First-time mom and so excited for the arrival of my baby in the next couple weeks! Because I have anxiety and am at higher risk for PPD/A, I’ve scheduled things postpartum to look forward to for myself (like a haircut, massage, etc.). One thing I was about to do before getting pregnant was getting a tattoo. I can’t seem to find anything conclusive about if it’s safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding. My doctor said since it’s not large, it should be fine, but curious if you’ve seen anything out there.—Expecting to Be a Pampered Mama
First of all, I really want to applaud thinking ahead in this way. Yes, it’s hard to predict what things will be like. But knowing that you’re at elevated risk and planning for how you’ll combat that — it’s smart. Let me add two more boring things to your list: make sure you are, with some regularity, revisiting a version of a depression screen (see here for more on this), and make sure you have a doctor you can call if you start to struggle.
Second, to your actual question on tattoos. This is basically unanswered by the data. Which is to say: there are no studies — randomized, not randomized, nothing — that cover this. Literally none. Which means all we have to rely on is logic. Frustrating!
From a logic standpoint, the concerns with tattoos would be twofold. First, you might be concerned that ink would get into your breast milk. Given how tattoos work in terms of where they are in the skin, this risk is thought to be fairly minimal. More concerning is the possibility of infection, which is always a risk with tattoos. This risk varies a lot with the tattoo artist; whether breastfeeding or not, you want to use an artist with a good safety record and sterile equipment.
An infection while breastfeeding isn’t necessarily dangerous for your infant (most antibiotics are not contraindicated for breastfeeding), but you probably do not want to be recovering from an infection during this early period.
There is also the matter, depending on where on your body you are going to get the tattoo, of changes in body shape. When things stretch and contract, they take the tattoo with them.
I’m with your doctor in the sense that there isn’t any strong reason to worry based on your baby. But I suspect it may not be the most relaxing way to spend your pampering time, either.