Can I get a tattoo while pregnant?

Q: Is it safe to get a tattoo while I'm pregnant?

A: Getting inked has some serious risks that you're better off avoiding while pregnant. Dirty facilities and needles can spread infections like Hepatitis B and HIV. There have also been no studies done on the effects that tattoo ink may have on your baby's health and development. But if you're determined to get a tattoo while you're pregnant, do follow these tips to be as safe as possible:

- Tell the tattoo artist that you're pregnant, so he can take extra precautions, like being certain that the tools are clean. - Wait until the second trimester when your baby's major organs, bones, nerves, and muscles have already developed. - Make sure the tattoo artist is licensed. - Check to see that the tattoo parlor uses sterilized equipment. It should have a machine called an autoclave that cleans tattoo instruments using heat and steam. - The tattoo artist should use new, unopened gloves, bandages, dyes, and needles for each client.

It's also a good idea to remember that shifting hormones can cause your complexion to change a lot during pregnancy, so the tattoo you get in your sixth month could look very different after you deliver. If you're planning to have an epidural during labor, avoid getting a tattoo on your lower back too close to your due date. There's no evidence that back tattoos interfere with epidurals, but some hospitals will not give them to women whose tattoos are new or not totally healed.

Copyright 2009

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