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Are Tattoos Safe For Pregnant Women?

Updated on May 2, 2011

Are Tattoos Safe For Pregnant Women?

Are Tattoos Safe For Pregnant Women? Tattoos as body art is used for various purposes and has been around for thousand years. As a student of culture and one who studied culture extensively, I know that culture is a part of identity and sense of belongingness of some people in a group. It is a reviving culture and is used for aesthetic purposes. In the recent past, there is a resurgence of people who are into tattoos and body piercing. The popularity of tattoos specially to the young or young at heart is increasing and spreading even to the older generations. Some pregnant women also like to get tattoos. This hub is a part of the pregnancy series I am currently writing and in this particular hub I will look whether tattoos are safe for pregnant women.

Are Tattoos Safe for Pregnant Women?

picture is courtesy of wikipedia commons
picture is courtesy of wikipedia commons

What is Tattoo?

What is a tattoo?

  • A tattoo is a marking made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment for decorative or other reasons. Tattoos on humans are a type of decorative body modifications. A tattoo is made by taking a needle and injecting ink into the deeper layer of skin
    (the dermis).
  • Tattoos are a form of body art and has been here and used by people all over the world for centuries.According to wikipedia "tattoo enthusiasts may refer to tattoos as "Ink", "Tats", "Art", "Pieces", or "Work"; and to the tattooists" as as "Artists"

Purposes of Tattoo :

  • spiritual belongingness or devotions
  • amulets or some magical powers
  • protection
  • pledges of love and promise
  • identity purposes, members of gangs or groups
  • aesthetic purposes or for cosmetic purposes
  • signs of fertility
  • status symbols


Are Tattoos Safe For Pregnant Women?

According to the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG
: tattoos are safe as long as it adheres to the following guidelines : (this is part of the tool kit for adolescents)

  • Check if you have keloids, then you must think if you are still going to have it
  • Check that the needles are clean and sterilized
  • The tattoo artist should be licensed
  • You must answer yes to the questions : Are you emotionally ready to have permanent tattoos? Do you still like it after five or ten years?

Take note :

  • According to the organization : "Although there have been no actual cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (a virus that can spread through contact with bodily fluids such as blood and causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome [AIDS]) transmitted from tattoo-ing in the United States, a scratch with an infected needle can transmit HIV. It can definitely transmit hepatitis (a virus that can damage the liver)".

it is interesting to note that Baby Center, a top site for health about mother and children has this to say :

  • As to the safeness of tattooing for pregnant women they stated that : "Tattoos are not recommended during pregnancy. First of all, if the equipment isn't properly sterilized, there's a risk of transmitting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. In addition, your skin changes during pregnancy, and that may change the way the tattoo looks after you deliver the baby". (Deborah Ehrenthal as quoted in the site, She is an ob-gyn).

Mayo stated that for those who are pregnant women and planning to have epidural anesthesia, a back lower tattoo is safe if it is already there, but actually the site didn't specifically stated that tattoing is bad or good when you are pregnant, or whether tattoing is not recommended in general.

In the site it said : "Most anesthesiologists will give an epidural block to a pregnant woman with a lower back tattoo. However, they may try to avoid placing the needle through the tattoo to avoid a small scar that may disfigure the tattoo. If possible, the anesthesiologist will insert the needle through skin that isn't tattooed".  

According to American Pregnancy Association these are the safety precautions when thinking of getting tattoos :

  • Tattoo practitioner should be licensed (same as guidelines of ACOG above)
  • Wear gloves during the procedure
  • The artist is available the first 24 hours if you have any problems
  • Find out the availability of the artist if you have any problems in the days and months ahead
  • The needles used are new, disposable and made for single use only
  • The dressings are sterile packed and unopened
  • They have an sterilizing unit to sterilize equipment
  • The floors and surfaces are all clean
  • The dyes or ink used for the tattoo are also sterile packed and unopened


  • There you go, you read about the two opposing views by the Baby Center site and the American Pregnancy Association with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). I think that when it comes to tattooing and like my other hubs about peel chemicals and hair treatment for pregnant women it is important to just wait after you give birth if you want to have these treatments. Since studies are not conclusive and not that much about the effect of tattoos, and other treatment for pregnant women, it is best to be safe.
  • Another point to consider is that in some Asian countries pregnant women use tattoo arts to decorate their bellies but of course this hasn't been studied scientifically for adverse effects.
  • I would also like to point out that the FDA or pertinent government agency should look deeper into this oen and come up with a more decision to enlighten the public about the safeness of tattooing
  • Please consider the long term effect of tattoos for those of you pregnant or not pregnant who like to have tattoos.


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    • profile image

      TwinN 7 years ago

      I know this is a few months old but I just came across it and thought I'd add although that although ACOG and baby center have opposing views, ACOG is run by actual OB/gyns and actually set standards and protocols for prenatal care. I couldn't really figure out who actually runs the baby center site besides "experts". Consider the credibility. And though of course it is best to err on the Side of caution, pregnant or not, you should always take precaution and safety when getting tattooed for cleanliness before and after. The placenta in pregnancy acts as a barrier for the immune system of the fetus and mom therefore if the mother's may be weaker, the fetus is still protected. Also, although some ink colors contain heavy metals ( such as mercury in reds) others like black and purple do not and are considered safe. I am a tattooed, pregnant RN and say go for it if you're ready for a tattoo and cannot wait!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      thanks ladylux, I appreciate your comments, Maita

    • ladylux profile image

      ladylux 7 years ago

      Nice to hear someone who has this stance. My issue is that many of the heavy metals in tattoo ink are associated with autism and related disorders. I see this and many other parallels to autism that many prefer not to notice. Thanks for the hub!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Gh, it is always nice to see you my kababayan, Thanks, capsules are crazy hehe, Maita

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 7 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Wow Maita you are playing with your capsules eh, hmmm and your Author score is nearing the status of being a featured Hubber... Congrats and keep on working hard!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Thank you prasetio, you learn about things evereyday, Thank you, maita

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I never know about this before. I can't imagine when someone pregnant get tattoos in their body. This is very rare case for me. But I don't really knew in America. Good information. I hope I can learn something from this hub.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Thank you Carolyn, I agree with you, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      entertianment, thank you, my response to you is same as Kuya Dave, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Kuya Dave, as I have said, people in the Philippines and some parts of the world use tattoos as a sign of belongingness and it is part of their culture thousand years of culture, it is also their form of epxression, maita

      Thank you, maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      herbivore, in the Philippines, women use tattoos for art and they have been using this since time immemorial, but for preggers, they should really wait, I like people with tattoos and it amazes me how some women even tattoo their belly when they are pregnant, Maita

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great hub. The main reason I don't think I would recommend ink for a pregnant woman is because of all of the hormones. Something that a woman could totally think they want on their body may not be so loved when they don't have so many hormones running through their system. I would wait until after the baby and if she still wants to get it then super. :) Clearly I disagree with the comment two up from me since I have a collection of tattoos, a few piercings and have had cosmetic surgery. God didn't intend for us to wear clothing either yet we do...... perhaps the world should be walking around still naked? Practice what you preach buddy....God didn't invent scissors for that hair cut you're sporting either. Altering your body for art or representation has nothing to do with God. Many religions commit to very symbolic tattoos as a sign of appreciation, worship and respect. Think before you speak....who are you to judge? I do believe that is a sin....go ahead and cast the first stone Mr. Dave Matthews.

      Well written hub and rated up :) Sorry about my rambling. lol

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 7 years ago from United States

      Informative hub. I agree with Dave for the most part.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Ate' Maita sweetie, as far as I'm concerned, a tattoo on a man or a woman is the injecting of inks into the flesh, which could become a harmful thing. If God had wanted a man or a woman to be covered with ink, thus hiding their Godly natural beauty, He would have done it. Personally I believe that one can not improve on the gifts of beauty given by God, not with tats, or piercings, or hair colourings or any other cosmetic operations or applications that people are doing today. God still will see only the spirit of the person, not the fleshly appearance.

      KUYA Dave.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      cool, your comments are always appreciated, Thank you for your congratulatory note, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Thank you RM for your valid points and concern for natural health. I can see your point about the long term effect of tattoos and needle. I would like to say that I feel there is lack of concern?? among government entities about the safety and research conducted about tattoos, they should take a firm stand about it instead of dilly dallying. The government is adamant on taking a stand.

      I agree with you on the long term effct of tatoos!

      I will visit your hubs about tattoo as well, Maita

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you for a well written article, and congratulations on your 200th hub :)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Ms Nellieanna, you're most definitely correct, I like all your views about breastfeeding, living naturally and of course being a model and readying yourself for your baby is the best. I agree with you tht what you do to yuor body will have effect later on, as you said you remain healthy breast wise etc. I too breastfed and I think theres nothign to eb ashamed of it.

      The youth of today are more into risky behavior be it sexual, or non sexual, smokingm drinking and trying new things.

      Majority of those who are into tattoos are the youth and of course there are also some who feel that it is an art. For the most part in Asia it is considered art.

      Thank for your valuable comments Mam Nellie, Take care, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Mike, I can understand you but the youth of today are into it because of belongingness issue, a proper guidance from their parent should be in placed. For pregnant women, they should wait for the baby to come and then decide later on, who knows when they have a baby they might feel like a model to their children. Thanks Mike, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi RevLady, thank you Mam, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Thank you hello for dropping by, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Mr Nice, I used to put a tattoo, not permanent at my back like the one at the image here, although it is a rose and one at my shoulder top but I stopped doing it.

      hehe, somewhere along the road is noo good hehehehe.

      Seriously like Ms Rosemary commented above RM, it is a note to consider -- the effect on the long run

      Of course you have friends with benefits form Bangkok , hehe, body piercing ouch,

      BTW, who sent you what and who? LOL,, just kidding

      About the challenge, well, I have 16 hubs more to go, i can do it, I will make three today hehe,

      Thank you for the encouragement and the beautiful note form Churchill, Salamat, thank you, Maita

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 7 years ago from North America

      Hi young lady,

      How many more hubs to go? Interesting hub, I don't have a Tat do you got one some where......

      If a pregnant woman wants a tat she can get a temporary if there is a concern about a permanent Tat.

      A friend from Bangkok sent me an email with body piercing images......after looking at few I was not able see the rest because they were so bad that I can't explain....I don't think you have seen those or I am just thinking that way.

      So far so good but I guess you have long way to go, don't worry try your best.

      "Never give up, never, never give up." - Winston Churchill


    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a well worked through hub. Very infornative.

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      Actually, Mike Lickteig comments echos mine. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

      Forever His,

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 7 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      I have become more accepting of tattoos as I get older, but I still cringe at the idea of using a needle on my skin to create art. As I said, I am more comfortable with the idea than I used to be, but I still believe there is no reason not to wait until after a baby is born to get a tattoo if a woman wants one. In the larger scheme of things, waiting a few more months shouldn't be that difficult.

      Well, Maita, it makes my skin hurt to think about it all, but thanks for another informative hub!


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Once more, you've presented the facts about known after-effects of this treatment with objectivity and clarity in a scientific manner for consideration, before offering your personal opinion - which I, for one, agree with wholeheartedly, along with rmcrayne's.

      In addition to exposure to likely toxic chemicals, mutilating one's body unnecessarily seems the height of folly, with nothing to gain but whatever satisfaction it may bring for as long as it lasts.

      My personal feeling is that during pregnancy, a woman's primary concern needs to be about the health and welfare of the life growing in her womb. For a mere 9 months, it's not too much sacrifice to delay ANY and ALL practices with any possible harmful effects to either her unborn baby or her own welfare, since she will be a caregiver of a helpless human being for some time after giving it birth! In fact, I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I was taught as a blossoming teenager to begin to build my health and choose my habits carefully with an eye to someday becoming a mom and giving my offspring the best 'me' I could possibly do. It made it a simple matter to avoid dangerous habits like smoking and drinking which many of my peers started doing early.

      When it came time for me to have my babies, it was not fashionable to breast-feed. In fact, people looked down on it as being 'animalistic' - imagine! But somehow instilled in me was a determination to do just that - which I did, in spite of discouragement even by the doctors and nurses. They'd been all ready with the usual procedures of drying up the milk-producing bodily function of a new mother but I refused to let them.

      Well I'm certain that it benefitted both my babies and me in untold far-reaching ways. Now, at a quite ripe age,I've never had problems with the good health of my breasts.

      With all my heart I believe that permitting the body's natural functions to function naturally is the healthiest possible choice whenever possible, which will be if one has followed a sensible healthy lifestyle all along. Particularly during pregnancy - the last thing that helps is introducing questionable substances or procedures into the situation.

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      I'm glad you wrote about this, and I agree, best to wait until after the baby. Of course, if you've read my previous HubMob tattoo hub, you'll know I'm against tattooing in general due to mounting evidence on toxic effects of tattoo INKS. They fall under the authority of the FDA, who has not intervened, and who has basically stated they are too busy with other things. Interestingly, some components of tattoo inks are banned by the FDA for topical use in cosmetics. Common sense would say they would be potentially more dangerous when injected into the skin, not merely rubbed on the surface.

      BTW pdh, check your wording on the Mayo recommendations on low back tattoos. I think I know the article you refer to. It is by the anesthesia professionals, who prefer NOT to place a needle through skin with a tattoo for epidural. They are concerned of transporting inks to deeper tissues, where they may trigger health hazards.

      So the "punch line" on tattoos is hazards of the inks for long term latent effect like auto-immune disorders. Using a reputable artist with sterile needles, minimizes your risk of infection, but does not make it safe to have a tattoo.


    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know Maita - this is certainly something to think about. Maybe 100s of years ago - we didn't have all this extra things to consider but now we do.

      And lately I've been wanting a tat (I think is what the hip young crowd calls it - a tat).

      Thanks for some food for thought!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      But other hubs are just unfinished yet, not 200 yet hehe, Thank you Amber, Maita

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 7 years ago

      200 hubs - Way to go Maita!