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Mother Banned From Breastfeeding Because of Tattoo

Mother breast feeding her infant

A NSW Family Court has overturned Federal Circuit Court Judge Matthew Myers’ decision to grant an injunction to stop a mother from breastfeeding her son.

The father of the baby raised concerns about the baby’s safety after the mother got a tattoo last month. And despite the fact the mother has tested negative for hepatitis and HIV Judge Matthew Myers’ decision was to grant an injunction to stop the mother from breastfeeding her son.

According to 9News.com “The court heard Justice Myers came to his views on risks posed by tattoos to breastfed children by surfing the internet”. The case will be heard by a different judge at a later date – and the mother will be allowed to continue to breastfeed in the meantime.

Australia Breastfeeding Association’s CEO, Rebecca Naylor told ABC Radio during an interview“ I think unless there’s evidence that she has contracted an infection as a result of that tattoo, then it is unreasonable. Tattooing in and of itself, as long as, as I said, it’s done in reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low.” 

She went on to say. “So I guess my question would be, does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risk around the contraction of a blood-borne virus – so that’s what we’re talking about – shouldn’t be allowed to breast feed?”

And Dr. Karleen Gribble from the University of Western Sydney has said, “I’m only aware of one case where somebody contracted HIV from tattooing and that was somebody who’d got a tattoo in Bali, not somebody who’d gotten it in Australia.” and also “Most people consider that the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis from using a tattoo parlour, and particularly if they’ve been careful about checking it out, is infinitesimally small.” 

According to Hepatitis Australia “A small number of people have been infected with hepatitis C through unsterile tattooing, or body piercing procedures” though it’s much more likely to occur from tattoos in prison or a backyard tattooist – and this mother got her tattoo in a studio. With regards to breastfeeding, Hepatitis Australia says:

“There are no confirmed reports of hepatitis C transmission from mother to baby through breast milk and the current scientific opinion remains that there is no significant evidence of HCV transmission through breast-feeding.” 


Also Hepatitis B, which is also transferable with needles, according to World Health Organisation with a Hepatitis B vaccination “virtually eliminate any risk of transmission through breastfeeding or breastmilk feeding.”

Hopefully she will be allowed to continue to breastfeed and the ban will not be re-instated, not just for this mother, but for anyone who is currently breastfeeding, who could have that choice taken away from them without actual proof of harm.

About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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4 comments

  1. This was APPALLING! I was like you, totally shocked that it was within a judge’s discretion to make a decision like that. Completely unfounded.

  2. This was APPALLING! I was like you, totally shocked that it was within a judge’s discretion to make a decision like that. Completely unfounded.

  3. That’s it. That’s the frightening part is that it was completely unfounded. I didn’t know a judge had that kind of power.