Linea nigra: what you need to know

Linea nigra

Have you noticed a strange, dark line down the centre of your tummy? No, your beautiful baby belly isn’t about to burst at the seams – this pregnancy symptom is perfectly normal.

It’s called linea nigra, and it’s actually always been on your belly, though around week 23 of pregnancy it can become much darker – but there’s no need to worry, you’ve simply earned another pregnancy stripe.

What causes it?

You can thank those pregnancy hormones once again! The same hormones that make your areola darker and cause chloasma (the mask of pregnancy) also make the line on your belly darker.

An increase of oestrogen gets your body making extra melanin, which is the pigment responsible for making your skin darker.

Who gets it?

Linea nigra can happen to any pregnant woman, there’s no way to know who will or who won’t get the stripe. However, there are some things that are thought to play a role:

  • Exposure to the sun can make skin discolourations darker
  • Folate can help control skin discolourations (and you should already be taking this to help reduce the risk of spina bifida)
  • Women with darker skin usually have a more pronounced line
  • An old wives’ tale says that if the line runs from the pubic bone and ends at the belly button, it’s a girl. If it goes to the bottom of your rib cage, it’s a boy.

What mums say …

Of course, every mum is different, here’s what a few had to say about their linea nigra:

“17 months later I can still see it. Not nearly as dark though.” – Sara

“17 yrs later I still have it.” – Christine

“Such a defined line! After my kids my entire tummy was a dark brown colour for months also. And I am mostly pale.” – Faith

“Nope never got it with my three.” – Aimee

“Yes with my first pregnancy with my son. My second pregnancy with my daughter I had a faded line they didn’t really go past the belly button. Different both times and both times faded away over the months.” – Natalie

“Never got it with my twins and didn’t get it with current pregnancy.” – Karrin

How can I get rid of it?

The short answer is, you can’t! It should fade by itself after you’ve had your bub. If you want to speed up the processes, it’s thought keeping your belly out of the sun may help. And of course, keep up that folate by taking your pregnancy vitamins and eating plenty of things like leafy greens, beans and fresh orange juice.

Linea nigra is just another one of those freaky conditions that happen when you’re pregnant.