Tattoos are my life. I think they are the most creative art form in the world.
There are many things to consider when deciding if you should get a tattoo: cost, design, location, artist, and the fact that they are pretty much permanent. There are volumes of articles out there with advice on how to choose your first, or next, tattoo, or even help you decide if you should get a tattoo at all. There is advice about all the dos and don'ts and about how to prepare for your appointment. Most of them explain that you should not get a tattoo while drunk.
Since coming across the question "Can you get tattoos while pregnant?," it occurred to me that I don't usually hear about the two other cases when you should absolutely NOT get a tattoo: when you are sick and when you are pregnant! If you all of a sudden come down with even a head cold, reschedule your appointment. If you want to commemorate your first child, wait until after they are born. Actually, wait until after you are finished breastfeeding. Why? Besides all of the considerations I mentioned above, there are serious health risks to getting a tattoo.
It Is a Matter of Health and Safety
I am not trying to scare anyone out of getting a tattoo, though this could very well happen after reading this article. I am well aware of all the risks I am about to point out. Yet I have two rather large tattoos and I intend to get more.
I am trying to wake some people up to the risks of tattoos that no one seems to talk about. Aside from perhaps a quick rundown of the fine print given to you by your tattoo artist, if he is professional and responsible, why don't we talk about these risks? I have a feeling it is because they are scary. Risking being stuck with a silly doodle on your butt is a lot easier to digest than risking your life. As long as your tattoo artist does his job properly and you do yours, it is a very small risk albeit a risk that is still very real. And very serious.
This is something my tattoo artist mentioned as his number one concern. Tattoos hurt. Pain stresses your body. And when there is a baby in the womb, that stress is passed on to them. You might be able to cope with it just fine, but do you want to put your baby under conditions that could harm their development?
Even if you have been tattooed before, this is a very real possibility. Different inks are made from different things that you may never have been exposed to before. At least not in this way. Severe allergic reactions in general are rare, but they happen. I am not a medical expert, but I have a feeling the stress put on your body from an allergic reaction, severe or not, cannot be good for a fetus. So skip the tattoo if that pregnancy test came back positive. For those of you in the clear, there is not much you can do in terms of preventing an unknown allergy. What you can do is know your body. If something doesn't seem right say something or do something. I have never known anyone that has had an allergic reaction to a tattoo, and I know quite a few people with ink, but a little caution is not a bad thing.
A good tattoo artist will have impeccable hygiene regarding themselves and their equipment. They should be wearing new gloves, using sterile materials, working in a clean shop, etc. If you have any doubts about these things, ask. If you are not happy with the answers or the appearance of the shop, don't let them touch you. Why? Would you share a glass of water with someone that has strep throat? Then why would you take a chance picking up bacteria from a dirty machine or dirty shop? Remember, these are needles breaking your skin and injecting ink. Bacteria love damaged skin. Once they get in there they can do serious, and life threatening, damage. don't believe me? Do a quick google search for MRSA. This risk will also follow you out of the door. Be sure you keep that tattoo clean! And watch it for any complications. I have recently had an experience with an infected tattoo because I slacked off on the aftercare. Aside from damaging my tattoo, it involved several doctor visits, serious antibiotics, and nearly sent me to a surgeon. So ladies. Do you still think a tattoo is a good idea while carrying your unborn child? I doubt you want to risk exposing them to infections or the medicines that go along with them. If you still aren't convinced, keep reading.
Hepatitis B. Hepatitis C. HIV. This is some serious stuff. These are things that you do not want to get. These are things you do not want your tiny innocent child to have. Thanks to medical breakthroughs, many HIV positive mothers have given birth without passing the virus to their baby. The catch is that there are steps that need to be taken. Therefore the mother must know she is HIV positive. It can take six months for HIV to be detected in a test. Do the math. If you get a tattoo at three months and you contract HIV, you might not have time to protect your baby. Hepatitis can take 12 months to be detected.
I am not saying you shouldn't get a tattoo because you could get hepatitis or HIV. I am just saying be smart about it. Think of it like you would sex. Are you going to jump in the sack and have unprotected sex with some guy off the street who's name you are only fairly sure you remember? What about drugs? Are you going to share a needle with a junkie? Or are you going to decide to be responsible and be safe? This goes back to what I said earlier. Be sure your tattoo artist is following proper hygiene and sterilization procedures. And be sure you trust them. I would trust by tattoo artist with my life. I have. Several times. Even so, I am sure to be tested for HIV and hepatitis after getting a new tattoo. I would suggest you do the same. And I would avoid tattoos altogether if you even think you might be pregnant. The risk of infection is small, but it is there. And it is serious. So much so that some states do not allow you to donate blood within 12 months of getting a tattoo or piercing due to the risk of hepatitis.
It's Your Decision
After all I have said, I hope I have not scared you away from tattoos. They really are safe when done properly. Like I said earlier, I am aware of all of these risks and I still got tattooed. I even experienced a complication and I still want more ink. I love tattoos and the tattoo experience. But will be safe. I will wait at least a year. I will get my blood tests done to be sure I am healthy and that I am not exposing my artist or his equipment to anything bad. And I will get a doctor's note as required by my artist because of my previous infection. Silly guy is always looking out for me, and himself. I am willing to take the tiny risks to myself that come with the territory. But I would never even dream of passing those risks on to my child.
I do hope I scared anyone away from getting a tattoo if there is any chance they might be pregnant. I won't judge either way. It is your life. It is your body. And it is up to you how you want to live it now and for the remainder. What I will do is hope and pray that you will be safe. Do it for yourself. And do it for the innocent life you are supposed to love and protect.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Laurinzoscott from Kanab, Utah on March 29, 2020:
Very intetesting question you brought up Dana...so good to see your writings...again
Dana Strang (author) from Ohio on October 27, 2012:
lovedoctor926 - yes. it it common sense to most of us. But then again drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. are things that I consider common sense pregnancy no no's and folks do those!... Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.
Dana Strang (author) from Ohio on October 27, 2012:
Sharkye11 - thank you for the great comment.I amlike you, even with the risks I just got my third tattoo and I am planning a fourth.... Yes. Tattoos and pregnancy don't mix. My rtist pointd out to me also that it causes fetal stress. I will be adding htat info too... Next will be a hub about why not to get tattooed drunk. Again something that should be an obvious no no, But you know folks are out there that want to do it!
lovedoctor926 on October 27, 2012:
Useful information and good advice. I think it's pretty much common sense. Women should wait till after the child is born to get a tattoo.
Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on October 27, 2012:
I have tattoos, and will definitely have more, so this didn't scare me. But it is great information for anyone considering a tattoo. Especially people who just wake up one morning deciding they want one and think it can be done by that afternoon.
Great advice here on spending time to find a good tattoo artist. Search for months if you have to, its better than the risk of infection or a scrapped up tattoo.
As for getting one in pregnancy, I honestly can't imagine it. Even if it were 100% safe, who needs more discomfort during pregnancy?
Dana Strang (author) from Ohio on April 21, 2012:
Schoolgirl - I admit. I sort of scared myself a little writing this! Honestly the risks are about the same as having sex, or less. Fine for me. Not so fine for a baby. Thanks for reading.
schoolgirlforreal on April 21, 2012:
Good info, I'm not scared but good to know! :)
Dana Strang (author) from Ohio on April 13, 2012:
Bill - I replied to your comment right after you write it and it never posted! damn cell phones. Maybe better off. It did include a bad joke about you and Bev getting matching tattoos! Thanks a million for reading this one considering you aren't exactly the target audience. Unless of yourse you might be pregnant. I bet you could find out with a quick google search :)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 01, 2012:
Okay, Dana, I'm very aware now about the risks and you can rest assured I won't be getting a tattoo....Bev would kill me if I did....actually she would be supportive but it's easier to blame her. :) Good warning for those so inclined. Have a peaceful Sunday my friend!