Generally speaking, there is nothing inherently dangerous about getting a tattoo. After all, people have been getting them for thousands of years. But safety is always a concern and should be taken seriously, especially if you're a new mom who is a source of nutrients for your baby. It's widely known that choosing a clean and reputable tattoo shop is always recommended, but do breastfeeding moms have another layer of safety to consider? Can breastfeeding moms get tattoos or are they putting themselves and their baby at risk.
As explained on the La Leche League International (LLLI) website general precautions concerning tattoos also applies to breastfeeding women. The professional tattoo artists should be sterilizing the tattoo machine and using single-use inks, ink cups, and needles. They should also be bagging the equipment in the most sterile way possible to avoid cross contamination and they should be washing their hands with disinfectant soap. Because, as Web MD noted, dirty tattoo tools can pass bacterial infections like staph, impetigo, hepatitis, and HIV.
Beyond the general infection risk, many are curious about whether tattoo ink can pass through to the baby during feedings. "The ink molecules are too large to pass into breast milk, so no worries- your baby won't be drinking fresh tattoo ink," Molly Breuer, a certified lactation consultant and doula tells Romper. As explained on the aforementioned LLLI post, tattoos are made by injecting ink into the dermal layer of the skin (that's the second or third layer). The needles only go a few millimeters in depth, and just as Breuer pointed out, the ink molecules are too big to pass into the breast milk.
Safety aside, Breuer thinks breastfeeding moms just might want to consider where they are getting inked on their body, "Personally speaking, I would avoid breast, rib, and abdominal tattoos while nursing only because having a baby scratch at a fresh tattoo and wiggle around on open skin is going to hurt, so pick your tattoo spot wisely." (I can attest to this — my bra rubbing up on my fresh rib tattoo was enough to send me into a pain fit — I can't imagine a baby inadvertently moving around on the newly inked spot.)
The best rule of thumb when getting a tattoo, whether you're breastfeeding or not, is to pick a clean shop and make sure you're following after care instructions. Overall, there is no reason a breastfeeding mom can't get fresh ink, just be careful like you usually would be.