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Collagen for Breastfeeding and Postpartum

Collagen is a dietary supplement that has been steadily growing in popularity. But what about for new mothers? Wondering if collagen is safe to take while breastfeeding? In today’s post, we’ll discuss the use of collagen for breastfeeding moms and its potential postpartum benefits.

Mother breastfeeding child in bed

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Disclaimer – This post is for informational purposes only and is not for diagnosing or treatment. See your medical provider or Registered Dietitian for individual recommendations. 


As a Registered Dietitian and mom to three kids, all of whom I’ve breastfed, I’ve done loads and loads of research about the safety of different foods, drinks, supplements and powders for breastfeeding.

Collagen seems to be more than just a recent trend. But is it safe for breastfeeding?

Whether you’re adding collagen to your coffee or protein shakes, if you’re nursing, you should know about the safety of collagen for breastfeeding.

What are the proven benefits of taking collagen? Are there any added benefits to collagen peptides for postpartum women?

Is it safe for breastfeeding moms to take collagen? Should you be adding it to your postpartum electrolyte drinks?

In this post, I’m answering all of these questions…and giving you recommendations for some of the best collagen supplements for breastfeeding mothers and reasons why you may want to consider collagen for postpartum.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein made by the body.

Collagen’s primary role is to build connective tissues, but it can also be found in bone, skin, cartilage, and tendons.

Collagen comes from animal sources and is made up of various amino acids that specifically aid in repair, like proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.

Building connective tissue is important during all phases of life, but especially postpartum. Connective tissue helps to give muscles, organs, and skin their structure, transport nutrients, and store fat.

Connective tissue also aids in damage repair. You can imagine that you have undergone alot of damage after giving birth.

So you DO want sufficient connective tissue to aid in that postpartum repair process.

Which brings us to the topic of collagen for breastfeeding moms.

Let’s be real. Your body endures A LOT during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Not only with nutrition and hydration, but nipple pain. Ouch!

This nipple cream was my lifesaver, and these belly and gel therapy packs helped a bunch too.

So you want to make sure you’re getting what you need – from a postpartum recovery kit perspective AND from nutrition.

electrolyte powder mixed in water

The body can make some of the amino acids in collagen, but others are “essential,” meaning we need to get them through the diet and/or supplements.

An increasing number of people are taking collagen to improve bone and skin health, including taking collagen for pregnancy.

Collagen is a trending supplement that is widely available and easy to take – it’s usually in a powder form that you can mix into your drink of choice.

Dietary Sources of Collagen Protein

While collagen supplements are easy to find, you can get also collagen from the foods you eat.

Not only can you consume collagen-rich foods, but you can boost your body’s ability to make collagen by eating sources of vitamin C, like citrus, broccoli, spinach, or berries.

Bowl of Soup and broth on wooden table

Food is one of the most important things you can focus on after you have a baby.

I’ve written about the best foods for postpartum recovery and also shared postpartum snack ideas that I have relied on during those vulnerable postpartum days when nourishment is key.

But, those snacks weren’t specifically focused on collagen. So, here are some collagen-rich food examples and we’ll also share how to enhance collagen in your overall diet.

  • Bone broth – Compared to regular broth, bone broth is high in those repair amino acids, like proline and glycine, since they were released directly from the animal’s bones into the liquid.
  • Fish with bones or skin (i.e., sardines, canned salmon, smelt)
  • Eggs – So much nutrition in eggs!
  • Chicken with the skin
  • Organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart, etc.)
  • Collagen peptide supplements – in many forms!

Is Collagen Safe for Breastfeeding?

Now, as a breastfeeding mom, you’re probably aware that you have to take certain precautions around foods when you are breastfeeding, like alcohol, caffeine, and even dairy foods, if your baby has a dairy allergy.

In the majority of cases, collagen for breastfeeding moms shouldn’t be a problem.

Because collagen is naturally found in food, it’s considered by most to be safe for breastfeeding. I actually started taking it around 4 months postpartum to help with hair loss.

Plus, it’s offering additional protein and micronutrients to your diet. You can mix it in with water or juice as part of your hydration for breastfeeding!

Mother breastfeeding child in bed

Collagen supplements are simply made by breaking the animal or marine (sourced from the sea, such as fish) protein into smaller particles, or peptides.

Whether you eat collagen-rich foods or take a supplement, it should be okay.

However, you should look over the ingredient list to make sure there are no other additives in there that you don’t feel comfortable with.

ALWAYS ASK YOUR PROVIDER

If you have medical conditions or concerns, you should always check with your healthcare provider first.

Benefits of Collagen for Postpartum

Whether you are breastfeeding or not, collagen for postpartum may be helpful for a few reasons.

Firstly, consider the healing aspect of postpartum.

Between healing from delivery and producing milk (lactation), you have an increased demand on your body, which translates to higher nutrient needs.

girl mixing a drink on the couch

Collagen peptides have been shown to have some potential benefits in addition to offering general extra protein to a population (breastfeeding moms) who have higher protein needs.

Therefore, a collagen powder postpartum may be a great addition to your daily diet.

Breastmilk production

For those who are breastfeeding, collagen supplementation may help you meet your protein intake.

While there isn’t any research that says that collagen itself improves milk supply, a diet with adequate protein intake supports breast milk production.

Your body needs the amino acids in protein to make milk proteins. Plus, a diet higher in protein can boost prolactin, one of the hormones responsible for milk production.

You should get at least 65-71 grams of protein (or an extra 17 grams) per day while nursing. Whether you’re a pregnant woman or postpartum, your protein needs are higher than the average woman.

This protein goal is achievable through food alone, but a supplement can certainly help when you are busy with a new baby. Just add it to your favorite lactation smoothie!

mom on couch with baby napping

The amount of protein in collagen supplements depends on the brand and serving size. On average, collagen peptides contain about 9 grams of protein per 10-gram serving.

The protein in collagen powder can help keep you full. Not to mention, at a time when breastfeeding hunger is unmatched, any little bit helps (in my experience).

My favorite breastfeeding night snack was a shelf-stable collagen protein bar that I kept on my nightstand.

collagen protein bars

Skin Health

Many people take collagen supplements for anti-aging and skin improvements.

Collagen supplementation has been shown to improve skin elasticity and hydration, two factors that can lead to wrinkles and an aging appearance.

Another benefit of the amino acids found in collagen peptides is the improved wound healing process.

You need more protein for tissue repair when you have a wound, such as a C-section incision, or tearing from birth. Furthermore, the amino acid, arginine, found in collagen also helps to improve wound healing.

Bone Health

Collagen also plays a role in bone and joint health. If collagen is properly produced by the body, it can lead to reduced joint pain and recovery from injury.

One study found that supplementing with 15 grams of collagen peptides daily was found to increase collagen synthesis.

Additionally, it has been found that supplementing with collagen peptides can improve bone mineral density.

dumbbell weights on wooden floor

This is especially important while breastfeeding, as your body will take minerals from your bones to ensure your breastmilk has what the baby needs, thereby reducing your bone mineral density.

To reduce your risk of osteoporosis, it’s important to protect your bone mineral density with proper diet and exercise (like postpartum running and strength work). Collagen supplementation can help.

Postpartum Hair Loss

If you’ve had a baby, you’ve likely experienced postpartum hair loss. Your hair may be coming out at alarming rates and collagen for postpartum hair loss may be a solution.

Up to 90% of women experience this hair loss, so you aren’t alone. And there is an association between increased hair loss and breastfeeding.

Rather than give up breastfeeding, it may be worth giving collagen supplementation a try for that healthy hair.

postpartum hair loss in hand

Collagen peptides have been shown to increase hair growth factors, and could potentially slow your hair loss and result in healthier hair.

Overall Health

Besides skin and bone benefits, collagen supplementation postpartum can help increase muscle mass and strength when paired with resistance training.

In addition, because of pain and injury’s ability to dampen mood, the recovery enhancement properties of collagen have been shown effective at improving mental health scores!

Another bonus—collagen supplementation may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure.

Again, these are potential benefits, but as always, consult with your care provider.

What to Mix with Collagen

Making a collagen drink for breastfeeding is an efficient way to get collagen in, while also staying hydrated.

homemade electrolyte drink with coconut lime flavor

Collagen powder is typically tasteless and can be mixed with many beverages and other foods. I would often mix it into my favorite healthy breakfasts for pregnancy

It can be used both hot and cold, and is a great way to enhance the uptake of other essential nutrients, like electrolytes, protein, fiber, etc.

Here are some things you can mix with collagen.

cropped-Peanut-Butter-Protein-Smoothie.jpg

Best Collagen for Breastfeeding Moms

If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to be a bit more critical when reading the ingredient list. Some of the options below do have other ingredients added, such as probiotics, Vitamin C, hyaloronic acid, etc.

Not every additional ingredient will be beneficial for everyone. Hence, the options for collagen supplements are plentiful.

Here are some of the collagen products I would recommend to a breastfeeding mom.

Ancient Nutrition Collagen Powder Protein with Probiotics, Unflavored Multi Collagen Protein with Vitamin C

This collagen supplement contains 10 types of collagen proteins, plus it has probiotics to enhance gut health.

Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein

Thrive Market Collagen

Thrive Market is my favorite grocery delivery service, especially as a postpartum mom. I get all of my snacks for the kids there!

The Thrive Market collagen is grass-fed and has a blend of 18 amino acids.

Their collagen is easy to use, affordable, and blends into everything really nicely. I have it on autoorder!

Thrive Market collagen bad

Vital Proteins Marine Collagen Peptides Powder Supplement

This marine collagen supplement is derived from wild-caught fish and is easily digested. And even though it’s made with fish, it is tasteless.

Vital proteins Marine Collagen

Multi Collagen Protein Powder Hydrolyzed (Type I II III V X) Grass-Fed All-in-One Super Bone Broth + Collagen Peptides

This protein supplement contains bone collagen from several sources, such grass-fed beef, plus chicken, fish, and eggs. Bonus, it’s made in the USA.

Multi collagen protein

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder

Vital Proteins is one of the OG’s when it comes to collagen supplements, and they make one of the top-selling supplements on the market.

It’s loved for its grass-fed product that contains vitamin C (to aid in absorption) and hyaluronic acid.

Vital proteins collagen peptides tub

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder Supplement Travel Packs

Looking for portable collagen supplements for when you’re breastfeeding on the go?

You can put these in your purse or diaper bag and add a little protein to your day while on-the-go.

portable Vital Protein supplement packs

Ancient Nutrition Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides Powder with Probiotics, Chocolate Multi Collagen Protein

While most collagen powders are flavorless, there are flavored options if you prefer that route.

If so, add these chocolate collagen peptides to your coffee, coffee smoothie or chocolate oatmeal for a chocolatey treat.

Ancient Nutrition chocolate oatmeal

Key Takeaways

Collagen and breastfeeding are certainly compatible, and in most cases, there can be many benefits of supplementing with collagen.

Not only is collagen easy to add to food and drinks, it can be flavorless and also add a punch of nutrition to what you’re already eating or drinking.

Collagen may help with bone health, skin health, breastmilk production, postpartum hair loss, and even overall health.

Always talk to your care provider before taking a new supplement.

References:

  • Baginski L, Winter M, Bailey TS, Capobianco S, Granese M, et al. (2016) Response to Hydrolysed Collagen Protein Supplementation in a Cohort of Pregnant and Post-Partum Women. J Preg Child Health 3: 275. doi:10.4172/2376-127X.1000275
  • Paul C, Leser S, Oesser S. Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1079. Published 2019 May 15. doi:10.3390/nu11051079
  • Kominiarek MA, Rajan P. Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. Med Clin North Am. 2016;100(6):1199-1215. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004
  • Pu SY, Huang YL, Pu CM, et al. Effects of Oral Collagen for Skin Anti-Aging: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2023;15(9):2080. Published 2023 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu15092080
  • Daher GS, Choi KY, Wells JW, Goyal N. A Systematic Review of Oral Nutritional Supplement and Wound Healing. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2022;131(12):1358-1368. doi:10.1177/00034894211069437
  • Khatri M, Naughton RJ, Clifford T, Harper LD, Corr L. The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review. Amino Acids. 2021;53(10):1493-1506. doi:10.1007/s00726-021-03072-x
  • König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):97. Published 2018 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/nu10010097
  • Hirose A, Terauchi M, Odai T, et al. Investigation of exacerbating factors for postpartum hair loss: a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2023;9(2):e084. Published 2023 Jun 16. doi:10.1097/JW9.0000000000000084
  • Hwang SB, Park HJ, Lee BH. Hair-Growth-Promoting Effects of the Fish Collagen Peptide in Human Dermal Papilla Cells and C57BL/6 Mice Modulating Wnt/β-Catenin and BMP Signaling Pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23(19):11904. Published 2022 Oct 7. doi:10.3390/ijms231911904
  • Jendricke P, Centner C, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A, König D. Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019;11(4):892. Published 2019 Apr 20. doi:10.3390/nu11040892
  • Kviatkovsky SA, Hickner RC, Cabre HE, Small SD, Ormsbee MJ. Collagen peptides supplementation improves function, pain, and physical and mental outcomes in active adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2023;20(1):2243252. doi:10.1080/15502783.2023.2243252
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