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Linea nigra: What you need to know

What's a linea nigra? Everything you need to know about that pregnant belly line

It will come as no surprise that your body undergoes some epic changes during pregnancy. As bub grows, hair sprouts from unassuming places, internal organs shift and some women’s vaginas even change to a blue or purple hue. You may also develop a line right down your stomach – a lazy attempt at an ‘X marks the spot’. Here’s the rundown on what said line is, and what causes it.

First up, what is it?

The linea nigra is the name given to the dark line that can run vertically down the middle of your pregnant bump. So, where did it come from? There is a natural, and usually unnoticed, fibrous line running down the middle of your stomach where the connective tissue of your abdominal muscles meet, called the linea alba or ‘white line’. During pregnancy this line can darken, and is known as the linea nigra – Latin for ‘black line’.

What causes it?

So, what’s to blame for your new stripe? Hormonal changes during pregnancy can change your skin tone and colour and are responsible for the appearance of the linea nigra. Skin pigmentation affects many pregnant women. This can cause not only the linea nigra, but changes in skin colouration around the nipples, on the face and labia. Women with a naturally darker skin tone are more likely to develop the linea nigra, while pale skin tones may have a light line, or none at all.

READ MORE: Common aches and pains and what they mean

Will it impact my baby?

No. The linea nigra is simply a change in pigment on your skin, and does not affect the baby whatsoever.

When does it go away?

Whether you love your linea nigra or not, it won’t stick around forever. It’s different for everyone, but you can expect the line to fade within a couple of months after birth.

Can I prevent it from developing or treat it?

There is no reason to prevent or ‘treat’ linea nigra. It’s a perfectly normal and beautiful part of pregnancy, and even if you wanted to, nothing has been proven to work.  

If you’re going to try anything, keep it natural. Vitamin E, cocoa butter and natural, gentle exfoliants are all rumoured to help, and regardless are still good for your skin! And if your bump is out in the sun, remember to use a good sunscreen  – it will prevent sun damage, and stop the line from darkening. Keep in mind that the linea nigra is temporary and you may never experience it again. Big or small, light or dark, be proud of your linea nigra!

READ MORE: What happens if I need to be induced?

Wives’ tales

From carrying your bump high or low, to what you’re craving or whether your hair gets thicker, there are plenty of wives’ tales about predicting the gender of your baby. Some people believe that the linea nigra holds the truth. If your linea nigra extends past your navel towards your breasts, you’re having a boy, and if it extends from your navel downwards to your pubic bone you’re having a girl. And just like all the other wives’ tales, the linea nigra is an accurate indicator about half of the time!

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