You may have noticed that I love ink, and I’m breastfeeding, and that might have lead you to wonder if it’s safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding.

 

Depending on where in the world you are, you might have noticed some different opinions on this topic.  When that happens, it can be hard to work out who’s right and who’s wrong.  

 

In these situations, I personally think it’s best to look at the information available, weigh up the risks and decide what’s best for myself.  Let’s go over the risks together.

 

Is it legal to get a tattoo if you are breastfeeding?

It’s important to explore the local laws regarding tattoos and breastfeeding.  Here in Australia, it’s legal for a breastfeeding mama to get a tattoo.  Australia’s peak authority on breastfeeding, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, support this law.

 

Can tattoo ink enter your breastmilk and make a baby sick?

Highly unlikely.  Tattooing involves using a needle to push ink to the second layer of skin (the dermal layer).  Our milk ducts and glandular tissue are further below the skin, and unlikely to be affected by ink at the dermal layer of skin.  I’m sure accidents can potentially happen, but this risk can be mitigated by using a reputable, experienced and licensed tattoo artist.

 

Can getting a tattoo stop your milk supply?

There is no ingredient in tattoo ink that’s likely to be absorbed into your body and stop it from being able to make breastmilk as it usually does.

 

Will getting a tattoo stop you from breastfeeding?

Depending on where you get your tattoo, it might.  When making decisions about what and where your tattoo will be, think about whether this is going to make breastfeeding hard.  Getting tattoos on your breasts, especially near your nipples, will probably make breastfeeding painful. However getting something on your ankle for example, is much less likely to make breastfeeding too painful.

 

If you’re going to be in the chair getting inked from a really long period of time because you’re having significant work done, then that’s something that needs to be considered and planned for.  (Queens who have been through my One Feed Away E-Book would know all about this, because they know how breastmilk supply works.)  If you are going to be in the chair for a really long time, talk to your artist about what’s going to be possible – scheduled breaks to breastfeed or pump?  Several smaller sessions rather than one or two huge ones?  Are they comfortable with you breastfeeding while they are tattooing?  Talk it over and work out what’s going to work best for your situation.  You can work around this.

 

So what exactly are the risks?

Everyone who gets tattoos face risks.  The main risks are:

  • Allergic reaction to the inks
  • Skin Infection
  • Blood infection (such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Tetanus or MRSA)

 

While everyone who gets a tattoo faces these same risks, for a breastfeeding mother there is a possibility that the treatment of a tattoo-related allergic reaction, skin infection or blood infection may then interfere with breastfeeding.  

 

You can minimise these risks by setting a reputable, experienced and licensed tattoo artist.  Ideally, find someone with a good reputation, clean studio and clean and sterile equipment.

 

Eg, if you have a dodgy mate who bought his own gun from eBay, rinses needles under a tap before reusing them, and works while high on crack in the back shed, probably don’t go see him.

 

So is it safe or not?

I have weighed up the risks, and I decided I was comfortable with getting tattoos while breastfeeding.  Your decision is up to you.