Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but as many women know, learning to understand new nutritional needs and restrictions can be stressful. Since collagen is a widely used supplement, it’s no wonder that many women are asking the same question: can I take collagen while pregnant?
While staying up on nutritional needs is important during and after pregnancy, taking the right supplements should be a primary focus. Anytime you start a new supplement, do so under the consultation of your doctor. This is even more important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you’ve found yourself wondering if you should take collagen while pregnant, or asked the internet: “can I take collagen while breastfeeding?”, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll answer the question of the safety of collagen while pregnant once and for all.
Can you take collagen while pregnant or breastfeeding?
During and after pregnancy, your body is going through some immense changes, and it needs all the support it can get. A lot of this comes from living a healthy lifestyle and getting the proper nutrition.
As you may already know, your body needs a ton of additional nutrients to support a growing baby when you are pregnant and breastfeeding. When you aren’t getting the nutrition you need, then it is you, the mom, that ends up going without enough nutrients. That’s because your body allocates more to support the baby’s growth.
How you support your body during and after pregnancy will vary from mother to mother, and because of the potential benefits of collagen as a supplement, taking collagen while pregnant seems like it could be a very favorable option.
So, let’s examine the question: “can I take collagen while pregnant?”
The short answer is, yes, you can take collagen while pregnant, and you can use collagen while breastfeeding.
BUT it should be done so under the supervision of your doctor or midwife.
Although collagen is generally considered a safe supplement by the FDA, any food or supplement has the potential for adverse side effects.
When you introduce collagen to your diet, you will also want to choose the highest quality collagen supplement from a reputable company.
Disclaimer about collagen during pregnancy: Marine collagen should never be used while pregnant. This is for the same reason that you should avoid eating fish and seafood because of the risk associated with mercury consumption.
Opt for collagen from other animal sources or a plant-based collagen booster. The ingredients will be labeled on the collagen supplement label (or nutrition label if it is classified as a medical food).
There isn’t a ton of research regarding taking collagen while pregnant. Still, because of the potential benefits, many women have found that it is an excellent way to get additional, high-quality protein into their diet.
3 benefits of taking collagen while pregnant
Many of the benefits of taking collagen while pregnant overlap with the general collagen benefits for women. However, because your body’s natural collagen production decreases with age, your age and other health factors can contribute to how beneficial taking collagen may be.
If you already took collagen before your pregnancy, you may be well aware of the potential benefits, but your body may be reacting differently. As you move through the different trimesters of your pregnancy, you may notice that your appetite changes, as do the things you like eating!
So, even if taking collagen while pregnant worked in the beginning, your body may change how it feels and reacts.
Now that we’ve answered the question: can I take collagen while pregnant? Let’s discuss three reasons why using collagen during pregnancy may be beneficial.
1. Collagen may help prevent pregnancy-related bone loss
You may experience some bone loss throughout your pregnancy, after birth, and while breastfeeding.
Bone loss commonly occurs because the baby has an increased need for calcium, and unless you are supplementing with calcium, it is being drawn from your bones.
In most cases, you can restore any bone loss that occurs within a few months after breastfeeding has stopped.
To get ahead of this bone loss, introducing collagen peptides into your diet may help.
Since collagen is the most prolific protein found in our bodies and is the primary structural protein we need, giving your body more collagen may help keep your bones strong and healthy during and after pregnancy.
Most of the time, your body will naturally apply the collagen to areas that need healing. In the case of a pregnant mother that needs bone support, your body will likely allocate some to your bones to help them maintain structure and strength.
2. Collagen may help reduce swelling and joint pain
Collagen might be one of the best supplements to introduce into your life if you have arthritis. If you have arthritis before you are pregnant, supporting healthy joints may become more of a focus during the pregnancy.
Not all arthritis medications are recommended during pregnancy, so turning towards natural supplements like collagen while pregnant may help curb some of the joint pain and inflammation.
Pregnancy introduces your body to completely new experiences and hormone levels, which can cause some women to develop rheumatoid arthritis. If you do not develop it during the pregnancy itself, it may occur soon after giving birth.
Although collagen will not cure or reverse any form of arthritis, collagen proteins are an essential part of maintaining healthy joint structures. Adding collagen while pregnant may help decrease some of the symptoms related to arthritis.
3. Collagen may help with digestion
One commonly overlooked benefit of collagen is that it may help with stomach health and digestion. When looking at collagen for digestion, it is important to look at the absorption rate.
If possible, seek out nano hydrolyzed collagen.
In the best-case scenario, your collagen supplement will also have digestive enzymes added to make it easier on your stomach.
Many women who struggle with morning sickness during pregnancy will be happy to find a collagen supplement easy on the stomach because not all protein supplements are.
Besides being easy to digest if you are using the right supplement brand, taking collagen while pregnant may also help keep your stomach and intestinal lining healthy.
Women with preexisting digestive issues, such as a leaky gut, may benefit even more from collagen during pregnancy. If you have a leaky gut, digestion becomes much harder, and some toxins are more likely to slip through into your bloodstream.
By using a daily collagen supplement, you could improve your digestive process and lessen your leaky gut issues. Taking collagen while pregnant may help return your tight junctions to the appropriate size and prevent toxins from being absorbed.
Benefits of taking collagen postpartum and while breastfeeding
While there seem to be several reasons why collagen may be beneficial to take throughout your pregnancy, what about postpartum and while you are breastfeeding?
Many women experience some severe bodily changes postpartum. As your body heals and moves through additional changes after you’ve given birth, it is a good idea to continue to work with your doctor and take the necessary supplements your body needs to function properly.
After all, your body needs to recover from the trauma of giving birth, the skin on your stomach needs to heal, you likely have stretch marks, and your hips and joints need to shift back into place.
A lot is happening in your body postpartum, which is why it is important to continue to support your healing several months post-birth.
Collagen may be helpful for some women during this healing process for many of the same reasons we discussed above. For instance, because your joints, especially your hips, had to shift to allow the baby out of the birth canal, your body now needs to recover.
There may have also been some damage during the birthing process to various areas of your body. For either instance, your body needs to heal with ample amounts of protein and amino acids.
Collagen, especially collagen fortified to be a complete protein, contains the amino acids your body needs to go through any wound healing process.
By taking a collagen supplement, you provide your body with the necessary amino acids to repair cells, synthesize protein molecules, and produce healing enzymes. All of these things may speed up your recovery process.
Although they aren’t necessary to heal, many women struggle with body image after birth, especially with stretch marks. Stretch marks are a beautiful part of the pregnancy process, but not all women want to keep them forever.
Collagen is most known for its potential anti-aging benefits, and that is because studies have shown that it may improve and maintain skin elasticity as you age. So, after giving birth, continuing to take collagen may help your skin regain the elasticity that you desire.
Taking collagen for stretch marks is similar to taking collagen to help heal other parts of your body. If your body has more access to the amino acids it needs to synthesize collagen, then your body can distribute collagen to non-essential places like your skin.
How to choose the best collagen supplement
Although collagen is generally a safe supplement to take, how do you know which collagen to use during and after pregnancy?
First things first, always look for hydrolyzed collagen, or better yet, nano-hydrolyzed collagen.
When collagen is in its whole form, the molecules are too big for you to digest efficiently, so you end up missing out on some of those important amino acids. Hydrolyzed collagen has gone through the process of hydrolysis.
Hydrolysis takes the whole collagen molecule and, through a process involving water, breaks the protein molecules into smaller, more digestible pieces. If a supplement has been hydrolyzed, the label will read “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen peptides.” These phrases are synonymous.
Beyond that, as we mentioned, avoid marine sourced collagen.
You may also be wondering, how much collagen should I take in a day? That will vary from person to person and should be discussed with a medical professional and nutritionist.
Other things to look for when deciding on the right collagen to take during pregnancy include:
- Seeing if the company’s health claims are backed by third-party sources and research studies.
- Checking that all ingredients are disclosed transparently.
- Ensuring that there are no additives or unnecessary ingredients. (i.e., added sugar, flavoring, etc.)
Choosing the right collagen while pregnant will be a personal choice, and it may not be necessary. If you decide to integrate collagen into your diet during pregnancy or postpartum, don’t forget to consult your doctor and consider the risk factors of your specific circumstances.
See the complete guide to collagen protein for more information about the medical applications of collagen supplements.