Happy #BumpDay! Tattoos and piercings can be forms of expression of your personality, values or interests. However, with the multiple body changes that pregnancy brings, your tattoos and piercings may also go through some changes.

Every pregnant body is unique, and so is each expecting mother’s response to body modifications. Here are some common concerns about piercings and tattoos while pregnant:

  • Stretching: Any time a person gains or loses weight, their tattoos can stretch, become blurry or fade. This is also true during pregnancy. The most likely places for tattoos to change are ones on the stomach, breasts or hips, as these areas expand the most during pregnancy.
  • Stretch marks: Many pregnant women will also experience stretch marks in all different shapes and sizes. These may also alter the color and shape of a tattoo.
  • Epidurals: Although there is little research on the danger of placing an epidural in a tattooed area, most anesthesiologists will opt to place the needle in a place on the back where there is no ink, if possible. Placing a needle through the tattoo may also leave a small scar, changing the appearance of the tattoo.
  • Poorly fitting jewelry: Some women experience sensitivity, itchiness or soreness around the pierced area during pregnancy. Leaving poorly fitting jewelry on can lead to infection, scarring or tissue death. For C-sections, all piercings must be removed.
  • Navel piercings: Pregnant women have the most complications with navel/belly button piercings. Most women experience discomfort or pain with their belly ring and end up taking it out, but another option is to buy longer rings made from more flexible material. If a piercing turns red or becomes inflamed, it’s best to remove it.
  • Breastfeeding: You will still be able to breastfeed with a nipple piercing, however the piercing may become extremely sensitive during pregnancy and after birth. A new mother should also remove jewelry before breastfeeding, as the rings can cause harm to a baby’s mouth and are a choking hazard.
  • Getting tattooed or piercings after giving birth: Expectant mothers should not get a tattoo or piercing during pregnancy, as they have a greater risk of infection. Plus, a woman’s body is more sensitive during pregnancy and children are likely to catch their hands on piercings. Most experts recommend waiting at least 18 months after giving birth to get a new tattoo or piercing, or after the baby has weaned off of breastfeeding.

It’s always important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about piercings or tattoos before giving birth.