What You Should Know Before Getting A Tattoo While Pregnant

Pregnancy, as sentimentalists envision it, is a magical, wonderful time when women simply glow... but what do they know? That's not glow, it's sweat, and there's nothing enchanting about swelling up to the size of a baby Beluga and having crazy hormone-induced mood swings. Oh, and the puking, yeah, that's also super-special. Not. 

Perhaps the biggest difficulty with pregnancy, though, is all the "don'ts." Everyone knows not to drink, or smoke, or do certain other substances that they maybe shouldn't be doing anyway. But it's all those other pregnancy prohibitions that well-meaning advice-givers seemingly make up on the spot that get tiresome — should you really be riding the bus, dear? Shouldn't you get rid of that pet iguana? Wouldn't you like to encase yourself in a nice plastic bubble? Of course every pregnant woman wants to make sure she gives birth to a healthy baby, but it's not good for mom or baby-to-be for her to spend the entire nine months under lockdown or stress about every little thing.

If you're pregnant and one of the things you'd like to do before baby is born is to get a tattoo – well, it's not a zero-risk proposition. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that you put it off until after baby is born and you're done breastfeeding. If getting inked is something you really want to do, though, there are certain precautions you can take to minimize any harm to you and your little bumpkin.

A tattoo might put you at risk of infection

The main risk you might run if you get a tattoo according to the American Pregnancy Association, whether you are pregnant or not, is of contracting a blood-borne infection like HIV or Hepatitis B. The best way to avoid such problems is to make sure you get a tattoo from a reputable, highly recommended practitioner who's got all of the necessary licensure or certification your state may require. You should also ask if you can observe a tattoo procedure ahead of time, or at least ask sufficient questions to ensure that make sure that the tattoo artist stays gloved throughout the procedure, as well as only uses single-use needles and unopened sterile inks and dressings.

You'll also want to take a good look around the shop — the floor, as well as all of the furnishings and equipment, should be sparkling clean. Does the tattoo parlor look like a place you'd be comfortable having open-heart surgery? If so, you're in the right place. (Particularly if you're 9.5 months pregnant and there's a chance you'll give birth mid-tattoo.)

The ink can also pose a danger

There's also some slight risk from the skin dyes used in tattooing. As Holly Cummings, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Penn Medicine, told Women's Health, "Some tattoo inks contain heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. The biggest potential risk would be during the first trimester, when the fetus is developing most rapidly and forming its organs." She therefore recommends tattoos be put off until the second trimester, if not longer.

If you do decide to skip the tattoo until after baby arrives, don't worry if it takes a lot longer than you'd hoped for you to find a spare moment to visit the tattoo parlor. Just think of what an embarrassment it will be to your future teens if you're the one who comes home with fresh ink! After all, getting tatted up when you're young and rebellious is kind of a cliché, but getting one (or many!) when you're a middle-aged mom is totally badass.