Pregnancy is such an interesting time. It’s full of more changes than you ever imagined possible. While most of those changes are wonderful, some can be rather curious or even agitating. One of the more curious physical changes is the black line or “stripe” that runs down your belly toward the end of your pregnancy. What exactly is the black line? It’s technically called the Linea Nigra, and it’s a common pregnancy side effect. Rest assured, it has no bearing on the mama or pregnancy itself!
Linea Nigra: What You Need to Know
Linea Nigra is a long line, or “stripe,” of dark skin that runs from the belly button to the pubic bone. For some women, linea nigra extends up to the breast. It happens to approximately 75% of women. Though it is most often seen on burgeoning bumps, it can also be spotted on tiny ones too. Linea Nigra DOES go away eventually, but we’ve got some great facts on this wonder of pregnancy.
Why is it Called “Black Line?”
Depending upon skin tone, Linea Nigra shows up as all sorts of skin-altering colors, despite its name meaning “black line” in Latin. Linea Nigra was originally given the name to indicate what happens when the skin stretches and pigment changes during pregnancy. This terminology has been around for hundreds of years with as many old-wives tales on why it happens. The condition is the darkening of your linea alba, the “black line” of skin you’d probably never notice that runs between your belly button and your pelvis. The skin all over your body becomes hyper-pigmented, or darkened, during pregnancy. Though the Linea Nigra is likely to be more pronounced if you have darker skin, it can show up for any pregnant woman.
Does it Mean Something is Wrong?
Linea Nigra is merely an aesthetic mark or line and has absolutely nothing to do with pregnancy health indicators or those relating to your baby. Linea Nigra is a naturally occurring pregnancy phenomenon that is added to the laundry list of ways in which a body can change while growing another person. It’s a beautiful reminder that something exciting is on its way!
Can I Cover it Up?
Though you can’t prevent this pregnancy line from popping up, you can lessen its appearance if you decide to do so. You can also consider ways you can keep from making it worse! If you plan on going out in the sun, cover up or wear a safe sunscreen. Sun exposure can “intensify the skin-darkening effects of pregnancy,” so try to keep your belly out of the sun and use proper sunscreen with natural ingredients. You can also try to amp up the foods you consume with folic acid. Some research links pregnancy lines to insufficient amounts of folic acid, but medical experts still aren’t sure if this is true. As always in pregnancy, this should be front-of-mind anyways–don’t take more prenatal vitamins, but eat great foods with folic acid like asparagus, citrus fruits, and legumes.
When Will It Go Away?
If you aren’t a fan of your new pre-birth mark, take heart: Linea Nigra does fade and eventually goes away postpartum. Many women even say they were a bit saddened to see this line disappear. For these women, losing the line was a sad reminder that they were no longer pregnant and that phase of life was done, either for now or for the long haul. With all things considered, it’s like any other “battle scar” earned during pregnancy. It represents the amazing fact that as your body grows and changes, with it comes to a new and wonderful life: your baby!
Linea Nigra is nothing to be ashamed or scared of. As always if you have any health concerns when pregnant, reach out to your care team for support and continued guidance. Keep loving the skin you’re in, mamas—it’s doing amazing things!