Health risks and complications are always possible while getting tattoos or piercings. These risks are magnified when it comes to pregnant women, and even though you might think that tattoos and piercings only affect the epidermis layer of the skin, the risks of infection are higher during pregnancy and can cause long term repercussions for the health of both mother and child.
Most tattoo parlors and artists have the policy of not tattooing or piercing pregnant women.
A pregnant woman’s body is already under the stress of adapting to a growing baby inside her fetus and all the nutrition and healing is focused on the baby. Therefore getting a tattoo or puncturing the skin for a piercing causes stress and pain and the body needs to recover from it which could compromise the health of the fetus and the mother.
The best way to deal with it is to wait until the delivery of the baby so that there are no risks involved. A pregnant woman’s body is more prone to infections and diseases and could react adversely to tattoos and piercings during the months of pregnancy.
Precautions While Getting a Tattoo or Piercing
Opinions are divided and while some doctors will strictly tell you not to get inked or pierced during pregnancy, some might give you the go-ahead.
However, if you are fully bent on getting a tattoo or piercing while being pregnant, make sure that your artist strictly follows these guidelines:
- The artist should be a licensed practitioner.
- The premise of tattoo parlor is clean including all the floors and surfaces.
- Gloves are worn by the artist at all times during the procedure.
- A sterilizing unit for sterilizing equipment is present.
- Equipment used, especially needles are unused, disposable and made for single use.
- Dressings should be sterile and unused.
- Artist should be available at a short notice in case of emergency.
- Your doctor should be on-board with the process and should walk you through all the complications and risks involved.
Risk of Infection
You should be aware of the fact that even though the risk of catching an infection is little, the risk is present and you might end up getting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV because of an un-sterilized needle.
There is almost no information available about the side effects of chemicals used in inks and skin dyes during pregnancy. So it is possible that the development of baby during first 12 weeks might be affected.
Effects on the health of baby and risks are unknown, therefore waiting until the delivery is done is the best course of action.
Alternatives to Getting a Tattoo
Using Henna instead of getting permanent tattoos during pregnancy is a much better and safer alternative. It stains the skin orange, red or brown color and only lasts one to four weeks at maximum.
This practice is very common in Egypt and much of Middle East. However be sure to not use black Henna as it contains para-phenyldiamine (PPD) which is a very harmful chemical that can cause blisters and burns on the skin and reactions that are very hard to diagnose and treat.
Pre-existing Tattoos and Piercings
One of the most common concerns among pregnant women is about tattoos and body piercings that they already have.
An existing tattoo will not cause any problems during pregnancy however if it’s on your belly, the tattoo will stretch with your skin as weeks go by and might alter the appearance of your tattoo.
The risk with existing body piercings are greater as compared to tattoos. Existing piercings aren’t much of a problem for your baby’s health, however as your body undergoes changes these piercings might become uncomfortable or develop redness or an itch.
Advices are different, for different types of body piercing. Below is a list of precautions and advices that you should follow during different stages of pregnancy.
- Nipple piercings: Nipple piercings aren’t much of a problem during pregnancy, but should be removed so that the hole can fill and won’t be a bother during breast feeding stages. A nipple piercing is not only harmful for a breast feeding baby, but can also cause the milk to leak if the hole is not filled.
- Belly piercings: Belly piercings are the most important type of body piercing in terms of care to be exercised. During pregnancy, belly is the part that undergoes most radical change and as a result piercings on it become uncomfortable so it should be removed. However, if the piercing is relatively new and you do not want to undergo the process of getting it pierced again, Teflon body jewelry is your best bet as it prevents the hole from closing and stretches easily along with the skin.
- Genital piercings: Pregnancy can cause extra sensitivity which means that genital piercings might no longer be comfortable. In that case, you should remove them. However, the closer you get to your due date, the risks posed by genital piercings increase. Stretching and tugging of the skin that occurs during childbirth can lead to jewelry being torn out which may cause excessive bleeding and vaginal trauma.
- Other piercings: If you have piercing on any other part of the body such as nose, lip, ear or brows, the chances of these piercings causing discomfort are very low and in most cases don’t need to be removed but in some cases, sensitivity of the body increases during pregnancy and piercings can become uncomfortable in which case they should be removed.
If you feel any of your piercings become red or sore, talk to your doctor about it. Extra care must be exercised while cleaning the piercings and soap and warm water should be used to make sure there is no risk of infections.
Belly piercings are more prone to infections since belly buttons have the tendency to collect bacteria, therefore they should be cleaned more often than others.
Exercising care and precaution is necessary and decisions related to tattoos and body piercings during and after pregnancy should be made after discussions with your healthcare advisor and tattoo experts.