What Is Linea Nigra? Will It Ever Go Away? - Baby Chick

What Is Linea Nigra? Will It Ever Go Away?

Learn when linea nigra, or the pregnancy line, appears, what causes it, and when you can expect it to go away.

Published January 10, 2024

by Joanna Schroyer

Registered Nurse

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Sublett

Board-Certified OB/GYN, FACOG, IBCLC
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Linea nigra, also called the pregnancy line, is derived from Latin and means “black line.” The dark line develops on a pregnant woman’s belly and is usually seen in the second trimester, roughly around 20 weeks of gestation. It happens to over 90% of pregnant women. According to dermatologists (skin doctors), women always have a line on their belly, but when they aren’t pregnant, the line is light and not noticeable. It is called the linea alba, or “white line” in Latin. The dark pregnant belly line goes vertically up the belly from the pubic area to the belly button and sometimes even up to the chest. It is also darker in women with darker skin tones because they have more pigmentation or color in their skin tone compared to more fair-skinned ladies.1,2,3,4,5

When Does Linea Nigra Appear?

The black or dark line that runs vertically up and down a pregnant woman’s belly, called linea nigra or the pregnant belly line, is typically seen in the second trimester of pregnancy. It usually starts to show around 20 weeks or the fifth month of gestation and is about ¼- to ½-inch wide. This can be a little unnerving if this is your first pregnancy and you aren’t familiar with the pregnancy line. But the linea nigra is a normal part of pregnancy.1,2

What Causes Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra automatically happens when you’re pregnant due to the pregnancy hormones that increase the melanin production in the skin. Melanin is what gives skin and other areas of the body darker colors. For example, melanin is what makes freckles. It also makes the vaginal area on women, nipples, and the area around the nipples (areola) a darker color than the other skin. Darker skin areas are called hyperpigmentation of the skin. With pregnancy, these already darkened areas become even darker, starting in the first trimester. But the pregnancy line on the belly usually doesn’t show until the second trimester, around 20 weeks. Sometimes, it will get darker as your pregnancy progresses, which is normal, too. It can be fun to show other siblings where the new baby is! You just point to the line.1,2,3,5

Does Everyone Get Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra is such an ordinary part of being pregnant that over 90% of women get the pregnancy line.1 Some women don’t get the pregnancy line at all, or it might be there but be faint.2 Most women who get linea nigra during their first pregnancy will likely have the same experience with additional pregnancies.6

Other people than pregnant women can also develop linea nigra. It can happen to non-pregnant women, children, and men. It isn’t always known why this happens. Some people may have an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed (usually in men over 50 years). Others will have it as children, but as they become older, it fades away. Linea nigra can also appear in older children during puberty when they have increased hormone levels. It typically is considered a normal condition, but it’s worth a call to your provider just to be sure.1,2

Can You Prevent Getting a Pregnancy Line on Your Stomach?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. You cannot prevent or get rid of the pregnancy line. It shows up due to your pregnancy hormones, and there is no way to change that.2 Some women feel it looks unattractive on their beautiful pregnant belly. They have even tried to bleach the pregnancy line, against the doctor’s advice, but with unsuccessful results.

Here are a few things that can help with linea nigra, but not necessarily take it away:1,2,4

  • Use sunscreen to prevent your linea nigra from getting even darker in the sun.
  • Applying pregnancy-safe makeup to the pregnancy line to help hide it can be an option that your doctor might allow.
  • Bleaching the area is not allowed until after you deliver the baby and if you are not breastfeeding. Discuss this with your doctor to be sure you wait for the appropriate amount of time after giving birth.
  • Folic acid might help decrease the darkness of the linea nigra, but it isn’t scientifically proven. Common foods with high folic acid levels are leafy green vegetables, whole wheat bread, oranges, and beans.

When Does Linea Nigra Go Away?

Linea nigra will fade on its own after you deliver the baby. It may take a few weeks or months for the line to disappear because it happens gradually as your hormones return to normal after pregnancy. There are some cases where the line fades but does not clear completely. Each woman is different. So, if you are concerned that it is taking too long or has not faded enough, discuss it with your provider. Typically, the doctor will tell you to let them know if the line hasn’t faded or disappeared three months after delivery.2,3,5

Embracing Your Changing Body

Your body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. Linea nigra is only one of them. And honestly, compared to the other changes, such as constant nausea and heartburn, your feet getting bigger, swelling pretty much everywhere, and your hair possibly falling out, linea nigra is the least of your worries.

It might be easier for some women to accept and adopt the body changes that come with pregnancy, including the pregnancy line. For others, it’s not so simple. But we should try to embrace our changing bodies during pregnancy. At the time, it can seem like pregnancy goes on forever, and you can’t wait until it’s over. When you look at the bigger picture, pregnancy is a tiny blip in the time frame of our lives. Try to enjoy as much of it as you can. Women are exceptional since we can carry a child and give birth to a brand-new life. It’s truly amazing!

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Joanna Schroyer Registered Nurse
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Joanna is a registered nurse with 29 years of experience and expertise in pediatrics, women's health, and public health. Read more

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