Between my two sons, I have been breastfeeding for quite a few years now (gulp!). As my journey comes to a close, I’ve been thinking that I should commemorate the experience in some way. (Frankly, even though my youngest son and I are ready for weaning, I’m having a hard time fighting back the tears I feel about ending it.)
I’ve got some photos, and I’ve written a bunch about breastfeeding my kids too. I’ve even heard that there’s a way to make jewelry from your milk. But a group of mothers have found a way to make sure they have a constant reminder of their precious breastfeeding relationship — and a permanent one at that.
Enter, the breastfeeding tattoo.
A quick peek at Instagram shows that the hashtag #BreastfeedingTattoo has been trending a lot lately, and I have to say that although I’ve never gotten a tattoo — and might never have the courage to do so — I am definitely intrigued and actually incredibly moved by these particular ones. It seems like a perfect way to pay tribute to the breastfeeding bond.
And seriously, you’ve got to check out the amazing ink that these badass moms are sporting.
Babble was able to catch up with a few moms who were happy to share their pics, and discuss just why they got their tattoos, as well as the meaning behind them.
Brenna shares that she had her tattoo done after she’d reached her 3-month breastfeeding goal. “My son and I had a really tough start to nursing and I wanted a tattoo to commemorate the obstacles we overcame,” Brenna tells Babble. The proud mom ended up nursing her son for 22 months and calls breastfeeding “one of the biggest accomplishments” of her life.
Another mom, named Kristina, says she was told she’d never have children due to medical issues, so her son’s birth was a miracle to begin with. She always knew she wanted to breastfeed, but the reality was much harder than she expected.
“My milk came in very late,” she explains. “My son had tongue and lip ties, and my supply suffered.”
But they got through it, supplementing with donor milk and formula until things began to run smoothly. Her son is now 27 months old and happily nursing.
“I got this tattoo as a reminder of how hard we worked and the special place breastfeeding will always hold in my heart!” Kristina says.
Karen Walsh is a lactation consultant and La Leche League leader who breastfed both of her children long-term. She says that her tattoo means a lot to her both personally and professionally, and helps remind her of all the moms she’s helped with meeting their breastfeeding goals. She tells Babble that she wanted a way to “immortalize breastfeeding on [her] body” as an expression of its love and beauty. She also feels that her tattoo serves as a way to normalize breastfeeding for the rest of the world.
Kali tells Babble that she nursed her son for three-and-a-half years, and is currently breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter. She says that her own mother breastfed her for 18 months and calls breastfeeding “just the most beautiful thing I had to do for my children and for me.” She is also a photographer who works with breastfeeding mothers, so breastfeeding has a “huge place” in her heart and in her professional life.
Amie calls her stunning ink “a symbol of my relationship with my son and our journey.” But it’s even more than that for her: “I also think it’s a symbol of strength and empowerment,” she tells Babble. The tattoo displays her pride at making it as far as she has with breastfeeding.
Danielle Joseph McKay is a lactation consultant, placental encapsulation specialist, and mom of four who breastfed all of her children. As such, she has all of her four nurslings tattooed to her back, to “commemorate each of my children and our breastfeeding relationship,” she tells Babble. Each one was added separately, the summer after each of her children was born.
Brittany shares with Babble that when she had her first child, she didn’t know a lot about breastfeeding and gave up soon after she started. So when she had her second child (a daughter), she was determined to make it work. And her determination has paid off.
“The bond with her, from breastfeeding, has been the most empowering feeling I’ve ever had,” Brittany says, “We reach our eighth month tomorrow and I just wanted something beautiful to pay tribute to that. If you notice in the shell, there is a letter C for her name.”
If you’re wondering if it’s safe to get inked while nursing, the evidence-based breastfeeding site Kellymom says that getting tattooed while breastfeeding is actually generally quite safe. However, it’s important that you choose a tattoo artist who follows “universal precautions,” including sterilization and sanitization of all instruments.
To lessen the risk of infection, it’s recommended that mothers wait until their babies are past the newborn stage, with some professionals recommending waiting until 9-12 months. Kellymom says that any existing tattoos a mother has when her baby is born pose no risk.
Breastfeeding tattoos are a fabulous way to celebrate and memorialize the breastfeeding experience (which I can tell you firsthand is more fleeting than you realize when you’re in it). But what strikes me most about many of these women who shared their experiences is that the tattoos are also very much about their own empowerment and strength as mothers and women, as well as symbols of the struggles they overcame to breastfeed.
These mothers are proud, beautiful, and total rockstars. And I have to say, I am this close to pushing aside my fear of needles and getting a breastfeeding tattoo myself.