In a nutshell
It's complicated as research is limited, but it's probably advisable to delay until after you've had your baby
The expert view
If you are thinking about getting a tattoo during pregnancy, you are probably wondering what the 'official' line is on it.
The NHS doesn’t actually provide guidelines as not enough research has been done on any safety issues around tattoos in pregnancy.
That doesn't of course mean it is safe to go ahead and book a session in the tattooist's chair as there are safety and health considerations to bear in mind.
What's more, you'll probably find that most reputable tattoo artists won’t want to ink you if they know you're pregnant. While they're used to people fainting during the process, they won't be keen on running that risk with a pregnant woman.
Karen Hogg, a tattooist of 10-years' standing and an artist at Belfast-based Zombie Bunny Ink, says that as a professional, she 'does not recommend that a pregnant or nursing person be tattooed'.
"There are certain risks involved with every tattoo that could be passed to the unborn child, and as such all reputable tattoo shops will not tattoo any person who is pregnant or still nursing," she says.
"I have refused to tattoo pregnant or nursing clients and my reasoning for this is that while I am confident in my sterilisation procedures (sterile ink, single use needles, disposable tattoo area and medical grade surface cleanser to wipe down the tattoo area after each client) there is always a health risk involved with tattooing."
The main health risks from tattooing are:
- The possibility of infection from a dirty needle
- Fainting during the tattooing process
- Tattoo ink possibly being absorbed into your body
There is always a small risk of infection with tattoos. This includes serious infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV if needles are not properly sterilised. For this reason, you may want to wait until you've finished breastfeeding, to avoid the risk of your baby being infected.
More like this
During pregnancy, your skin can be more sensitive, which may mean you find the needle pricks more painful. Also, if you're late into your pregnancy and find the experience a shock to the system, there may be a risk of increasing the chance of going into labour.
Finally, it's thought that tattoo ink could be absorbed into the body but, again, there is no research or clear evidence of this.
Mums on our forum say
"I had another one done when my first was 3 months old and I have known people to have them done as early as 6 weeks after birth." madsbellsngeorge
"I waited for family to be complete." maille
Magda Ibrahim is a freelance writer who has written for publications including The Times and Sunday Times, The Sun, and the London Evening Standard, as well for MadeForMums.
Six big family moments that matter – and the products that make them easier to navigate
These products from John Lewis & Partners help support the memorable moments of family life.