So, you try to do right by your health as a new mom, you really do. You know that that's what you're supposed to do. Put on your own oxygen mask before putting one on your child, take care of yourself first, blah blah blah. You know that when you're breastfeeding, you need to be particularly particular about your health: eat healthy, stay well, not drink two bottles of wine in one sitting, that kind of thing. But what if you want to cut loose once in a while? Do something that was really no big deal when you didn't have a baby strapped to your boob, but now is maybe, you know, not so recommended? The kind of thing that raises eyebrows?
No, I don't mean nursing your baby while dining out at Denny's (although, for the record, the fact that nursing in public is still seen, in some quarters, as risque behavior remains, in my opinion, one of the single most important public health issues in both Canada and the US.) I mean, have an extra drink one evening. Or, you know, get a tattoo.
You heard me right. I want to get a tattoo. So does this blogger. And we've been making plans to do exactly that. But when we started tweeting our idea - get tattoos in Houston! before the Mom 2.0 Summit! - we got some worried and worrisome responses. (For example, from wamarineangel:"@herbadmother just a note on that... most reputable tattoo artists will make sure that you're done breastfeeding before they tattoo.")
So we did some research.
Turns out, one is supposed to exercise some caution when considering getting a tattoo while breastfeeding. According to La Leche League: "Most tattooists will not knowingly tattoo a pregnant or breastfeeding mother. It is suggested that mothers wait at least until the child's first birthday to give their bodies a chance to recover completely from childbirth before getting a tattoo."
However, LLL also says that tattoo ink molecules are too large to pass into breastmilk. The risk isn't with the ink - it's with the possibility of infections ("the most prevalent risks of tattooing".)So LLL - apart from insisting that it's maybe best to wait until a year has passed - recommends following the usual precautions - making sure that the tattoo artist follows proper health and safety procedures, etc.
Dr. Sears says this: "the needles used for the tattoo will pose a very small risk of transmitting hepatitis C. Recent research shows that a larger, multi-colored tattoo poses a higher risk than small black tattoos. Another study showed that the risk of contracting hepatitis is actually higher during a dentist visit than while getting a tattoo, so this subject remains controversial." He adds, unnecessarily, "before you permanently alter your body, imagine what this tattoo would look like on your Grandmother… because some day that is how you will look!"
And according to InkedBlog:
The possibility of the ink migrating into the mother’s blood plasma and then into the milk-making cells of the breast is a myth, according to Frank Nice, RPh. It is possible however, to have allergic reactions to the tattoo ink.
According to a survey of tattooed or pierced mothers by Mary Jozwiak, IBCLC, a moderator at HipMama magazine, the risk for blood-borne illnesses is not increased for mothers who
were tattooed by a professional who followed the aftercare instructions.
So, we're going to do it. If Dr. Sears and InkedBlog can agree on its relative safety, then we figure we're pretty good. We will, after all, take all the necessary precautions and be attentive to aftercare and what-not. We are, after all, good mothers.
How about you? Would you do it - get a tatt while nursing?
Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother, where she's wondering how and why it is that having children - like, say, entering The Amazing Race - puts pressure on even the best relationships.
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