Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding? A Comprehensive Guide for New Mothers

Can You Get a Tattoo While Breastfeeding? A Comprehensive Guide for New Mothers


Deciding to get a new tattoo is an exciting moment, but it comes with a host of considerations, especially for new mothers. If you're breastfeeding and wondering whether you can get a tattoo during this period, you're not alone. Embarking on the journey through motherhood often brings forth questions about how personal choices impact your baby's health and wellbeing. Understanding the nuances of tattoos while breastfeeding is crucial, not only for your health but also for the safety and comfort of your child.

This comprehensive guide will explore whether you can get a tattoo while breastfeeding, addressing common concerns and offering insights into the safety of tattoos during this unique period in your life. From selecting the right tattoo artist and studio that adheres to the highest standards of cleanliness to considering the placement of tattoos and understanding their impact on breastfeeding, this article will provide you with the necessary information to make an informed decision. Additionally, we will delve into the healing process of a tattoo after pregnancy and its implications for both mother and child, ensuring you are well-prepared for this commitment.

Can Tattoos Harm Your Breastfed Baby?

Scientific Studies and Findings

While the act of tattooing itself is generally safe, the long-term effects of ink particles in the body raise concerns, especially during breastfeeding. It is commonly believed that tattoo ink molecules are too large to pass into breastmilk. However, as the ink breaks down over time, it's uncertain whether these smaller particles could transfer into breastmilk. No definitive studies have directly linked tattoo ink to adverse effects in breastfed babies, but the absence of evidence has left many experts cautious [1].

Expert Opinions

Medical professionals and tattoo artists often advise against getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. The primary concern revolves around the risk of infections, which could be transmitted to the nursing baby. Infections could stem from unsterilised equipment or improper aftercare, leading to serious health issues such as hepatitis or MRSA. Experts recommend waiting until the breastfeeding period is over to mitigate these risks, as the body's ability to heal from a tattoo is compromised during this time [1].

Risks and Precautions

When considering a tattoo during breastfeeding, it's crucial to understand the potential risks involved:

  1. Infection Risks: Both local and systemic infections can occur if the tattooing process is not performed under strict hygienic conditions. This includes using sterilised needles and equipment, and following proper aftercare procedures to prevent complications.
  2. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the ink used, particularly red inks, which are known to be more problematic. Such reactions can occur even if you have had previous tattoos without issues.
  3. Impact of Tattoo Removal: If you later decide to remove the tattoo, the laser removal process can also introduce risks. The breakdown of ink particles during removal has not been studied in the context of breastfeeding, and it is unknown if these particles can affect breastmilk [1].

Given these considerations, it's advisable to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Consulting with healthcare providers and selecting a reputable tattoo artist who adheres to the highest standards of safety can help minimise risks.

Tattoo Artist and Studio Selection

When selecting a tattoo artist and studio while breastfeeding, it's crucial to ensure that both adhere to the highest standards of health and safety. Here are the key considerations you should keep in mind:

Health and Safety Standards

Any reputable tattoo shop and artist will follow a strict set of guidelines to minimise cross-contamination and infection risks. It's essential to verify that the studio uses an autoclave for sterilising equipment, and that all inks, ink cups, gloves, and needles are single-use. Additionally, ensure that the artist practices thorough hand washing with disinfectant soap before handling any equipment or tattooing.

Checking Licenses and Certifications

Before you commit to a tattoo studio, check that the artist and the studio are licensed. This certification ensures that they meet local health department standards and regulations. A professional tattooist will also be knowledgeable about the specific considerations for tattooing breastfeeding individuals and should provide a waiver that includes questions about pregnancy and breastfeeding [2].

Importance of Aftercare

Proper aftercare is vital to prevent infections and ensure optimal healing of your tattoo, especially when breastfeeding. Follow the artist's aftercare instructions meticulously. This includes cleaning the tattoo with mild soap and water, avoiding picking at scabs, and keeping the tattoo away from direct sunlight. Fiona, an experienced tattoo artist, emphasises the importance of aftercare, noting that while her tattoos typically take longer to heal when she was breastfeeding, the exact experience can vary from person to person [3].

When discussing your plans to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, it's advisable to have a detailed conversation with the tattoo artist about any potential issues. Ensure they are comfortable proceeding, and that you fully understand the risks involved. This proactive approach helps ensure that both you and the artist are prepared for the tattoo process and aftercare.

Healing Time and Impact on Breastfeeding

Pain Management

When you're breastfeeding and decide to get a tattoo, managing pain becomes a crucial aspect of the healing process. It's generally safe to use paracetamol for pain relief, as it is considered compatible with breastfeeding [4]. This can help alleviate discomfort without compromising your ability to nurse your baby effectively.

Healing Guidelines

The healing time for a tattoo while breastfeeding may extend longer than usual. Your body is already undergoing significant recovery postpartum, and adding a tattoo into the mix can strain your natural healing capabilities. It's vital to follow the tattoo artist's aftercare instructions meticulously. This includes washing the tattooed area with mild soap and water, avoiding exposure to direct sunlight, and refraining from picking at scabs to prevent infections and ensure optimal healing.

Dealing with Complications

Infections are a primary concern when getting a tattoo during the breastfeeding period. Local infections can occur if aftercare guidelines are not properly followed, while systemic infections might arise from the use of non-sterilized equipment. Signs of infection include irritation, redness, or pus near the tattoo site, which require immediate medical attention to prevent any risk to both mother and baby. Additionally, be vigilant about potential allergic reactions to the ink, especially with red inks, which are known to cause more complications.

By understanding these aspects and taking the necessary precautions, you can better manage the healing process of a tattoo while ensuring the safety and health of both you and your baby.

Considering the Placement of Tattoos

When contemplating getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, the placement of the tattoo is a crucial factor to consider. This is not only due to the physical proximity to your baby but also due to the changes your body undergoes during and after pregnancy.

How Placement Affects Breastfeeding

The placement of your tattoo can significantly impact your comfort and ability to breastfeed effectively. For instance, if you choose to get a tattoo on your arm, consider whether this will affect your ability to carry or wash your baby [3]. Additionally, tattoos on the breasts do not pose increased risks during breastfeeding as the ink is sealed under the first layer of skin, preventing any contact with breast milk [4].

Practical Considerations

It's essential to think about your baby's developmental stage. Babies are likely to scratch, rub, or hit the tattooed area, which could affect the healing process. Consider how you hold your baby during breastfeeding sessions; a new tattoo might get rubbed or pressed, which can be painful and may affect the tattoo's healing. If you're considering tattooing over areas with stretch marks, be aware that your skin's condition may alter the tattoo's appearance, and such areas might be more sensitive [3].

Long-term Impact

Over time, your body continues to change post-pregnancy, and areas like the breasts may swell during breastfeeding due to engorgement. This swelling could temporarily distort a tattoo located on the breast. It's also worth considering the long-term aspect of tattoo removal, which involves multiple sessions and potential risks similar to those of tattooing, including infections and allergic reactions to the ink used.


Throughout this guide, we've navigated the intricate considerations and safety measures for getting a tattoo while breastfeeding, highlighting the importance of choosing a reputable tattoo artist, understanding potential risks, and adhering to thorough aftercare. These deliberations underscore how personal decisions during breastfeeding require a balance between maternal desires and the paramount importance of infant health. By focusing on informed choices and meticulous preparations, breastfeeding mothers can reduce potential risks and make decisions that align with the well-being of both mother and child.

Emphasising the significance of expert guidance and supportive care, our journey through the considerations of tattooing while breastfeeding reiterates the need for open discussions with healthcare providers and tattoo professionals. For more insights and guidance on navigating life's milestones with confidence and care, check out our other blogs. By staying informed and prioritising safety, mothers can continue to cherish the breastfeeding journey while also embracing personal expressions of art and identity.


When is it advisable to get a tattoo after having a baby?

The timing for getting a tattoo after giving birth depends on whether you are breastfeeding and your own personal health. If you are breastfeeding, it is recommended to wait between 9 to 12 months after delivery before getting a tattoo. If you are not breastfeeding, you can get a tattoo as soon as you feel physically ready.

Is it okay to get semi-permanent tattoos while breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding, it's important to consider the risks of skin and blood infections or allergic reactions when getting any type of tattoo, including semi-permanent ones. It is advisable to wait until your child is at least one year old to give your body ample time to recover from childbirth before getting a tattoo.

Can I donate breast milk if I have recently got a tattoo?

Yes, you can donate breast milk even if you have had tattoos, piercings, or acupuncture within the last 12 months, provided that these procedures were carried out using sterile, single-use needles. Additionally, it's necessary to have any relevant laboratory tests conducted at least eight days following the procedure to ensure safety in milk donation.

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