The Truth About Breastfeeding & Getting Pierced

by Cat Bowen

Like many millennials, I'm fairly tatted up and pierced. My nose is pierced, the inner shell of my ear is pierced, my tongue was pierced, both ears have four piercings, and . . . other areas are also pierced. None of them were done while I was breastfeeding my children, but can breastfeeding moms get piercings, or is this something else those who nurse have to wait on? (Like keg stands.)

I do know what it's like to want to change something big after you had a baby. For instance, I got blunt bangs soon after giving birth. I have a cowlick right in the front of my hairline — do you have any clue how bad of an idea it is to get blunt bangs with a cowlick? It's the worst hair idea I've had since I got the little Dutch boy haircut when I was 10. (I have curly hair and it was not cute. I blame my mother.)

So what are the rules regarding body modifications while you're breastfeeding? Can you get that double viper piercing you've always wanted? What about a clitoris piercing to decorate your new lady parts? Can breastfeeding moms get piercings if they're not in the nipple, or is everywhere off limits until you wean? What if I want to go full-90s alternative music girl and get my eyebrow and navel pierced to go with my Delia's wide-legged pants?

According to La Leche League, neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have an official stance on getting pierced while breastfeeding. However, that doesn't make it automatically safe. There are inherent risks with any body modification, and piercing, while fairly benign, still carries risk. The piercing could become infected, and there are small risks for exposure to viruses.

As far as nipple piercings go, Kelly Mom recommended you get them done 12 to 18 months before getting pregnant so that they have time to heal and form a channel so they can be removed to breastfeed. I had my nipples pierced at 18, and never had an issue breastfeeding. (OK, no issue caused by the piercings, that is.)

Even if that weren't the case, I talked to New York City piercer Alice Adams about the rules regarding body mods and breastfeeding women. She tells Romper, "We screen every person who walks into our shop. One of the questions on the waiver is 'Are you currently pregnant or breastfeeding?' If the answer is yes, we won't pierce or tattoo you, and no other reputable shop will either." She says that there is always a risk in any piercing or tattoo, and while it's fine to assume that risk for yourself alone, the moment you get pregnant or breastfeed, it adds another layer of risk. "Also, having been pregnant a few times myself, and having breastfed all my babies, I know that your body does really wonky stuff and never reacts how you think it will. It's best to wait to modify anything until after you're done breastfeeding, if only to achieve the optimal result."

For me, I've never considered getting pierced or tattooed while I was breastfeeding, but after? It's a free for all. You only live once, right? So save those piercing dreams for the moment your baby's weaned. Then celebrate.