Can I Get a Piercing While Pregnant?

risks of getting a piercing when pregnant

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

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Pregnancy comes with a list of do's and don’ts to keep you and your baby in optimal health. The list is long and you may find yourself constantly asking questions about what’s safe and what’s not during your pregnancy. One such concern may be whether or not it's OK to get a piercing during pregnancy.

For piercing enthusiasts, unfortunately, the answer is that it's best to refrain from getting piercings during pregnancy. In fact, according to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), it's recommended to avoid new piercings (if possible) at least three months before and after pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Piercings During Pregnancy

New piercings can have difficulty healing and even become infected, particularly when you are pregnant, warns Andrea Chisholm, MD, an OB-GYN and member of Verywell Family's Review Board. Your body is constantly changing throughout your pregnancy and your immune system is stressed. As a result, the healing process for piercings is more likely to take longer and incur complications such as infections during pregnancy.

While doctors and piercing experts agree that any new piercings should be avoided in pregnancy, nipple piercings are of particular concern.

"Although there is a lack of definitive evidence on this specific issue, it is advised against nipple piercing in pregnancy," says Dr. Chisholm. Hormonal and structural changes in your breast can increase complications and possibly result in adverse cosmetic outcomes, explains Dr. Chisholm.

Piercing parts of your body like your earlobes or nose might seem like relatively safe options, but they also pose risks of contamination, scarring, infections, and other adverse outcomes, says Jef Saunders, a spokesperson for the Association of Professional Piercers. Severe complications are rare but do occur, so it's recommended to wait until after recovery from your pregnancy to get a new piercing.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about getting a piercing while pregnant

Is It Safe for Baby?

The complications that can arise from getting a piercing during pregnancy are not safe for the baby. The potential risk to the baby from getting an infected piercing is a key reason why piercings during pregnancy are not recommended, explains Dr. Chisholm.

If a piercing gets infected, there is a small risk that the infection could be harmful to the fetus. In fact, studies show that certain maternal infections can impair fetal growth or cause preterm birth, congenital defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

According to "The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing," which Saunders co-authored, "Getting pierced during pregnancy also unnecessarily exposes your unborn child to risks, including infection (because of the expected changes to your immune system), allergic reaction, blood-borne disease, and medication used to treat complications."

Why You Should Not Get a Piercing While Pregnant

When you are pregnant, your immune system is weaker, which makes you more susceptible to infections: "So, we recommend against getting piercings," explains Saunders. Even though the risk is extraordinarily small, reputable professional piercing parlors will not pierce a pregnant person, says Saunders.

If you are still considering getting a piercing while pregnant, know that getting an infection could be risky for you and your baby’s health, says Dr. Chisholm.

Risks of Getting a Piercing While Pregnant

Getting a piercing always comes with risks but it can be riskier when you are pregnant. Some of the risks associated with getting a piercing while pregnant include the following: 

  • Abscess
  • Excess blood loss
  • Exposure to blood-borne diseases like hepatitis
  • Infection
  • Irritation
  • Prolonged healing time

Symptoms of an Infection 

Both new and old piercings run the risk of getting infected—especially piercings that never completely healed. The following signs and symptoms are early indications that your piercing might be infected:

  • A yellow pus discharge 
  • An odd smell around the pierced area
  • Sensitivity or pain in the piercing area 
  • Swelling 
  • Tenderness
  • The pierced area is warm to the touch 

If you notice any of these symptoms, don't remove the jewelry yourself. Instead, seek the advice of your doctor. If you have any severe complications (such as a fever, rash, or allergic reaction to the jewelry), seek medical help immediately.

Safety Considerations 

Sometimes, people get a piercing just before pregnancy or without knowing they're already pregnant. Other times, a person may have gotten a piercing a few months before pregnancy that is still healing. In those cases, here are some safety precautions that can help keep you and your baby safe:

  • If you are pierced, don’t change your jewelry until the piercing is completely healed.
  • If you suspect that you have an infection, don't remove the jewelry because the skin may heal and trap the infection underneath. Instead, see a medical professional right away.
  • Keep the pierced area clean and dry.
  • Use high-quality jewelry such as options made with surgical steel, titanium, or gold (white, rose, or yellow) that is at least 14 karats and free of nickel and cadmium.
  • If your piercing comes into contact with clothing, wear loose clothing to avoid unnecessary friction against the piercing.

It's also recommended to avoid piercings while trying to conceive, says Saunders. If you do get a piercing while trying to get pregnant or when you could become pregnant, it's paramount to be extra careful that everything being used from the jewelry to the piercing gun or needle is thoroughly sterilized. It's also extra important to get your piercing done by a professional piercer, explains Saunders.

Piercings that you got long before your pregnancy and have already healed properly shouldn't pose a health risk to you or your baby, says Saunders. However, as your body stretches to accommodate your growing baby, piercings in your belly button, breasts, and genitals may start to feel uncomfortable.

Piercings can be replaced with flexible plastic jewelry because they can bend with you as your body changes. However, Saunders warns that many of these jewelry options don't meet safety standards, "so, in general, removal is the better option."

Nipple Piercings and Breastfeeding

For breastfeeding people, says Dr. Chisholm, "consider removing piercing jewelry for the entire time you are nursing rather than each time—this will reduce the chances of bacterial infections." If you choose to remove your jewelry with each breastfeeding session, be sure to wash your hands and your nipples each time, and use alcohol on the piercing to keep the process as clean as possible, advises Dr. Chisholm.

The Association of Professional Piercers also recommends that breastfeeding people remove nipple piercings during breastfeeding to avoid any potential risk of a baby choking on jewelry. "It's not worth the risk," says Saunders.

A nipple piercing could also cause scarring and nerve damage to the nipple, says Dr. Chisholm. However, the potential impact on milk letdown because of the piercing hole openings in nipples "is probably the biggest risk of nipple piercing in breastfeeding," explains Dr. Chisholm. "This increase in milk letdown can be hard for baby to handle and may impact breastfeeding success," says Dr. Chisholm.

When Can I Get a Piercing After Pregnancy?

"It’s recommended you wait at least three months postpartum or three months after stopping breastfeeding before piercing your nipples," says Dr. Chisholm. For piercings elsewhere on the body, the general recommendation is also to wait until a minimum of three months after giving birth in order to let your body fully heal from the pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, waiting gives your immune system time to return to normal.

Generally, people who are breastfeeding and three months postpartum are safe to get piercings that are not on the breasts. However, consult with your doctor to determine the appropriate timing for you.

A Word From Verywell

It's best to wait to get a piercing until after pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes and even old piercings might start to give you some trouble, and in some cases, it can be better to remove old jewelry until after your baby arrives.

While major complications from getting pierced during your pregnancy are rare, you could still be putting yourself and your baby at risk for developing a serious infection. To keep you and your baby safe, it's best to wait a couple of months after your baby arrives or you stop breastfeeding before getting a new piercing.

If you have any questions or concerns about a piercing you already have or when it's safe for you to get a new one, contact your healthcare provider for their guidance.

9 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  9. The Association of Professional Piercers. Safe piercing FAQ: what is the APP position on navel piercings and pregnancy?.

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.