Are you pregnant?
Have you noticed a dark vertical line between your navel and pubic area?
That’s your linea nigra.
It has actually always been there as a fibrous band that runs vertically along your abdomen; it just gets a lot darker when you are pregnant.
Pregnancy is an amazing and sometimes scary period, and let’s not forget the roller coaster of emotions! When we talk about the changes that come with pregnancy, we are not just talking about the baby bump. Your skin too will undergo changes, one of which is the linea nigra which may seem to appear overnight.
Don’t worry, this is completely normal and it happens to most pregnant women. However, it can be lighter on some and darker on others.
As usual, in this article, you’d find out all you need to know about this strange but interesting line.
Table of contents:
What Causes Linea Nigra?
Once again, the hormones are responsible.
Oh yes, we know you consider these hormones to be the ultimate culprit of every weird thing that happens to you; from unexplained mood swings to that pimple that comes out of nowhere. Pregnancy is no different, and your hormones will be at it for nine long months.
Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy cause your body to produce more melanin which is responsible for pigmentation. This extra pigmentation thus makes the linea nigra appear darker.
In fact, your skin may become hyperpigmented or darkened during pregnancy. Apart from your linea nigra, you may notice darkening on your forehead, cheeks, and areolas.
You may even notice dark lines around your vagina too.
When Does Linea Nigra Appear?
It usually appears during the second trimester (between the 13th and 27th week) and remains throughout pregnancy.
The linea nigra is typically about 1cm wide and runs from your pubic bone up to your belly button. At times, it might even extend all the way up to the lower parts of your breasts.
Is Linea Nigra Dangerous?
Although this weird line may appear unsettling, it not a cause for alarm. 75% of women will experience this skin darkening during pregnancy.
When Will It Go Away?
Your ‘weird dark line’ will disappear just the same way it appeared.
The linea nigra usually resolves by itself few months after delivery. It is advisable to AVOID treating it with bleaching creams, especially if you are breastfeeding. These creams often contain hydroquinone, which may not be safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Just leave it alone, it will go away on its own.
What Can I Do About It While Pregnant?
There is really nothing much you can do about your linea nigra while pregnant. However, here are a couple of things you can do to make it less pronounced:
- Cover up: Your skin is already hyperpigmented, there’s no need to make it darker by exposing it to sunlight. Cover up your belly as much as possible and avoid getting a tan. This will only intensify the discoloration.
- Use Sunscreen: This is always recommended, whether or not you are pregnant. Ensure you use sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to protect your skin from excess sunlight. Thankfully, we’ve created a list of pregnancy safe sunscreens to help you.
- Eat well: This is very important not only for a healthy skin, but also for a healthy pregnancy. Ensure you stick to a healthy diet that is especially rich in folate. This is because folic acid deficiency could also cause hyperpigmentation. So eat up your green leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and do not forget to take all your prenatal vitamins. Here are some healthy food options for you during pregnancy.
Can I Use The Linea Nigra To Predict The Sex of My Baby?
You might have heard the superstition about the linea nigra and its ability to predict the child’s sex.
Apparently, some people believe you are more likely to have a girl if your line extends from your navel downwards to your pubic bone. On the other hand, if the line extends upwards from your navel towards your head, it’s going to be a boy.
However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
Can I Prevent Linea Nigra During Pregnancy?
Well, unfortunately, there is only so much you can do to prevent your linea nigra from appearing during pregnancy. However, the only thing we can suggest to prevent or minimize its appearance is to avoid sun exposure as much as possible and do not forget to use sunscreen.
How to Get Rid of Linea Nigra after Pregnancy
Your linea nigra will go away on its own.
Nevertheless, in a hurry to get rid of it, some people use bleaching or fading creams, or topical retinol. However, using bleaching creams when pregnant or breastfeeding is not advised. We recommend you try a more natural approach instead, like applying lemon juice to your skin. This has been reported to help fade the hyper pigmentation.
Even without any additional efforts, the linea nigra will fade away all on its own a few months after you give birth. So get used to it mama, it’s a sign to show how amazing your body is.
Be proud of it!
- Okeke, Linus Ikechukwu; George, Adekunle Olufemi; Ogunbiyi, Adebola Olufunmilayo; Wachtel, Mitchelle (November 2012). “Prevalence of linea nigra in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate carcinoma”. International Journal of Dermatology. 51: 41–43. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05564.x. ISSN 0011-9059. PMID 23210957.
- Johnson, Robert V. (Ed.). (1994). Mayo Clinic complete book of pregnancy & baby’s first year. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
- Cunningham, F. Gary, Leveno, Kenneth J., et al (2005). Maternal Physiology in Williams Obstetrics 22nd edition (126). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.