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What is Linea Nigra?

by Tasha Mayberry

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Pregnancy is a phase that does a lot of unforgettable things to your body – some phenomenal and some weird. From your belly starting to grow to feel movements from inside to your breasts getting big to linea nigra, there are numerous changes you will experience while your body prepares to bring your little bundle of joy into this world.

Wait, linea nigra? What is it? Is it something that all pregnant women get? When will it appear? How long will it last? What causes linea nigra?

We have the answers to all your questions!

What is Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra is the dark line that that appears on your abdomen, stretching from your belly button to your pubic area; for some women, the line goes all the way up to their breasts. It is also widely referred to as a pregnancy line, and linea nigra is a Latin term that translates to “black line”. Your pregnancy line doesn’t necessarily have to be “black”, it could also be in a shade of brown, on the darker side.

Do All Pregnant Women Get Linea Nigra?

Did you know that you always have a vertical line that runs down the midline of your abdomen? Probably not! This vertical line is called Linea Alba (translating to “white line” in Latin), and yes, this is a white line that is always there on your body but you never notice. During your pregnancy, linea nigra basically replaces this line and its dark colour makes it noticeable. Not all pregnant women get linea nigra, but is quite usual on those with dark skin; however, that is certainly not something to worry about.

When Will it Appear?

Linea nigra often appears during the second trimester and remains throughout the rest of the pregnancy, and as mentioned, it is very common on darker skin tones, and you might not notice one if you are pale. The line is typically around a centimeter in width.

How Long Does It Last?

Line nigra lasts throughout the pregnancy once it appears during the second trimester, and it generally disappears a few months after delivery.

What Causes Linea Nigra?

Hormones! Yes, the hormones that were responsible for your period-related symptoms, like mood swings, skin breakouts, etc., come back when you are pregnant, but only this time, they will last for a complete nine months.

In general, pregnancy hormones cause hyperpigmentation in women, a condition that causes the darkening of the skin. Many pregnant women would notice their areolas getting dark, and some might also find the skin of their face darkening due to this condition. And it is the same reason why your linea alba (white line) tends to darken, which becomes more pronounced in those of you with a darker skin tone.

It is also known that linea nigra gets darker as your pregnant belly grows, and the reason behind this is believed to be that it helps newborns to find their way to their mom’s breasts for nursing.

In fact, there is a widely held traditional belief that linea nigra can help predict the gender of the baby, which goes: if the line extends from your navel (belly button) towards your pubic area, then you are most likely to have a girl. On the other hand, if it goes upwards from your navel, towards your head, then you are most likely having a boy. Of course, these beliefs are not scientifically proven or have any strong evidence backing them up but can be taken as just a fun gender prediction game.

Is it Harmful?

Not at all! Though the sudden appearance of a dark line on your belly might be alarming at first, know that it is just a cosmetic change on your body and will not cause any harm to you or your little one. This is something that many women get during pregnancy and you don’t need any sort of treatment for it. Also, there is nothing you could do to prevent it from appearing as well. And, DO NOT use any type of cream to cover it up during pregnancy, as it can be harmful to your baby.

Can I Get Rid of Linea Nigra?

As mentioned earlier, linea nigra usually goes away a few months after delivery. However, if you wish to have it gone sooner, you could consult your dermatologist about using a cream of some sort to help get rid of it. Bleaching creams are the most recommended for this purpose; your dermatologist might suggest one you could use if you are formula-feeding. If you plan to breastfeed your baby, it is best to avoid using the cream. A natural alternative would be to apply lemon juice on the area, the acid content of which is known to help with hyperpigmentation.

Some other points you should know about linea nigra are: the dark line may not be completely straight for everyone and differs from one pregnant woman to another. Also, you may not get the line in all of your pregnancies; if you had experienced it during your first pregnancy, it doesn’t mean that you will get one in your second as well.

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