Pregnancy can be so exciting – there’s nothing that compares to growing a little human inside of you. However, it sure isn’t all smooth sailing. From all the wonderful pregnancy symptoms, such as heartburn or morning sickness, to sore back or swollen ankles, it can be a pretty tough time.
And then some women, me included, get this weird dark pregnancy line on their tummy: what’s up with that?
I often saw it on some pregnant women at the beach before I was pregnant myself, and never thought much of it. But when I got pregnant and it actually appeared on my belly, I was totally fascinated by it (and a bit upset to be honest, didn’t like it at all!).
So what is this pregnancy line on stomach? Why does it appear on some pregnant women and not others? Will it ever go away? How do your prevent it or get rid of it?
Well, it is actually called Linea Nigra (Latin words that mean “black line”), or simply Pregnancy Line, and I have tried to answer all of the most common questions about it in this article.
Why do you get a Line on your Stomach when Pregnant?
Let’s me start by explaining exactly what is this strange dark line on your pregnant belly and why some women get it.
First of all, believe it or not, we all have that line on our stomach, even before pregnancy. It was just never really visible before. This line is called Linea Alba (Latin words for “white line”).
However, what some women experience when pregnant is a form of hyperpigmentation of that line (Linea Nigra), which runs vertically from the belly button down to your pubic area. Sometimes it can even extend above the belly button.
This is due to the high levels of pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and progesterone – those nice friends that caused all your other weird early pregnancy symptoms as well. These hormones stimulate some cells in your skin, causing them to produce more melanin, the pigment that makes your skin darker. However, it is not understood why only cells in some parts of the body, such as your belly, become darker and not others.
It’s also interesting to know that it doesn’t always appear if you do have multiple pregnancies. While if you had it with your first pregnancy, you are likely to have it again, it doesn’t always happen. If it does appear again, it might show earlier or later in pregnancy compared to the previous time, or even lighter or darker. You never know!
Does everyone get a Pregnancy Line?
Not really, but it’s way more common than what you probably think. In fact, the linea nigra occurs in more than 90% of pregnant women and is often associated with hyperpigmentation of other parts of your body as well, such as your nipples, your genital areas, or your face.
This phenomenon is most common and noticeable in pregnant women with dark skin or hair, so if you of Scandinavian origins you might be in luck. But if you are of Italian origins like me, you have a good chance of getting it.
And do not worry if your linea nigra is not straight! It can actually look different from women to women and it’s simply due to how the pigmentation has formed on your skin.
When does the Linea Nigra appear?
The is no set rule as to when this dark line on your stomach will appear when pregnant. While it typically starts showing around the 5th month of pregnancy, when the pregnancy hormone levels become quite high, it can also appear as early as 5 or 6 weeks.
So, if you notice an early pregnancy line on your stomach at 5 weeks, it’s probably it already.
In some cases, it also starts as a faint line, and then becomes darker and darker as your pregnancy progresses. This is exactly what happened with me: it was hardly visible when I was about 4 months pregnant, but slowly became more and more noticeable.
Does the Linea Nigra go away after Pregnancy?
If you are worried that the pregnancy line will never go away, try and relax. It will usually go away a few weeks (months maxiumum) after birth. However, in some women it may never disappear completely.
If you are one of those ‘lucky’ women whose linea nigra is still on their stomach months after giving birth and you want to want to get rid of it, I’ve gathered some tips on how to do it below here.
How do you get rid of the Linea Nigra?
If you hate the black like on your stomach during pregnancy, I am sorry to say there’s nothing that you can do about it until after birth really. In particular, make sure not to apply any whitening cream or other products on your skin that may be harmful to your baby! Take comfort in knowing that the linea nigra isn’t harmful to you or your baby, so you don’t need any treatment.
That said, there may come a time after you’ve given birth when you want it to finally disappear if it’s still there. If so, here’s some things that you can try to get rid of the linea nigra.
1) Bleaching Cream
A bleaching cream like the one below can be used after you’ve given birth if you are not breastfeeding, or once you’ve stopped breastfeeding, so that you don’t risk passing any harmful substances to your kid via the breast milk.
2) Lemon Juice
This is more of a natural approach that is often recommended. It consists in applying some lemon juice on your belly and rubbing it in a couple or more times a day over the affected area.
The citric acid in the lemon will help lighten up the area. But best if you dilute the lemon juice with some water, otherwise it can cause skin irritation and burn on your skin.
You can also try a lemon sugar body scrub to exfoliate the skin.
3) Apple Cider Vinegar
Another thing that you can try is apple cider vinegar. ACV speeds up the process of skin regeneration: it helps to shed darkened skin faster, giving way for fresh and brighter skin.
This is also all natural like the lemon juice, so not dangerous at all, and you apply it the same way: dilute it with some water and apply it to the dark line on your belly. Wait for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
4) Tumeric Milk
Turmeric helps protect the skin from UV damage and you can also use it to reduce the appearance of your linea nigra. Milk, on the other hand, nourishes your skin and contains lactic acid, a mild exfoliant. The combination is excellent for smoother and lighter skin.
According to be skinformed, you should make a paste of tumeric and milk, then apply it to the dark area and leave it for 10-20 minutes before rinsing it off. Do this 2-3 times a week.
5) Vitamin E Oil
Vitamin E oil lightens your skin by helping it to regenerate new (and lighter) skin cells. Rub vitamin E oil on your belly every day and expect the pregnancy line to fade in a few weeks.
As a final note: always consult with your doctor before using any product on your skin if you are either still pregnant or breastfeeding!
How do you prevent the Linea Nigra?
Now, is there a way to actually prevent that dark pregnancy line on your stomach from appearing at all? Yes and no … Like I mentioned above, we all have a line on our belly called ‘linea alba’ even when we are not pregnant, and if this is destined to become a linea nigra when expecting, you can’t stop it.
However, there are some things that you can do to avoid it becoming too dark or too pronounced. If it really bothers you though, you can also try concealing it with makeup until it fades after birth.
1) Use Sun Protection
The UV rays from the sun intensify the hyperpigmentation, making the linea nigra even darker. Have you ever got some darker patches on your skin when you get a tan? It’s the same thing.
If you are pregnant during summer and spending lots of time at the beach in your swimsuit, make sure to use to apply lots of sunscreen. Best if it’s a high-factor (SPF 30 or more) sunscreen, also because pregnancy hormones cause your skin to be extra sensitive to sunburns.
Because anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream and can reach your baby, it’s best to use sunscreen with natural and mineral-based ingredients, instead of harsh chemicals, such as the Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen.
2) Don’t Wax
Waxing your belly can cause skin inflammation, and any form of skin irritation will make the linea nigra even darker. So hold off with that until you’ve had the baby!
3) Use Hypoallergenic Skin Care Products
Using creams or other skin products that can irritate your belly, similarly to the wax, can also darken your pregnancy line. For this reason, I would recommend use use hypoallergenic skin care products for the time being.
4) Increase your Folic Acid Intake
It has also been suggested that folic acid reduces the formation of linea nigra. Folic acid can be found in foods such as leafy green vegetables (i.e. spinach), oranges, grapefruit and whole wheat bread.
So, you could try eat plenty of these folate-rich foods, or make sure to take prenatal vitamins. These usually have more than enough folic acid for mom and baby to help with a healthy development of the foetus, and should definitely be part of your pregnancy survival kit.
I personally took the Elevit prenatal vitamins, both when pregnant and when breastfeeding, but you can find different options at a pharmacy.
Is it Gender Related?
There is an old wives tale (amongst other pregnancy myths) according to which the look of your line nigra indicates whether you are expecting a boy or a girl. If it only runs up to your belly button, then you’re having a girl, but if it keeps going all the way to your ribs then you’re expecting a boy.
That said, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support this as you can imagine! And I had a linea nigra going past my belly button but still had a girl 🙂
- 7 Baby Girl Symptoms during Early Pregnancy (from 1st Trimester!)
- 7 Baby Boy Symptoms during Early Pregnancy (From 1st Trimester!)
- 7 Pregnancy Myths we all Believed at Some Point
Pregnancy Line on Stomach: Final Thoughts
There you go mom-to-be, here’s everything you need to know about that dark line on your belly when pregnant. I hope I have answered all of your questions!
Just to summarize, there’s nothing to worry about when you see that line appear on your tummy. It’s completely normal and all going well it will disappear within a few weeks after birth. If not, feel free to try any of the tips on how to remove it listed above.
For for tips and information on how to survive pregnancy, also check out these related articles:
- Pregnancy Survival Kit (30+ Essentials for Mom & Dad)
- 8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During Pregnancy
- 20+ Summer Pregnancy Tips (to Survive the Heat!)
- 20+ Fun & Creative Things to do while Pregnant
- Best Pregnancy & Antenatal Exercises safe for all Trimesters (and for easier labor!)
- 20+ Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy (and Tips on how to prevent it)
And did you take a birthing class or a breastfeeding class already? These are a must to get ready for birth and breastfeeding postpartum!
- 20 of the Best Online Birthing Classes (to prepare for and overcome your fears of birth)
- 20+ Best Online Breastfeeding Courses of 2021 (FREE Classes too!)
Are you expecting a baby and have a linea nigra? Do you have any more questions that I haven’t answered above? Or did you have it when pregnant and have more tips to share on how to prevent it or get rid of it? Then please let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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