Linea Nigra: What You Need to Know

pregnant mom holding bump

Skin changes are a pretty universal experience during pregnancy. Whether it is the darkening of the areolas, stretch marks, melasma, or the linea nigra, most pregnant individuals experience at least one of these changes. The linea nigra often appears around five months of pregnancy, but what causes it, and what is it for?

What Causes Skin Changes During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, hormones are at an all-time high. These hormones do many things in the body, but one thing they do is increase melanin. The linea nigra is a dark line down the center of the stomach, passing through the belly button or starting at the belly button. Nothing can be done to avoid getting the linea nigra or increase the likelihood of getting it. The occurrence of this skin change depends on each individual and how their hormone influx impacts their body.

How Long Does Linea Nigra Last?

Like many other changes to the skin in pregnancy, linea nigras often go away within a few weeks of birth, but there are times when it is never wholly gone. Whether it sticks around or leaves shortly after pregnancy, it is something to celebrate as it comes from creating and growing your baby. 

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Old Wives Tale: Fact or Fiction?

The linea nigra has an old wife's tale behind it. For a long time, it has been said that if the linea nigra runs only below your belly button, you are having a girl, and if it runs above your belly button, you are having a boy. Even though this was an old wife’s tale, it was true for me!

There is some speculation that the linea nigra appears to help guide the newborn to areolas, which also usually darken, to help them with nursing. This theory makes sense, incredibly, if you have researched the “breast crawl,” which newborns can do right after birth. If left alone on the birthing parent’s belly, a newborn will use their legs to push themselves to the breast/chest to nurse. If the linea nigra theory is correct, the baby will utilize this line to lead them to their food source.


So, whether you get a linea nigra or never see one appear, this information can be helpful to know. Just because you got the linea nigra in your first pregnancy does not mean you will get it every pregnancy. Sometimes it is lighter or does not appear at all. The same goes for if you did not get it in previous pregnancies. It could appear in your most recent one or get darker and more prominent with each subsequent pregnancy. Embracing these changes in our bodies during pregnancy is a great way to find body acceptance and neutrality, especially for changes you cannot control.

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