What is Linea Nigra?

Some women develop a dark line in the middle of their stomachs during prenancy. But whaty exactly is it and can it be avoided?

Pregnancy can bring about a multitude of symptoms and changes to the body that, for the most part, are reversible. From post partum hair loss, to stretch marks and uncontrollable food cravings, the list is vast and can also vary from one person to the other. But what exactly is the dark line that develops in the centre of the stomach that some people get during pregnancy?

What is linea nigra?

Registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife, Lesley Gilchrist, explains that:

Linea nigra [which literally means 'black line' in Latin] is the dark line that can develop down the centre of your bump as your pregnancy progresses. This line usually stretches from the top of the pubic hair to the belly button, although it sometimes extends to the breast too.

Gilchrist also explains that during pregnancy, oestrogen levels are significantly increased which can cause a person's melanin levels to boost as well which in turn causes the vertical line to form. Typically, when it does develop, the line is only about half an inch wide.

What should you know about linea nigra?

Since it is linked to hormone levels, linea nigra can occur to women who are not pregnant as well. But generally speaking, there should be nothing to worry about as it is a natural part of pregnancy, much like other common side effects such as, thicker hair growth, increased appetite etc.

As such, besides wearing sunscreen (as you should in with or without linea nigra) there are no ways of preventing this from happening. The midwife says that:

Linea nigra is a common side effect of pregnancy and won’t cause any harm to you or your baby. This line usually fades or disappears completely a few months after childbirth.

And adds that:

Avoid using bleaching products or creams on the linea nigra line during pregnancy or breastfeeding as this could be harmful to your baby,
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