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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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