Pregnancy is a life (and body) changing experience – get ready to add one more body change to your list because today we’re talking about the “pregnancy line” known as linea nigra.
From the more un-liked symptoms like acne, stretch marks and swollen ankles to the nice pregnancy glow or a cute little bump, our bodies really go through it during pregnancy.
So, what is linea nigra?
Linea Nigra is a dark line that can stretch vertically from your navel to the beginning of your pelvic bone. If you’re over half way along in your pregnancy, you might start to notice a dark line that runs down your abdomen, between your belly button and your pubic area.
The line (which is usually between 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide) is very common in pregnancy and for some women, it runs higher than their belly button, toward their rib cage.
The line is never truly black, but it can get quite dark on some women.
For me personally, I started to see it at 2 months in my pregnancy.
Table Of Contents
All Your Linea Nigra Questions, Answered.
❓ Is linea nigra normal?
Although its true purpose is unknown, we believe the line is caused by an increased production of the pigment melanin during your pregnancy.
This might be caused by the placenta and the needs of your baby. The line is more commonly found in women who have darker skin pigmentation because the skin darkening is caused by melanin. But no one knows exactly why it happens.
Everyone has a linea alba (translates to white line) on the belly, naturally – if you don’t think you have one, you do! It’s just too light (or the same color of your skin) and you can’t see it. Well, in pregnancy, this line darkens and is then called the linea nigra (translates to black line).
You will also notice darkening of your areolas and maybe some dark spots on your face – this is all caused by the same hormones that make the linea nigra appear.
Once again I say, blame it on your pregnancy hormones ladies!
❓ When Does Linea Nigra Appear?
Usually around the second trimester, but it can happen earlier.
It differs from woman to woman (even pregnancy to pregnancy), but most of the time linea nigra will start to become noticeable around the beginning of your second trimester.
It’s an old wives’ tale that if the line stops at your belly button, you’re having a girl – and if it runs up past your belly button it will be a boy! (No science behind this, but wives’ tales are fun!)
❓ What Do I Do About Linea Nigra? (Will It Go Away?)
It may, and it may not go away after you give birth.
For some women, linea nigra may not go away after pregnancy. For some, it will lighten dramatically or disappear completely.
There is no way to tell ahead of time what will happen for you.
Each of us is different, and our bodies react differently to pregnancy. Don’t worry if your linea nigra is dark – or if it’s non-existent. Your body will undergo a million more changes before giving birth, so try not to worry about the line right now.
It’s a small (probably temporary) sacrifice to grow a baby in your womb!
❓ What Causes Linea Nigra?
Like I mentioned above, everyone has a linea alba – and for pregnant women, the line gets darker as your gestation progresses.
Well, large amounts of estrogen and progesterone stimulate cells called melanocytes in your skin, causing them to produce more melanin, which makes your skin darker in certain places.
❓ Is This Dangerous?
No – this “pregnancy line” is completely normal and not an indication of something wrong.
Some women are bothered by it during pregnancy.
There is absolutely no danger to you, or your baby, from this (or lack of one).
There are some things you can try if you want to reduce the color or size of the line.
Prenatal vitamins have more than enough folic acid to meet most women’s needs, so check with your doctor before adding more. You can also eat foods rich in folic acid, such as spinach and leafy greens.
Don’t worry if you are eating a healthy diet, and you still get linea nigra – it’s a normal part of pregnancy.
❓ Can I Cover This Up?
If you’re trying to limit the formation of a linea nigra, there are some things you can try:
- Be sure to use sunscreen or keep your belly covered when you’re in direct sun. Just like suntan can darken skin freckles, sun rays can darken linea nigra.
Some women prefer not to use sunscreen while they are pregnant, so covering up while at the beach might be a better option for you.
- You could also try to cover it some with makeup. Some women find foundation and powder can decrease the appearance of a line.
- Eat well! Some doctors believe the linea nigra might be related to your folic acid intake or insulin levels. Although this has not been proven, some women increase their intake of folic acid to try to reduce the formation of linea nigra.
Chances are that it will get lighter, or possibly go away completely, after you give birth and your hormones return to pre-birth levels.
❓ Is There a Purpose for the Linea Nigra?
Actually, you might find this theory interesting…
It’s talked about that this dark line could be acting as a guide for your newborn to find it’s way to your breasts (where your areolas are also darker than normal). Since newborns can see darker colors and higher contrasts easier, this kind of makes sense!
The actual “what it’s for” is not so much “proven” as there are a few theories surrounding it, and this is one of them!
If you’re worrying about your linea nigra,
try focusing on all the exciting things you need to get ready before the baby arrives…. soon!