I Got a Tattoo While Pregnant: Should I Worry?

So, you just got a new tattoo and then found out you were pregnant when you got it. If you had known you were pregnant, you never would have gotten the tattoo, but you had no idea! Should you be concerned that your recent tattoo may cause problems with your pregnancy?

Getting a tattoo while pregnant is unlikely to negatively impact your pregnancy or your growing baby. However, your growing and changing body may cause the tattoo to stretch or distort. While the tattoo itself is relatively harmless, contracting an infection from the tattoo could cause an issue.

If you’re concerned about the impact your new tattoo may have on you, your pregnancy, or the baby growing inside you, keep reading. Hopefully, this article will set your mind at ease and give you a few signs to watch out for should a problem arise.

If You Accidentally Got Tattooed While Pregnant

So, how does one accidentally get tattooed while pregnant? 

There are a couple of ways this could happen. Some women have gotten tattoos and then found out only afterward that they were pregnant at the time. This scenario is the most common “accidental” one. 

In other cases, women may get tattoos intentionally while pregnant and then find out that doctors recommend against doing so. The tattoo may not have been accidental, but had these moms-to-be known that they shouldn’t have gotten a tattoo while pregnant, they would never have done so. 

If you fall into one of these categories and are worried about what your new tattoo could mean for your child, the first thing you need to do is relax! The chances of anything bad happening are very slim. So, take a deep breath and calm your nerves. 

Now, let’s look at the reasons why doctors recommend against getting body art while pregnant.

woman getting tattoo on her shoulder

1. Getting a Tattoo Puts You at Risk for Infection. 

Anytime you injure yourself, there’s a risk that the injury can cause an infection. 

If you cut your finger while slicing tomatoes, step on a piece of broken glass, get nipped by your new puppy, or ask someone to place a needle in your skin for a tattoo or piercing, there’s a risk that the wound can get infected.

However, if you got your tattoo from a reputable tattoo parlor where the artist uses clean tools, wears gloves while tattooing, and keeps the shop sanitized, your risk of infection is minimal. 

Additionally, after finishing your tattoo, your artist will have given you a list of aftercare instructions. 

These instructions are meant to keep your tattoo bright and beautiful, but they also protect you from dangerous issues like skin infections. Here are the most common aftercare instructions given to people with new tattoos:

  • Keep the initial bandage in place for at least two hours.
  • After two hours, remove the bandage and wash the area with soap and water.
  • Pat the tattoo area dry and apply an antibiotic ointment. The tattoo parlor may have given you a specific ointment or recommended one that you should use. Continue using the ointment every two to four hours for at least the first three days after getting the tattoo.
  • Do not re-bandage the tattoo at any point.
  • Stay out of pools, hot tubs, and direct sunlight.
  • Don’t pick at any scabs that form.
  • Keep the area clean and dry at all times.
  • Monitor the tattoo for signs of infection (Source: Grand Traverse County, Michigan Health Services). 

If you’ve been following these rules and continue to do so, you should be fine. Simply keep an eye out for signs of infection, including unusual redness, swelling, fever, or fatigue. If you notice any of those, visit your doctor immediately.

If you make it to the fourth week after getting your new tattoo with no symptoms and the ink appears to be healing normally, you should have nothing further to worry about concerning infection.

tattoo artist using tattoo machine with needle to inject ink to a woman's arm

2. Tattoo Needles Can Transmit HIV and Other Serious Diseases.

You can contract HIV and other serious diseases, such as hepatitis, from tattoo needles. However, this risk of doing so is rare as long as you received your tattoo from a reputable artist in a reputable shop (Source: The University of Texas, El Paso). 

If you’re concerned about this risk, go back to the shop and ask the artist about the practices they have in place for keeping clients safe, disinfecting, and avoiding the spread of disease.

Again, if you were tattooed in a legitimate tattoo shop, the likelihood of you contracting a disease from tattoo needles is extremely low. 

3. The Dye in the Ink Could Have Negative Consequences on Your Developing Child.

I know how scary that sentence looks but take another deep breath. Some researchers have theorized that the chemicals used in tattoo inks can negatively impact your developing fetus and breastfeeding babies. 

However, if you’ve heard this claim and are concerned, you shouldn’t worry. There is no conclusive evidence to prove this is true. Scientists have found no links between tattoo ink and birth problems. 

Furthermore, if you accidentally get a tattoo early in your pregnancy, chances are everything will be settled, and you won’t be using any antibiotics that may pass on to your baby once it starts breastfeeding (Source: Medical News Today).

4. Tattoos on the Lumbar Region Could Negatively Impact Epidural Anesthesia.

Some researchers have studied the potentially negative consequences of giving an epidural through the ink of a tattoo (Sources: Elsevier, Springer Link). 

One of these studies notes, “The risk of introducing tattoo pigments during epidural analgesia, with the potential for tumor growth, is currently under debate, although the arguments are highly speculative and without solid basis” (Source: Elsevier).

The italics are my own, and I added them to emphasize that there’s no solid science to back up these claims. Until a hypothesis is proven, that’s all it is – a hypothesis. There are no scientific facts that prove that tattoo ink reacts negatively with epidurals.

pregnant woman with tattoo on her belly

5. The Truth: Your Pregnancy Is More Likely To Do Damage to Your Tattoo Than Your Tattoo Is To Do Damage to Your Pregnancy.

The simple fact is that you really shouldn’t get a tattoo while pregnant if you want that tattoo to look good.

As you know, when you’re pregnant, your body changes and grows to accommodate your growing fetus. Your stomach and breasts get larger, your skin stretches, and other parts of your body may expand, as well.

If your new tattoo is on any of those areas, it’s going to stretch right along with your skin (Source: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). 

And after your baby is born, your body may go “back to normal” after some time. However, the tattoo will never look the same again. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this article useful. If you’ve unintentionally gotten a tattoo while pregnant, don’t worry – there’s a very low risk that you may have harmed your baby.