In the second trimester, you might notice that there’s a dark, vertical line that runs down your tummy – from your navel to your pubic area. This is called the linea nigra (also spelled linea negra), and it’s a common pregnancy change when you’re expecting.
Linea nigra (which is literally “black line” in Latin) can run from just above your pubic bone, up through your navel, and it can be as high as your lowest rib. In most women, however, it stops right around your belly button. This dark line is typically only less than half an inch wide.
You have always had this line, but it’s never been noticeable since it was always so light. Before pregnancy, this line is called the linea alba (literally means “white line”). During pregnancy, this line becomes darker, due to an increase in the skin pigment melanin. For most women, the linea nigra starts to appear in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy.
The increase in melanin is also responsible for skin darkening in other places of your body too, including the infamous mask of pregnancy (chloasma) and the darkening of the areolas (the areas around your nipples).
The linea nigra is typically more of a problem for darker skinned women.
When Does the Linea Nigra Disappear?
In many parts of the world, the linea nigra is proudly displayed and shown as a badge of your impending motherhood. If you’re self-conscious about this dark line, don’t fret. You’re not the only one who doesn’t like this skin change in pregnancy.
Fortunately, the linea nigra should fade and start to disappear after you give birth. The levels of melanin go back to normal after delivery. (In some women, however, the line will fade but it never completely disappears.)
How to Cope with the Linea Nigra
There’s nothing you can do to prevent the linea nigra. It is a pregnancy change that may occur. However, you can minimize the darkening by avoiding exposing your tummy to sunlight. (This can darken it even more). Use make-up to conceal it if the dark line bothers you.