Breastfeeding tattoos are getting more popular - and they can be just beautiful

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 Photo: Getty Images

Breastfeeding was never easy for Deidre.

The 33-year-old, from Victoria, struggled to breastfeed her first babies, twin boys Teddy and Sebastian.

She suffered nipple damage, which caused excruciating pain, along with recurrent bouts of mastitis.

When the boys were six weeks old, Deidre endured a particularly nasty bout of mastitis and was ready to throw in the towel. But with the support of an "amazing" lactation consultant she persevered.

At the eight-week mark, things turned a corner - and continued to improve.

"I wanted to shout from the rooftops how proud I was to have succeeded," she remembers.

But then she had similar problems with her third baby, Max. He never drained her breasts properly, leaving Deidre constantly engorged. (She pumped that excess milk and donated it to mums with low supply.)

After all the challenges of breastfeeding, Deidre wanted to "celebrate" her breastfeeding journey.

"I had provided hundreds of litres of milk for my own three children and had helped feed three others, so it was something that I felt passionate about and wanted to remember forever," she says.

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So, last year, she got a breastfeeding tattoo on her chest:

"My tattoo is a daily reminder of motherhood and my breastfeeding journey - over three and a half years so far," she says.

"It has been a big part of my life as a mother and has made me passionate about helping other mums meet their breastfeeding goals."

Psychologist Sharon Draper, author of Stuck in the Mud, says the tattoos can be beneficial, as they can remind mums of the strength they found during breastfeeding.

"They can [also] be a form of self-expression to show the world how proud they are of something they believe in," she says.

Sharon says breastfeeding tattoos also send a positive message to others.

"For other mothers, seeing these mothers embrace breastfeeding in this way can provide a form of support to them, to let them know it's a positive thing and we shouldn't be ashamed of it."

If you're contemplating getting a breastfeeding tattoo, it's easy to find inspiration on social media. Type in 'breastfeeding tattoo' on Facebook or Instagram and you'll find many beautiful images of these works of art. Pinterest has stunning examples, too - as does a simple Google image search.

(See more images at the end of the article - story continues below post)

But if getting inked isn't your thing, there are other ways to express your love of breastfeeding.

Sharon says other mums may choose to wear a pendant that symbolises breastfeeding (or that is made of their own milk, such as these, or ones made by Baby Bee Hummingbirds).

Amanda Bude, a midwife from Groovy Babies, says yet others choose a breastfeeding photo shoot.

As for the tattoos, Amanda thinks they act as a permanent memory of that sense of "achievement and connection" a mother feels through breastfeeding.

If you're ready to take the plunge and get a tattoo, she says you should think carefully about whether you want to get it done while still breastfeeding.

She says health professionals often advise waiting until your baby is one year old before getting inked, due to potential infection risks. And Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) explains that getting tattoos increase the risk of bacterial infections.

 Viral infections such as Hepatitis B or C and HIV can also be transmitted if the equipment for tattooing isn't cleaned and sterilised properly between clients. This is of concern if you get a tattoo while breastfeeding, as HIV can be transmitted through breast milk.

The ABA therefore recommends choosing a reputable tattoo parlour and carefully assessing the health risks before proceeding, especially if you're still breastfeeding when you want to get it done.

Deidre had her tattoo done while still breastfeeding, and everything went smoothly. One year later, she says she is still thrilled with her decision.

"My [breastfeeding] tattoo is so much more than just a piece of art - it's part of myself."

 

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A photo posted by Lucy 💚 (@queen.mumma.lucy) on