Mother and Baby

What is the Linea Nigra – the dark line on my pregnant belly?

Have you been wondering about that vertical dark line that casually appeared on your belly during pregnancy? What is it, how did it get there, and when will it go away? As far as pregnancy symptoms go, this dark line (a.k.a. the Linea Nigra (Latin for “dark line”) or “pregnancy line”) is one of the less bothersome ones compared to pregnancy sickness, heartburn, or swollen and achy feet – you can’t feel it and it’s not something to be worried about.

But if, like Cardi B, you’re eager to get into a bikini ASAP post-partum, you could be wondering when it will go away.

“Ladies how do you guys get rid of the black line in the middle of your stomach after giving birth?? cause b****” – Cardi B

Linea Nigra - Frequently Asked Questions

From what causes it and how long it takes to go away, to if there is anything you can do to make it fade faster, here’s everything you need to know about the Linea Nigra.

What is that dark line on my pregnant belly?

Although rare, the Linea Nigra can appear on both men and women at various points in life, not just pregnancy. During pregnancy, however, the placenta starts to make an array of hormones and one such hormone, the melanin-stimulating hormone called melanocyte, starts to make certain body parts (such as nipples, melasma (a.k.a. the pregnancy face mask), and the Linea Nigra) visibly darker. This dark line usually starts from the belly button all the way down to the groin, but some women can get it spanning from the groin all the way up to the breastbone. The Linea Nigra is normally less than 1cm wide and can be various shades of brown.

When does the Linea Nigra start to make an appearance?

The Linea Nigra most often appears around the fifth month of pregnancy, although it can be earlier or later. Fun fact: this line is actually present on all humans and is called the Linea Alba (Latin for “white line”). This line is described as “the tendinous median line on the anterior abdominal wall between the two rectus muscles.” Even though the line is always there, unless you’re pregnant and have all those melanin-forming hormones surging through you, the line is so faint that you can’t tell it’s there unless you’re actively looking for it.

Does the Linea Nigra serve a purpose?

Technically, no, but there are a few old wives’ tales on the matter. One says that, because our babies are blind as bats when they’re born and can only really tell light and dark, mother nature makes certain parts of us darker, such as nipples and the Linea Nigra, so that our baby can find their way around our body easier. Isn’t that just adorable? Another fable is that the location of the line on your belly can serve as a gender predictor. Apparently, if the Linea Nigra is just below your belly button, you're expecting a girl, but if it goes anywhere above your belly button, then you’re having a boy.

Is the Linea Nigra permanent?

The Linea Nigra is not permanent and is something that will fade totally on its own even if you don’t take any steps to correct it sooner. Although you might not like the look of it, this dark line is not something to worry about as it poses no danger to you or your unborn child.

 
Is the Linea Nigra a stretch mark?

No, the Linea Nigra cannot be classed as a stretch mark. A stretch mark is literally the distention of the skin caused by overstretching. Stretch marks affect the dermis (middle) layer of the skin and leave an embossed or indented visible scar on the surface of the skin. The Linea Nigra only affects the epidermis – the top layer of your skin, and so is comparable to a tan rather than a stretch mark, and can fade on its own without a trace, whereas a stretch mark is permanent.

How long does it take the Linea Nigra to fade?

This line might hang about for quite a few months after you have your baby but is commonly faded within the first few months post-partum, and completely gone within a year.

Is it guaranteed that I will get a Linea Nigra if I fall pregnant?

While Linea Nigra during pregnancy is very common, there is still a small percentage of women that won’t get it, so you might fall into that category. However, the more melanin you have in your body, the likelier it is that you will get a Linea Nigra during your pregnancy.

Is there any way to prevent a Linea Nigra?

There is nothing you can do to prevent a Linea Nigra, and there is no way of knowing if you will get one or not. In order not to make it more visible, however, keep your bump out of the sun and make sure you eat your greens and take your folic acid so as to avoid hyperpigmentation.

How can I make my Linea Nigra fade faster?

It might seem like it’s taking a while, but the Linea Nigra will definitely fade before you know it. If you are still concerned and want to try to eliminate the line sooner, once your baby is born, you can see a dermatologist and see what skin-lightening treatments are available, but harsh methods such as laser or bleaching creams are typically advised against if you’re still breastfeeding. At home, you could try rubbing lemon juice on the line and gently scrubbing the area with a scrub or loofah while you’re in the shower.

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