And when you do get your ink, rock it proudly. I’m so excited for you!