Tattoos During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Tattoos During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know


Navigating the do's and don'ts during pregnancy sometimes leads to questions about body modifications like tattoos. It's a pertinent concern, given the myriad of advice surrounding pregnancy and the desire to ensure both your health and your baby's are well.

This blog will explore the risks associated with getting a tattoo during pregnancy, including why some may advise waiting until after your baby arrives. We'll delve into the safety precautions to consider, should you choose to proceed with getting inked. Additionally, for those who decide against getting a tattoo while expecting, we will suggest alternative options to commemorate this special time. Consulting your healthcare provider is crucial before making any decisions, and we'll outline why their guidance is an invaluable part of this process. Join us as we unpack the essentials of tattoos while pregnant, providing you with informed choices about your body and your baby's well-being.

Risks Associated with Getting a Tattoo While Pregnant

Infection is a primary concern when considering a tattoo during pregnancy. The use of contaminated or unsterile needles can lead to serious bloodborne infections such as hepatitis B, which has a 90% chance of becoming a lifelong infection in newborns if transmitted at birth [1]. Other infections like hepatitis C and HIV can also be contracted through improper tattoo practices, with significant risks of transmission to the child.

Toxic tattoo inks pose another risk. Some inks contain heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead, which are particularly hazardous during the first trimester of pregnancy when the baby's main organs are developing. Exposure to these metals can adversely affect brain development and increase the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Skin changes during pregnancy can also affect the outcome of a tattoo. As your body grows to accommodate your baby, areas where you get a tattoo may stretch, and the appearance of your tattoo could alter post-pregnancy. Increased skin sensitivity and conditions like melasma, which causes darkening of the skin, are common and can influence how your skin reacts to the tattoo ink [1].

Lastly, the ability to receive an epidural during labour might be complicated by a lower back tattoo. Although complications are rare, if the tattoo is infected, healing, or has problematic skin changes, it might pose a risk during the administration of an epidural. The anesthesiologist may need to adjust the needle placement or make small incisions to reduce risks, potentially affecting the tattoo's appearance [2].

It's crucial to weigh these risks and consult with your healthcare provider before deciding to get a tattoo during pregnancy.

Safety Precautions When Considering a Tattoo During Pregnancy

Finding a Reputable Tattoo Parlour

When you're considering getting a tattoo during pregnancy, the first step is to find a reputable tattoo parlour. It's essential to check if the artist is licensed, which you can confirm with your local or state health department [3]. Read online reviews and speak to past clients to understand their experiences and the cleanliness of the studio [1]. A clean studio and a professional attitude are fundamental to minimise any risks of infection.

Checking Ink Ingredients

Before proceeding with a tattoo, ask about the ink ingredients. Some tattoo inks may contain heavy metals and other solvents that are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [3] [4]. During pregnancy, it's advisable to avoid inks containing heavy metals as they could pose a risk to your developing baby [1].

Ensuring Sterilisation Procedures

Ensure that the tattoo parlour uses strict sterilisation procedures. The studio should have a sterilisation machine, often referred to as an autoclave, and should use it to clean equipment that is too costly to dispose of after each use [3]. Check that the needles and tubes are taken from sealed packages, and that new gloves are worn for each client to prevent cross-contamination [5].

Considering Tattoo Placement

The placement of your tattoo can significantly affect its appearance post-pregnancy due to skin stretching. It's recommended to avoid tattooing areas like the stomach or hips, which are prone to significant stretching during pregnancy [1]. This precaution helps ensure that the appearance of your tattoo remains as intended after your body undergoes post-pregnancy changes.

By following these precautions, you can better manage the risks associated with getting a tattoo while pregnant. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making a decision to ensure it's safe for you and your baby.

Alternative Options to Tattoos During Pregnancy

Celebrating your pregnancy doesn't have to include permanent body modifications. There are several safe and fun alternatives that allow you to express yourself without the risks associated with getting a tattoo while pregnant.

Henna Designs

One popular option is decorating your pregnant bump with henna. This practice has gained popularity particularly in the West, including America and the UK. Henna is made from a natural dye and is generally safe during pregnancy, making it an excellent way for you to celebrate this special time. You might consider organising a Baby Shower or a Henna Party, where this beautiful body art can be applied in unique patterns [6]. However, it's important to ensure that the henna does not contain any harmful chemicals, such as those sometimes added to enhance the colour. If you have any concerns, especially if you suffer from conditions like G6PD deficiency, consulting your doctor before proceeding is advisable [6].

Temporary Tattoos

Another fun alternative is temporary tattoos. These can be made from various materials including ink, glitter, and metallic foil, and do not involve needles or permanent changes to your body. Temporary tattoos are applied directly to the skin and can be easily removed with soap and water. They come in a wide range of designs and sizes, allowing you to experiment with different styles [7]. This option is particularly appealing as it offers the flexibility to change designs frequently, matching your mood or outfit without any long-term commitment.

Waiting Until After Pregnancy

If you're still inclined towards a permanent tattoo, consider waiting until after your pregnancy. This approach avoids any potential risks during a time when your body is going through significant changes. Post-pregnancy, your body and skin will return to a more stable state, making it safer to get inked. This waiting period also gives you more time to think about the design and placement of your tattoo, ensuring that you are completely satisfied with your decision [7].

By exploring these alternatives, you can enjoy artistic expressions and celebrate your pregnancy without compromising on safety. Always remember to discuss any plans with your healthcare provider to ensure the best outcomes for you and your baby.


Through the exploration of risks, precautions, and alternative options regarding getting a tattoo while pregnant, this blog has aimed to equip readers with comprehensive insights for making informed decisions during this sensitive period. Consulting with healthcare providers has been underscored as an essential step, ensuring any decision aligns with the best interest of both mother and baby's health. Acknowledging the risks, from infection to the effects of toxic inks, and considering the impact of skin changes, demonstrates a careful approach to body modifications during pregnancy.

While the allure of commemorating this special time with a tattoo is understandable, weighing the potential implications is crucial. For those opting to wait or seeking alternatives, options like henna designs and temporary tattoos offer a safe and reversible way to celebrate your pregnancy. We encourage readers to explore further discussions on making safe lifestyle choices during pregnancy, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of how to best care for oneself and the growing life within. For more insights and advice on similar topics, please consider reading our other articles.


What are the risks of getting a tattoo during pregnancy?
While there are no formal guidelines that explicitly advise against getting tattoos while pregnant, it is not entirely risk-free. There is a chance you could develop an infection or have an allergic reaction, both of which could be detrimental or complicate your pregnancy unnecessarily.

What should I do if I got a tattoo and later found out I was pregnant?
If you find yourself in a situation where you got a tattoo before realising you were pregnant, try not to worry excessively. According to expert advice from Barbara, the risk of infection from the tattoo is generally low. However, for peace of mind, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider. It is recommended not to get tattooed if you are aware of your pregnancy.

Can tattoo ink affect the baby during pregnancy?
There is currently no conclusive evidence to confirm whether tattoo ink particles can pass through the placental barrier, which filters substances between the parent and the baby. Due to this uncertainty, there's a potential risk that the chemicals from tattoo ink could adversely impact both the expecting parent and the baby.

Will my tattoos stretch if I get pregnant?
Yes, it is likely that tattoos located around your waist, pelvis, or mid-section will stretch if you become pregnant. As your belly expands to accommodate the growing baby, any skin in these areas—including tattooed skin—may be stretched. This stretching can lead to the formation of stretch marks if the skin lacks sufficient elasticity to cope with the changes.


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