Pregnancy is such a special, magical time for many women—and it’s also a time when lots of really fun things are out of the question (buh-bye sushi, alcohol, and all-you-can-drink coffee).
So clearly, something big like getting a tattoo during pregnancy is off limits too…right? Turns out, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
So what’s the deal—can you get a tattoo while you’re pregnant?
Overall, there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules set in place to say that tattoos during pregnancy are 100 percent off-limits. That said, “the safest thing would to be to wait until after pregnancy to get a tattoo,” says Holly Cummings, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Penn Medicine.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, the first rule of tattoo safety is to check for cleanliness (the tattoo artist should wash their hands, put on an pair of gloves, and use disposable or sterilized equipment). Those safety precautions are put in place to help prevent the spread of hepatitis B or HIV—both of which are transferrable by needles and are dangerous for your health (whether or not you’re about to give birth), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“If someone were to contract one of these infectious diseases during pregnancy, it can increase the risks to both the patient and the unborn fetus,” says Dr. Cummings.
Another risk factor? The ink used for tattoos. “Some tattoo inks contain heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic,” she says. “The biggest potential risk would be during the first trimester, when the fetus is developing most rapidly and forming its organs.”
So it’s probably a good idea to check in with your tattoo artist before taking the dive to see if their inks contain heavy metals—if they do, it’s best to wait the nine months.
The bottom line: There’s no hard-and-fast rule about getting a tattoo during pregnancy, but experts say it’s likely best to wait the nine months and then get a tattoo if you want one.
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