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Considering Collagen During Pregnancy? What The Research Says

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If you’re looking for a way to keep your skin looking smooth and elastic during pregnancy, collagen might be a good option

During pregnancy, your body undergoes a lot of changes. 

Your skin stretches to accommodate your growing belly, your joints loosen to prepare for childbirth, and your hair and nails grow faster than usual. 

All of these changes put added stress on your body’s collagen stores, which is why some women turn to collagen supplements during pregnancy. 

But do they work? 

And more importantly, are they safe? 

Let’s take a closer look at the current research so you can make an informed decision.

Discloser: I am not a doctor and the content on this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for the information and advice you receiver from your healthcare provider.

What Is Collagen?

Before we get into the benefits of taking collagen during pregnancy, let’s start with the basics – what exactly is collagen? 

Collagen is the most abundant protein that’s found naturally throughout your body, making up one third of the body’s total protein

It’s found in the connective tissues of our skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage and it plays an important role in providing strength and structure to these tissues. 

We start to see a decline in collagen production as we age, which is why supplements have become so popular in recent years. 

The word “Collagen” is derived from the Greek word “kolla” meaning glue. So, basically you can think of it as the “glue” that holds your entire body together. (*)

There are many different types of collagen, but the most common is Type I collagen, which makes up 90% of the collagen in our bodies.(*)

  • Type I– This type of collagen is extremely strong. It is important in healing and gives skin strength and elasticity, something of which we lose as we age.
  • Type II– This type of collagen is found in cartilage and is extremely strong. It plays a key role in would healing and gives skin strength and elasticity.
  • Type III– Found in blood vessels and organs and it help them function properly.
  • Type IV– Found primarily in your skin
  • Type V-Found in cell membranes and tissue of the placenta. it is also found in hair and nails

Fun Fact

According to some studies, gram for gram, type I collagen is stronger than steel! (*) This is why we want to preserve it during pregnancy and as we age! Strong skin, less wrinkles!

What is a Collagen Supplement?

Remember, collagen is naturally produced in the human body.

However, collagen production decreases as we age which is why we develop more wrinkles and joint pain.

We can get some collagen from the foods we eat such as bone broth however these molecules are too large to be absorbed in their whole form.

And let’s be honest, making fresh batches of bone broth on a regular basis is not realistic for most people, especially busy moms.

This is where supplementation is beneficial.

Collagen peptides used in supplements are made by breaking down proteins that are naturally sourced from animals by cooking the bones, skin, and/or connective tissue. (*)

These molecules are smaller and more easily absorbed by the body and much more convenient to consume consistently.

Collagen peptide supplements are an easy way to boost collagen intake.

What Are the Benefits Of Taking Collagen During Pregnancy?

While there hasn’t been a lot of research specifically on collagen and pregnancy, some studies do suggest potential health benefits of taking collagen during this special time. 

  • Supports a healthy pregnancy: Some studies suggest that collagen and its fragment are present at the maternal fetal interface. The placenta must have a strong connection to the uterus in order for the pregnancy to be successful. This interface is highly dependent on collagen expression and would not exist without adequate presence of collagen. The regulation of expression of collagen is quite complex, and this process involves a multitude of factors. Collagen exerts a critical role during the successful pregnancy. (*)
  • Potential Benefits for The Baby: Some studies have shown that supplementing with collagen during pregnancy can benefit fetal development. Collagen might provide a protective effect for the mother and baby during pregnancy by providing essential nutrients, such different forms of protein.
  • Better Skin Elasticity: Supplementing with collagen during pregnancy can improve the elasticity in your skin to help reduce stretch marks and fine lines and wrinkles.
  • One study found that women who took a supplement containing 2.5-5 grams of collagen for eight weeks saw less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who only took the placebo. (*).
  • Another study found that women who took a supplement containing 2.5-5 grams of collagen for eight weeks saw less skin dryness and a significant increase in skin elasticity compared to those who only took the placebo. (*).
  • However, predisposition to stretch marks is mostly genetic and there are very few things that can reduce the chances of getting them but increasing collagen may prevent the severity of them.
  • Reduces Joint Pain: During pregnancy, our bodies release a hormone called “relaxin” which is meant to soften the pelvis for delivery and allow the connective tissue of the abdominal muscles to soften and allow the muscles to separate in order to make room for the baby.
  • The combination of hormonal changes and the extra weight gain can significantly increase pain in the joints, pelvis and back.
  • Supplementing with collagen may help reduce joint pain by improving the strength and integrity of cartilage and connective tissue surrounding the joints.

Related: Stretch Marks During Pregnancy [How To Prevent or Reduce Them Naturally]

  • May Prevent Hair Loss: Hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause hair loss or dry/brittle hair.
  • There is not much research on the effects of collagen supplementation on hair health but many moms, myself included, swear by it for maintaining a full and vibrant head of hair both during pregnancy and postpartum.
  • Increase Protein: Pregnant women require significantly more protein during pregnancy.
  • The American Pregnancy Association recommends about 75-100 grams of protein per day.
  • However, not all protein sources are created equal.
  • Collagen, on its own, is not a complete source of protein because it does not contain the full essential amino acid profile as other sources such as meat, poultry, fish or legumes.
  • But, when combined with other sources of complete proteins, collagen can help you reach your protein intake goals.
  • It also provides essential amino acids that may be lacking from diets insufficient in these foods.
  • May Prevent Diastasis Recti Postpartum: During pregnancy, the rectus abdominis muscles begin to separate at the connective tissue called the “linea alba”.
  • Because collage is a vital component of connective tissue, it could help maintain the integrity of this tissue and reduce the degree of abdominal separation during pregnancy.
  • I was unable to find specific evidence to support this exact claim.
  • However, based on my education and experience, collagen supports the connective tissue in our bodies which includes the linea alba.
  • Wound Healing and Recovery: Pregnant women require significantly more protein during pregnancy.
  • Because collagen is the structural component of connective tissue, it’s a great supplement for helping your body heal both during and after pregnancy.
  • One study showed that moms who took collagen protein in the third trimester and continued taking it for 10 weeks postpartum reported improvement in healing after birth compared to moms you did not take the supplement.
  • May Reduce Cellulite: Although there is no concrete conclusion to the cause of cellulite or treatment, it is known that improvements in skin strength and elasticity are two important therapeutic aims in cellulite treatment.
  • Although there is no concrete conclusion to the cause of cellulite or treatment, it is known that improvements in skin strength and elasticity are two important therapeutic aims in cellulite treatment.
  • I cannot claim that supplementing with collagen will prevent cellulite but improving skin elasticity may help!

Related: Cellulite During Pregnancy [What it is and How To Get Rid of It]

Aside from healthy skin, vibrant hair and lubricated joints, collagen also plays a role in promoting a healthy gut, digestion, reducing inflammation and may reduce morning sickness.

A picture of a pregnant mom in a black sports bra, black exercise pants and maroon shoes. the image on the left is the benefits of collagen for pregnancy

Is it Safe to Take Collagen When Pregnant?

Considering the above benefits of collagen during pregnancy, it is understandable why moms would want to continue their daily dose during pregnancy.

But is it safe?

Unfortunately there is very little research on collagen peptide supplements during pregnancy.

However, based on the research that has been done and the safety profile of collagen supplements, it is generally considered safe to take during pregnancy.

It is always recommended to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking any supplement.

This is especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you are considering adding collagen peptides to your prenatal or postnatal supplement routine, make sure to look for quality sources with clean ingredients and minimal additives.

The Best Collagen Supplements For Pregnancy

If you have received the green light from your doctor and collagen supplementation is right for you, make sure to look for quality sources with clean ingredients and minimal additives.

There are several different types of collagen supplements including marine collagen, bovine collagen, and plant-based collagen.

  • Marine collagen: Sourced from fish and is easily absorbed by the body. It’s an excellent source of essential amino acids like glycine which helps form connective tissue and revitalize existing tissue.
  • Bovine collagen: comes from beef or chickens with the most popular type being hydrolyzed bovine collagen peptides. It is also easily absorbed by the body, however it can be a bit more difficult to digest and some people with sensitivities may not tolerate it.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a vegan collagen supplement because collagen is 100% animal-based.

A vegan supplement can help boost your own bodies ability to produce collagen but cannot provide it directly.

No matter which type of collagen supplement you choose, make sure to read the label for additional ingredients and confirm that there are no artificial colors or flavors added.

Here are my top 3 recommendations:

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Here is what I love about them:

  • I personally use and love Vital Proteins
  • There are no fillers or heavy metals
  • They use a third party to test for heavy metals and microbiological components
  • BPA free containers that seal out moisture to prevent contamination
  • All products come from real food sources
  • Gluten Free
  • Whole 30 approved

Biomeology Prenatal Collagen Peptides

Here is what I love about them:

  • Created with pregnant women in mind
  • Verified pesticide free
  • Collagen sourced from grass-fed and pasture-raised
  • Flavorless, odorless and easily dissolves in your favorite drinks

Needed Pure Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder

Here is what I love about them:

  • Created with pregnant moms in mind
  • Amino acid profile tailored to meet the increased protein demands of pregnancy
  • Grass-feed, pasture-raised, hormone-free Bovines
  • Easy and fast dissolving into your favorite drinks
  • Flavorless and odorless

Other FAQ on Collagen During Pregnancy

Here are some other questions regarding collagen during pregnancy.

Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects Of Collagen?

Collagen supplements are generally considered safe, but as with any supplement, it is best to consult your doctor before taking one.

In some cases, people may be allergic or intolerant to bovine collagen and may experience digestive symptoms such as gas or bloating. Any potential side effects should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

How Should You Consume Collagen?

Collagen supplements come in either a pill or powder forms.

However, powders are typically more popular because of their convenience.

Because most collagen supplements are odorless and tasteless, you can add collagen powder to just about anything including:

  • Protein shakes
  • Smoothies
  • Coffee
  • Yogurt
  • Water or Juice
  • Even oatmeal or cereal

Hydrolyzed collagen peptide powders are easy to blend into your favorite drinks or smoothies.

What Are Some Other Ways To Increase Collagen in My Diet?

If you are weary about a collagen supplement during pregnancy, here are some other food sources to increase your collagen intake without taking a supplement:

  • Bone broth: Slow cooked animal bones in water provides a broth packed with collagen, minerals and amino acids.
  • Eat more fish: Fish contains high amounts of glycine, an essential amino acid that helps form the building blocks of collagen. However, be choose fish that is low in mercury.
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of antioxidants which can help protect and preserve collagen.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body produce more collagen naturally. Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all good sources of vitamin C.
  • Add gelatin to recipes: Gelatin is made from processed animal collagen and can be added to food or drinks like smoothies, soups, sauces and custards.

Do Collagen Lotions and Oils Prevent Stretch Marks?

Companies market their collagen lotions and/or oils to help prevent stretch marks but the truth is, collagen cannot be absorbed by the skin.

When applied on the skin surface, the molecules are too large to penetrate the skin.

These lotions and oils can provide hydration to the skin but they won’t do much for stretch marks or wrinkles.

Boosting collagen from the inside out will give you the most benefit.

A Final Word On Collagen During Pregnancy

So, should you take collagen during pregnancy?

If you’re looking for a way to keep your skin looking smooth and elastic during pregnancy, reduce stretch marks and improve joint pain, then collagen is definitely worth considering! Just be sure to talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s right for you.

I have taken collagen with all four of my babies and I can say with confidence that it has been a game changer not only in my skin, hair and nails but it has also helped me reach greater fitness goals by reducing joint pain, healing my postpartum body and helping with muscle recovery.

FACT CHECK

Struggles of a Fit Mom uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within it’s articles. Read my  editorial process to learn more about how I fact-check and keep my content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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Shoulders MD, Raines RT. Collagen structure and stability. Annu Rev Biochem. 2009;78:929-958. doi:10.1146/annurev.biochem.77.032207.120833

Reilly DM, Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plast Aesthet Res 2021;8:2.

Collagen. (n.d.). Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Collagen

Bagchi D, Misner B, Bagchi M, Kothari SC, Downs BW, Fafard RD, Preuss HG. Effects of orally administered undenatured type II collagen against arthritic inflammatory diseases: a mechanistic exploration. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2002;22(3-4):101-10. PMID: 12837047.

Baginski, Leon & Winter, Marc & Bailey, Thomas & Capobianco, Scott & Granese, Marsha & MA, Freddie & Miller, Kurt & Price, Kerry & Ramirez, Sara & Salcido, Craig & Turner, Frank & Toole, Mary. (2016). Response to Hydrolysed Collagen Protein Supplementation in a Cohort of Pregnant and Postpartum Women. Journal of Pregnancy and Child Health. 3. 10.4172/2376-127X.1000275. 

Shi JW, Lai ZZ, Yang HL, Yang SL, Wang CJ, Ao D, Ruan LY, Shen HH, Zhou WJ, Mei J, Fu Q, Li MQ. Collagen at the maternal-fetal interface in human pregnancy. Int J Biol Sci. 2020 May 25;16(12):2220-2234. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.45586. PMID: 32549767; PMCID: PMC7294936.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2022, October 26). Questions and Answers on Dietary Supplements. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/information-consumers-using-dietary-supplements/questions-and-answers-dietary-supplements

Baginski, L. M. W. (2016, September 30). Response to Hydrolysed Collagen Protein Supplementation in a Cohort of Pregnant and Postpartum Women. OMICS International. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/response-to-hydrolysed-collagen-protein-supplementation-in-a-cohort-ofpregnant-and-postpartum-women-2376-127X-1000275.php?aid=79903