Many young women make the decision to get a lower back tattoo. While these tattoos can be beautiful, most do not think about how they may affect their labor. After all, what does a tattoo have to do with childbirth? Some anesthesiologists are concerned that women who have lower back tattoos should not be given epidurals. Here are some of the things that you should know about this controversial medical issue.
What are the Concerns about Back Tattoos and Epidurals?
There are a few reasons why some anesthesiologists are concerned about giving epidurals to women who have lower back tattoos. Some medical experts believe that inserting a needle in an area of skin that has been tattooed can cause the ink to enter the blood stream. It is also thought that inserting a needle in a tattooed area can cause skin cancer.
Can You Get an Epidural with a Lower Back Tattoo?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, most anesthesiologists will give women who have lower back tattoos epidurals. Only minimal research has been done on this issue. The studies which have been done do not show any serious risks. That said, each anesthesiologist and hospital has its own policies on lower back tattoos and epidurals. It’s important to find out before going into labor.
Are Epidurals and Lower Back Tattoos Always Recommended?
While epidurals are generally safe even if you have a lower back tattoo, there are certain instances in which they are not recommended. If your tattoo is still healing or has been infected, your anesthesiologist may advise you against having an epidural. The anesthesiologist will generally insert the epidural needle into an area of skin which is not tattooed. If your whole entire back is inked, there is a chance that you may be recommended not to have an epidural.
Most women who have lower back tattoos can be safely given an epidural to ease the pain of childbirth. The best thing that you can do is find your hospital and anesthesiologist’s policy on epidurals and tattoos before choosing this hospital for childbirth. If they do not permit it, you might want to consider another hospital if you are unwilling to do a natural childbirth. Also be sure to inform the hospital and/or anesthesiologist about any tattoo infections and the age of your tattoo.
American Pregnancy Association, “Tattoos and Pregnancy.”
MayoClinic.com, “Could a lower back tattoo keep me from having an epidural during labor?”