Breastfeeding Ban: Tattoo Irks Judge As He Says New Mom Can’t Breastfeed

June 19, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

A breastfeeding ban because of a tattoo? A judge in Australia has concluded that a new and healthy mother is not allowed to breastfeed her 11-month-old son because she got a tattoo. Needless to say that breastfeeding advocates are slamming the verdict.

Should a woman be banned from breastfeeding because of a tattoo? While a judge in Australia says yes, La Leche League International (LLLI), an organization that promotes breastfeeding says otherwise.

To the question, “Is it safe to get a tattoo while breastfeeding?” LLLI’s Katie Keel advises that women should make sure that the tattooist is well-qualified, but insists that the ink does not pass in the breastmilk. La Leche League International explained:

“Tattoos are created by injecting ink into the dermal (second and third) layer of the skin. Tattooists use a hand-held electric machine that is fitted with solid needles coated in the ink. The needles enter the skin hundreds of times a minute to a depth of up to a few millimeters. The ink that is used in tattoos in the United States is subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics, but none are approved for injection under the skin. However, the ink molecules are too large to pass into breastmilk.

General information about tattooing also applies to breastfeeding women. Local and systemic infections are the most prevalent risks of tattooing. Local infections can occur when the recommended aftercare regimen is not followed. Aftercare includes keeping the tattoo clean with mild soap and water, not picking at the scabs and keeping the tattoo out of the sun. Tylenol is often prescribed for the pain, if needed. Systemic infections occur when universal precautions are not followed by the tattoo artist and can include such diseases as hepatitis, tetanus and HIV.”

La Leche League International went on to add:

It is very important to screen the tattooist and the shop carefully, checking with the local health department for local laws and regulations. Professional tattooists will follow universal precautions such as sterilization of the tattoo machine using an autoclave, single-use inks, ink cups, gloves and needles, bagging of equipment to avoid cross contamination, and thorough hand washing with disinfectant soap. 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.

Earlier this week, federal judge Matthew Myers in Sydney, Australia banned a mother from breastfeeding her 11-month-old son because she got a tattoo. The mother, who got the tattoo when her baby was ten months old, was dragged to court by the father, who deemed her irresponsible.

The pair are said to be embroiled in a custody battle. Despite the mother testing negative for hepatitis and Aids/HIV, Judge Matthew Myers said, “the tattoo is still an unacceptable risk” to the baby because the tests were inconclusive.

The ban has angered breastfeeding advocates like Dr. Karleen Gribble from the University of Western Sydney. She said:

“I think if it were reasonable then we would have very, many women in Australia who would be quite horrified and perhaps child protection authorities should be taking action because many mothers who are breastfeeding get tattoos – very often of their children’s names.”

What are your thoughts on the breastfeeding ban?

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