News 11 Investigative Report: Mommy Tattoos - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

News 11 Investigative Report: Mommy Tattoos

First it was bikers and sailors, then trendy teens making body art their favorite form of expression.

Now, the latest trend in tattoos will have you saying "Mama-mia!" Yes, the number of moms getting inked is growing.

What kinds of sentiments are they tattooing -- and, are there any special concerns for mothers?

Katherine Jentink is a new mom, head over heels for her son Andrew. So in love that she's getting a special reminder of his birth tattooed on her shoulder.

"I'm going to get my son's footprint that they took the day he was born in the hospital," Jentink says.

Her tribute isn't extreme. In fact, it's mainstream. Nearly one-fourth of Americans from 18-50 now sport tattoos -- and many are just like Jentink.

Tattoo artist Chris Collett says moms walk into his shop all the time. "They get birth dates, some of them bring, like, the birth certificate with footprints," he says.

Dr. Margaret Weiss is a leading dermatologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She's seeing an explosion of ink on her female patients -- and not just on their shoulders and ankles.

"Depending on the group of people, as many as 25 percent of women under 30 may have a lower back tattoo," Weiss says.

As the trend took off, some doctors wondered if lower back tattoos could cause problems for women who receive epidural needles during labor.

"There is really no good data on whether or not tattoo pigment can enter the spinal cord and potentially cause problems with immune reactions down the road," Weiss says.

Dr. William Camann is an associate professor at Harvard and an expert in obstetric anesthesia. He says pigments do not get dragged into the spinal cavity during epidurals.

"One concern is that there could be some sort of toxicity from the ink itself. Well, the answer there is that one really does not need to worry," Camann claims. He performs epidurals on women with the tattoos all the time -- sometimes as many as three a day.

"We have never seen an adverse reaction that we can directly attribute to the tattoo," he says, explaining that the ink can't travel into the body once the tattoo is well healed.

All the doctors we spoke to insist women shouldn't get the drawings while pregnant. And when it comes to getting any tattoo, there is the risk of infection or disease. So do your homework first.

"Make sure they wear gloves, make sure they use sterile needles that are pre-packaged single-use disposable, sterile dyes," Camann says about tattoo artists.

Jentink says she had no trouble at all and loves having a permanent reminder of her little miracle. "He's gonna grow up and I'll always just have this little tiny footprint somewhere on me," she says.

Weiss doesn't ever recommend tattoos but says if you're determined to get one, try a temporary Henna tattoo first to see if it's really something you want. Regular tattoos can be removed, but it can be expensive and require multiple trips to a specialist.

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