I have family members who have tattoos, most often times on the inside of their arms of names (not necessarily theirs), or sometimes lines that I have been told means dates of important events in the life of the carrier. It is usually inked in black or green, and for the fair complexioned ones, it is immediately noticeable.
Body art and piercings have gone beyond those times of using green ink to note down memories. Even though the reasons behind getting body tattoos and piercing have evolved, it is still very much a personal thing. Also, there are a lot more people who are considering body art, and are getting tattoos or body piercings.
And quite a number of folks getting pierced and tattooed are ladies who are wondering how and if their favourite body art will affect their pregnancy, childbirth or even if they can have a tattoo while pregnant. All of those concerns will be resolved by the end of this article.
Pregnancy may stretch, or fade your body art in different ways:
A pregnant mom had a small love shape tattooed just above her breast and it barely showed but by the time, she was 20 weeks pregnant, thanks to her burgeoning shape and wardrobe, almost every eye strayed to that ‘apple’ she had tattooed on her body.
Pregnancy stretches a body; hence, any artwork can become blurry, faded, or misshapen. Especially, those ones on the stomach, breasts, or hips, they are more prone to change since those areas expand the most.
Sometimes, after and during pregnancy, a tattoo may maintain its size and shape, but stretch marks develop within it and cause it to fade.
You may want to touch it up or remove it, it’s your call.
Body tattoos and epidural during childbirth
Some OB/GYNs and anaesthesiologists are worried about whether it’s safe to perform epidurals on women with tattoos on their backs, which is a popular tattoo spot, under the theory that the needle could push pigmented tissue into the spinal column and cause some sort of growth or infection.
There’s little medical literature on this, and as I write, there’s been no report of problems.
Still, if you have a back tattoo, or if you’re considering one, it’s something to talk over with your doctor ahead of time, so there are no surprises (other than the ones you want) in the delivery room.
However, most anaesthesiologists would seek to place the epidural in an area of skin without ink. Even when that is not possible, you don’t need to go through intense labour without even epidural, as long as your tattoo is completely healed and you’re free of redness, scabbing, and other signs of infection.
Quite a number of celebrities have nipple piercings, and they flaunt them.
In this situation, doctors say it is best to pierce do any nipple piercings 18-24 months before pregnancy, or 3 months after weaning.
Getting a piercing during pregnancy is not advisable. Doing it months before pregnancy, or after weaning, allows the piercing to fully heal before the hormonal changes of pregnancy.
It also allows for the piercing to be removed without the holes closing up, if it gets uncomfortable during pregnancy.
Also, saliva must not enter a freshly pierced nipple and jewellery must remain in place during healing, making piercing while breastfeeding impossible.
While there are a few studies on breastfeeding after nipple piercing that show possible problems, many mothers go onto breastfeed successfully with pierced nipples.
A piercing in the nipple or the areola has zero effect on your ability to produce breast milk, but a nipple ring is a potential choking hazard, so it’s best to leave it out until you’re no longer breastfeeding.
You may be surprised to find that milk is expressed from your nipple and also through the hole of the piercing!
Just keep in mind that labour is a different story. A nose or tongue ring can get in the way if you end up needing general anaesthesia, and a genital piercing increases your risk of tearing. For a C-section, even plain old earrings must be removed.
While most experts agree that the ink won’t enter bloodstream (the needle only penetrates about 1/8 of an inch into your skin), some of the little research that exists on tattoo ink (there’s not much!) suggests that some of it may be metabolized or work its way through your lymph nodes.
In rare instances, there have been cases of ink being tainted with bacteria.
Of course, there’s a risk of infection any time you get stuck with a needle – in this case, the big concern would be hepatitis or HIV from a dirty needle.
Most tattoo parlours are scrupulous about cleanliness when it comes to their tools and methods, as required by the tenets of their job but you can never be too careful.
Another possible negative effect of getting tattooed while pregnant is the risk of stress. Any stressful event, or any event that your body sees as stressful, can lead to premature labour.
While getting a tattoo isn’t necessarily one of the most stressful events that can take place while pregnant, it can certainly add to the stress that a pregnant woman is already feeling, and increase her stress to unsafe levels.
The risk of fainting is also a concern if you want to get tattooed while pregnant. It is not uncommon for people who are getting a tattoo to pass out. Certainly any experience that puts you at risk for falling, such as fainting does, should be avoided during pregnancy.
Wait until after pregnancy, even after weaning and then you can knock yourself out.
With the scanty information available in their areas, it is best to err on the part of caution and avoid getting tattoos and piercings, and if you have some already, get used to seeing them in a new light -stretched.
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here