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Can collagen supplements help with stretch marks in pregnancy?

Pregnant lady in comfortable clothing reclining on a sofa pouring a glass of water

For the majority of women, stretch marks are an expected part of pregnancy. It’s estimated that 8 out of 10 women will experience them around this time.  Most common across the tummy, breasts, hips and thighs, they appear because the sudden growth that happens during pregnancy causes the inner layer of your skin (the dermis) to thin out and tear.

While some of us learn to love the changes to our bodies during and after pregnancy (after all, they’re a real testament to the amazing achievement of growing and birthing a baby), it’s also completely normal to want to avoid or minimise stretch marks. As part of our series about collagen, which is the building block for all things ‘stretchy’ in our bodies, I asked women’s nutritionist Jessica Ferrari-Wells whether taking a collagen supplement could help prevent stretch marks in pregnancy.

Here’s what she had to say:

“I’m afraid I don’t have a straightforward answer to this. We don’t have research specifically looking at it. But it’s certainly possible – see the end of this article for why.

But first let’s look closer at the potential benefits of collagen during pregnancy and postpartum…

Collagen, along with gelatin, are the two richest sources of an important amino acid called glycine. In fact, collagen is one-third glycine by weight. 

Glycine gets very little attention because it’s “conditionally essential” meaning our body can make it from other amino acids – so most of the time our intake of glycine doesn’t really matter. 

However, pregnancy (and possibly also postpartum) is a special case where our body requires additional glycine. Researchers have concluded that “the demand for glycine during pregnancy may already exceed the capacity for its synthesis, making it conditionally indispensable” and “as pregnancy advances, the endogenous production of glycine (meaning what your body is able to make from other amino acids) may be insufficient to satisfy the increasing demands”

So why the greater need for glycine?

Glycine is needed to make foetal DNA and collagen, among many other functions. It’s especially important during later pregnancy when baby is gaining weight rapidly. Baby’s developing organs, skin, bones and connective tissue all need glycine for their formation. So your baby needs a lot of glycine! 

And so do you. Your own body is depending on glycine just as much to support your growing breasts, uterus and stretching skin. One fact that really drives this home is that your uterus contains a whopping 800% more collagen by the end of your pregnancy compared to pre-pregnancy. 

What about postpartum?

Well, collagen (and gelatin) play a key role in healing connective tissue which explains why bone broth and meals made with the skin and connective tissues of animals (where collagen and gelatin are found in abundance) are key postpartum foods around the globe. Collagen is likely to be helpful in encouraging your tummy skin to regain its elasticity, to speed healing of your perineal tissues and to help your uterus return to its former size. 

I certainly made a habit of adding collagen powder to every smoothie, cacao or herbal tea I drank postpartum to ensure a steady supply of this important nutrient.”

So returning to the original question… is it possible that collagen may help prevent stretch marks? It’s certainly possible. 

Striae gravidarum is the term for where stretch marks appear on the skin of women during pregnancy, typically on the abdomen, breasts, hips and thighs. They usually start appearing from the 24th week of gestation.

A research paper from 2016 noted: “The exact mechanism that leads to striae gravidarum is yet to be elucidated, but it is clearly related to the alteration in dynamics of skin connective tissue. A combination of mechanical stretching and hormonal factors are reported to be vital in the aetiology… Hormones such as relaxin, oestrogen, and adrenocortical hormones are believed to reduce the adhesiveness of collagen fibres. They also alter the structure of both collagen and elastin fibres, making them less prone to stretching.”

So it’s certainly possible that adequate dietary glycine (from consuming collagen or gelatin) might help in this regard”. 

Portrait photograph of nutritionist Jess Ferrari-Wells

About the author

Jessica Ferrari-Wells is a registered nutritional therapist who studied at the prestigious Institute for Optimum Nutrition. She specialises in fertility, preconception, pregnancy and postpartum, using nutritional science as the basis for easy and practical positive steps to help her clients thrive. Find out more about Jessica at or on Instagram @jessicaferrariwellsnutrition


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