CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

Linea Nigra: Here’s What’s Up With That Pregnant Belly Line

Don’t fret if a dark line suddenly appears along your belly during the second or third trimester. It’s totally normal and completely harmless.
save article
pregnant woman lying on couch showing linea nigra line on belly
Image: Getty Images
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

Pregnancy can come with some unusual body changes, like hair in places you didn’t expect, sudden indigestion, hemorrhoids and acne breakouts. But here is a lesser-known surprise to add to the growing list of pregnancy pleasantries: Linea nigra. This dark line that can develop down the center of your bump may catch you off guard. So what is linea nigra, when does it appear and what can you do—if anything—to make it go away? Here’s what you need to know about the pregnancy line on your stomach.

What Is Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra, which is Latin for “black line,” is a streak running from your belly button to your pubic region that may develop and darken during pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The length, width and color of this pregnant belly line varies from person to person.

Image: Getty Images (2)

Its appearance might make you do a double take, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. “Linea nigra is simply the increase in pigmentation of the skin,” says Julie Lamppa, APRN, a certified nurse-midwife at the Mayo Clinic and the author of Obstetricks. “Linea nigra can look slightly different on everyone,” and it may be more obvious if you have darker skin, says Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. People with darker skin have more melanocytes, which are pigment-producing cells, making them more prone to getting this line, explains Michael Cackovic, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

It’s important to emphasize that this dark line on your stomach isn’t something that will impact you or baby. “Pregnant women can be reassured that linea nigra isn’t harmful and has no adverse effect on pregnancy outcomes or the baby,” says Jessica Shepherd, MD, an ob-gyn and founder of Sanctum Med + Wellness in Dallas, Texas. It’s just one of those things that you may (or may not) have to deal with for a while.

Related Video

Does everyone get linea nigra?

While the linea nigra line is common, not every mom-to-be will get it. In fact, there’s no way to tell in advance if this is something you’ll develop during pregnancy. “We don’t know why some people get it and others don’t,” Greves says. Of course, having more pigment-producing cells may make you more prone to it, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. If you have linea nigra once, you’re probably going to have it in subsequent pregnancies too.

What Causes Linea Nigra?

Linea nigra is just one of the many skin changes that can happen during pregnancy. “Almost all pregnant women develop some type of hyperpigmentation in their skin in certain areas,” Cackovic says. For example, many pregnant women notice their areolas darkening or experience dark patches of skin that appear on the face, known as melasma. These melanocytes are likely stimulated by hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which surge in your body during pregnancy, Greves explains.

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive known way to avoid linea nigra. While you might not love the look of it, the important thing to remember is that it’s totally normal.

When Does Linea Nigra Appear?

This signature belly line can technically show up at any point in your pregnancy, but it will typically surface sometime in the second or third trimester, Lamppa says. Again, not everyone gets linea nigra. Either way, it’s no cause for stress.

What Is the Purpose of Linea Nigra?

While some physical changes that happen in pregnancy, like your breasts growing, have a biological purpose, experts say there’s no clear reason why your body would need to develop linea nigra. You can file this one under the many mysteries of pregnancy. “There’s no biological purpose for this,” Greves says.

Sorry to spoil your fun, but if you’ve heard an old wives’ tale that the length of your pregnant belly line will determine whether you’re having a boy or a girl, we’re here to debunk that myth. (It specifically claims that if the linea nigra starts below your belly button, you’re carrying a girl; if it extends above your navel, you’re supposedly having a boy.) While this is a fun guessing game to test out, Greves stresses that it’s not a legitimate way to determine baby’s sex.

When Does Linea Nigra Go Away?

If you’re wondering when the linea nigra will go away, you’ll have to be patient. There’s no clear-cut answer: The truth is, it depends. But in all likelihood, you’ll probably notice some changes in your skin soon after baby is born. “As hormonal levels start to decrease and stabilize, linea nigra should start to fade in the weeks and months after birth,” Lamppa says. Still, Cackovic adds that it can take up to a year or longer for linea nigra to fade in some people. What’s more, for others, this pregnancy line may never completely go away.

There are really no at-home remedies you can use to get rid of linea nigra during or after pregnancy. If it continues to linger after baby is born, consider seeing a dermatologist. Cackovic says they may recommend skin-lightening agents, chemical peels or laser and light therapies to try to get the line to fade. Another tip? Use a good SPF when your stomach is exposed. The sun’s UV rays can exacerbate patches of hyperpigmentation.

You may not be thrilled with the look of your pregnant belly line, but try not to focus on it, and be patient. “Remember that your body has amazingly grown a baby, and your body will never quite be the same—and that’s okay,” Lamppa says. The linea nigra is proof that you can do amazing things.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Michael Cackovic, MD, is a maternal-fetal medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He received his medical degree at the MCP Hahnemann University College of Medicine.

Christine Greves, MD, is an ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Florida. She received her medical degree from the University of South Florida.

Julie Lamppa, APRN, is a certified nurse-midwife at the Mayo Clinic and the author of Obstetricks. She earned her degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis.

Jessica Shepherd, MD, is an ob-gyn and founder of Sanctum Med + Wellness in Dallas, Texas. She received her medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Skin Conditions During Pregnancy, July 2022

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

pregnant woman sitting on couch with swollen feet
Tips for Soothing Swollen Feet and Legs During Pregnancy
By Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE
woman touching her chest in pain
Why You Might Be Having Chest Pain During Pregnancy (and What to Do)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman lying down on couch at home
What to Know About Cramps During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
close up of woman's hand on her stomach while lying down
When Does Implantation Occur?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman feeling her breast
When Does Breast Milk Come in?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Top 6 Annoying Pregnancy Skin Issues (and How to Deal)
Top 6 Annoying Pregnancy Skin Issues (and How to Deal)
By Elena Donovan Mauer
Tool: Kick Count Log
Tool: Kick Count Log
By The Bump Editors
ADVERTISEMENT
Iskra Lawrence shows off baby bump on the runway at the Cupshe show during the Paraiso Miami Swim Week at The Paraiso Tent on June 02, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida
Iskra Lawrence Shows Off Baby Bump on PARAISO Miami Swim Week Runway
By Wyndi Kappes
woman putting on compression socks
The 6 Best Compression Socks for Pregnancy, Tested by an Expectant Mom
By Erin Wisti
pregnant mom and daughter putting on makeup
The Best Pregnancy Safe Products on Sale During Amazon’s Beauty Haul
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
best belly bands-hero
8 Best Pregnancy Belly Bands to Support Your Bump
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
How to Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamins-hero
How to Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamins
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman putting lotion on face
15 Best Tested and Reviewed Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman applying stretch mark cream onto belly
10 Best Pregnancy Stretch Mark Creams and Oils, Tested by Moms-to-Be
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnancy-safe-acne-treatment-HERO
The Best Pregnancy-Safe Acne Treatments for Clearer Skin
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
close up of pregnant belly in bed
22 Empowering Affirmations to Recite During Pregnancy
By Nehal Aggarwal
woman using a heating pad on her stomach while laying in bed
Is It Safe to Use a Heating Pad While Pregnant?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Woman touching her stomach in pain.
Morning Sickness: What Causes It and How to Find Relief
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
non-alcoholic beer wine spirits pregnancy-hero
Best Non-Alcoholic and Alcohol-Free Drinks for Pregnancy and Beyond
By Christin Perry
pregnant woman applying sunscreen on the beach
The Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen for All Skin Types
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List