Belly - Dark Line

What is a linea nigra?

The medical term for it is “linea nigra” which means dark line. A linea nigra is a dark line running from your pubic bone and continues up the centre of your belly up until the beginning of your lower ribcage during pregnancy.

Your new black line is due to skin pigmentation during pregnancy and not a new stretch mark.

Remember that having a linea nigra is common in pregnancy. You will find plenty of pictures of pregnant women showing off their clear signs of pregnancy if you search on the internet. Be proud of your linea nigra!

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When does a linea nigra appear?

Normally the belly line appears a few months into pregnancy. The American Association of Pregnancy suggests that the dark line normally appears around the 5th month of pregnancy. However, some mothers report it appearing almost immediately as one of the early symptoms of pregnancy.

According to an old wives tale, it could predict the sex of your baby as a boy. Chinese gender predictions also say the sex of your baby is a boy if you have a dark line.

The pregnancy line should gradually disappear after giving birth, as your hormones settle down again.

Watch my short video where I explain about causes of your pregnancy belly line and how to care for skin changes during pregnancy.

What causes linea nigra during pregnancy?
  • Pregnancy hormones trigger an increase in melanocytes which in turn causes more melanin to be produced. Melanin is the pigmentation responsible for darkening our skin. Extra melanin causes the skin to darken in colour along this line. Other areas of the body can also be affected, such as your nipples or your face (see skin pigmentation).
  • Our faces are more prone to hyperpigmentation, causing the “Mask of Pregnancy” to appear in some women. To find out more about the mask of pregnancy, refer to skin pigmentation.
  • Why exactly a dark line appears on the belly is not known. It could be to do with the fact that the skin is most stretched from the abdomen to the lower rib cage, causing the darkening of the skin to be most visible in this area. Our pre-pregnancy bodies have a faint white line between the belly button and the pubic bone, referred to as the “linea alba”. We normally don’t normally notice the linea alba because it is so faint. Have a look to see if you can find your linea alba!
  • Your pregnancy line is different to a stretch mark as it is caused by changes to your skin pigmentation as opposed to deep skin changes caused by pulling and internal tearing – see Stretch Marks.
Will linea nigra disappear after pregnancy?

The dark line on your belly should gradually disappear postpartum, as your hormones settle down again. Take care to keep your skin well protected during pregnancy to avoid any longer term damage.

Tips for looking after your linea nigra

    • Ensure you keep your belly well oiled or moisturised (also beneficial for stretch marks and dry skin); take care of your skin during pregnancy.
    • Keep yourself well protected or covered up from the sun. Exposure to sun rays could possibly increase hyperpigmentation of your skin with possible longer term skin changes.
    • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your skin, especially your face from the sun.
    • Protect your skin during pregnancy with a good, high factor sunscreen lotion (suntan lotion). Always check the label and beware of the contents of your chosen lotion to avoid covering yourself in strong chemicals.

    Always consult a medical professional about any concerns. If your linea nigra does not fade away postpartum, ask a medical professional for advice. Do not use any bleaching creams during pregnancy.

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