What is Linea Nigra? Here's what you need to know about that dark line on your belly during pregnancy

What is Linea Nigra? Here's what you need to know about that dark line on your belly during pregnancy

Mommies wonder whether it is permanent or if it will ever go away. Here is a lowdown on what it is and how you can manage it during and after your baby bump.

Pregnant moms, do you notice that dark line in the middle of your belly? When does linea nigra appear and will it also fade after pregnancy? Learn the answers here.

What can you read in this article?

  • Do all moms get linea nigra?
  • When does linea nigra appear?
  • Will it ever disappear?

This dark line smack dab in the middle of my belly is not at all attractive.

What causes this pregnancy line? Does everyone have it? Will it ever disappear? What is it for, really?

Pregnancy brings joy and a different kind of high, along with all the (sometimes) unexpected changes to your body.

Weight gain, darkened skin, stretch marks, unwanted hair on parts of your body, morning sickness, and then this: a dark line that appears from your belly button, running down vertically to your pubic area. Oh, please no. But it’s there, whether you like it or not.

This pregnancy line is the linea nigra.

You may not have noticed it before, but it has always been there, however very light. Before pregnancy, it is called ‘linea alba’ or white line.

When does linea nigra appear?

As your baby bump gets bigger, the line becomes more pronounced and visible, especially during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. The term literally means ‘black line’ in Latin.

Hyperpigmentation is one of the drawbacks of pregnancy. You may notice your armpits and neck area getting darker, even your nipples. These color changes are usually the result of increased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which help your baby develop.

According to Healthline, estrogen and progesterone stimulate cells called melanocytes in your skin, which causes them to produce more melanin, the pigment responsible for skin tanning or darkening.

Do all moms have it?

Almost 80 percent of pregnant women notice that dark line that passes through their belly button. But it’s less common and less noticeable for women with fair skin.

And while it can be a little bothersome to look at, the linea nigra does not, in any way, affect your pregnancy. It isn’t harmful to you and your baby, and you don’t need to have any medical treatment because of it.

In fact, some people believe that the dark line in the middle of your belly has something to do with the gender of your baby. However, there wasn’t any science that backs this theory.

When does the linea nigra disappear?

linea nigra permanent

Is my linea nigra permanent? Like other pregnancy changes, it can fade over time. | image courtesy: shutterstock

The good news is, this dark line fades or lightens on its own after giving birth. After delivery, hormone levels are bound to gradually return to its original levels, and the color of that dark line will slowly, but rather surely, become less obvious.

However, for some women, the line would still be noticeable after pregnancy. For some it takes 3 months, for others it takes about a year for it to completely fade or disappear. If you have darker complexion, it might take a bit longer because linea nigra is darker.

And if you do get pregnant again, expect this line on your belly to make an appearance. In her book, Murkoff explains that the linea nigra tends to be lighter on your succeeding pregnancy. Some women don’t even have it the second or third time around. Or maybe you’re just too preoccupied to even notice it.


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Some ways to manage the linea nigra

There is no way to keep it from becoming darker as your pregnancy progresses, but by staying covered and away from the sun, you should be fine, according to the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff. Sun exposure can make the line in your belly appear darker.

Using olive oil, 100% Vitamin E oil, and Vitamin E-rich cream, butter or lotion may also help lighten it. Like with other pregnancy skin changes such as stretch marks, it is important to keep your skin moisturized at all times.

According to some research, folate can help lighten skin discolorations like the linea nigra. Healthy eating is necessary, so load up with leafy greens, beans, lentils, beans, and fresh orange juice and focus on a folate-rich diet.

Cocoa butter can be of much help, too. It is stable fat and works wonders as a moisturizer that helps prevent and lighten linea nigra and diminish stretch marks.

There is another topical oil called Extrapone Nutgrass Root Extract that also helps lighten discolorations. This can be found in most health food specialty stores. But like any medications (topical or oral) during pregnancy, it’s best to ask your doctor first before trying it.

You can also use a natural, homemade scrub by mixing lemon, honey, and sugar and applying it to the dark line for about 15 minutes. Rinse. Make it a part of your daily skin regimen and you will see positive results in a few months.

Finally, a good night’s sleep greatly helps in regenerating your cells.

If you’re still bothered by how your belly looks after giving birth, consult a dermatologist so she can prescribe you with the right medication. Avoid self-medicating, because some topical creams might not be safe for your baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding.


What To Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff, Healthline

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