This dark line smack dab in the middle of my belly is not at all attractive, most mums-to-be think. What causes this pregnancy line? Does everyone have it? Will it ever disappear? What is it for, really? Here’s what you need to know about linea nigra in pregnancy.
What is Linea Nigra?
Pregnancy brings joy and a different kind of high, along with all the (sometimes) unexpected changes to your body.
Weight gain, darkened skin, stretch marks, unwanted hair on parts of your body, morning sickness, and then this: a dark line that appears from your belly button, running down vertically to your pubic area. Oh, please no. But it’s there, and there’s no turning back.
This pregnancy line is the linea nigra.
You may not have noticed it before, but it has always been there; however, it is very light. In fact, before pregnancy, it is called “linea alba” or white line.
As your baby bump gets bigger, the linea nigra becomes more pronounced and visible, especially during the second trimester of pregnancy. The term literally means “black line” in Latin.
You always have a linea nigra, but it was not noticeable until you become pregnant and your hormones increase. Most people’s linea nigra darkens sufficiently to become noticeable in the 20 weeks).
The linea alba, or “white line,” is a fainter and lighter form of it that appears before pregnancy where the left and right sides of your abdominal muscles converge. It is referred to as linea nigra when the line becomes dark and noticeable while you are pregnant.
Myth About the Linea Nigra
You may have heard somebody say that your linea nigra can tell you the sex of your baby. They believe that if the line runs to your belly button, you’re having a girl, and if it keeps going all the way to your ribs, then you’re going to have a boy. Some say that if the line is dark and pronounced, it signifies that you’re having a boy.
However, these are all just myths and there is no scientific evidence to back these claims.
There is no way to tell if someone is pregnant by looking at their linea nigra. Despite being more prevalent in expectant women, it is also observed in a sizable portion of girls, boys, men, and women who are not expecting.
Does Everyone’s Pregnancy Belly Get Linea Nigra?
Even though the linea nigra line is frequent, not all expectant mothers will have it. In reality, it’s impossible to predict in advance if you’ll experience this throughout pregnancy.
There’s no definite explanation for why some people receive it and others don’t. Having more pigment-producing cells may, of course, make you more susceptible to it, but this is by no means a given. Linea nigra is likely to recur in later pregnancies if it does so once.
What Causes Brown Line in Pregnancy Belly?
So what is it about pregnancy that makes this belly line darker? In a word, hormones. Your body produces more progesterone and estrogen to aid in the development of your unborn child, and these hormones also cause your skin to produce more melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colour.
Hyperpigmentation is one of the drawbacks of pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones oestrogen and progesterone stimulate cells called melanocytes in your skin, which causes them to produce more melanin, the pigment responsible for tanning and darkening your skin.
That is what causes the line to become darker, and you might also notice a change in the skin tone of your face or nipples.
And when that line gets even darker as your belly gets bigger, mums get more frustrated and worried that it will forever be there.
Will the Linea Nigra Ever Fade Away?
There is no way to keep the linea nigra from becoming darker as your pregnancy progresses, but by staying covered and away from the sun, you should be fine, according to the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff.
Just give it time, I say. It should naturally fade away or lighten a short while after giving birth. After delivery, hormone levels are bound to return to their original levels gradually, and the colour of that dark line will slowly, but rather surely, become less obvious.
When you give birth, the line will disappear. As hormone levels recover to pre-pregnancy levels in the first few months after delivery, the great majority of women will notice it fading. Each lady has a little different timing. Most ladies simply become aware that it is no longer there at some time without even paying it any attention.
For some it takes three months, for others, it takes about a year. If you have a darker complexion, it might take a bit longer because the linea nigra is darker. Then when you get pregnant again, expect that line to make a comeback.
However, in her book, Murkoff also explains that the linea nigra tends to be lighter in succeeding pregnancies. Some don’t even have it the second or third time around.
Can I Avoid Getting Brown Line on Pregnancy Belly?
Image Source: iStock
No, you cannot prevent the pregnancy line because it is related to hormone levels. However, there are things you can do to reduce melasma, and they might also help reduce the linea nigra:
Pigment alterations are accelerated by ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. Even when it’s not sunny outside, wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more every day. If you’re outside during the day, reapply frequently.
Even if you have dark complexion, this is true. Even though lighter skin doesn’t burn as quickly and dark skin has more melanin (pigment), neither factor is sufficient to shield you from UV radiation.
When you use wax to remove hair, especially on parts of your body where pigmentation changes are present, you run the risk of aggravating melasma skin irritation.
Use skincare products that are hypoallergenic.
Melasma may become worse if you use cleansers and face creams that irritate your skin.
What Happens To Linea Nigra After Pregnancy?
The linea nigra should start to disappear shortly after your baby is born. But in some women, it might never really go away. And be prepared for that line to resurface if you become pregnant again.
If you are breastfeeding or spending a lot of time in the sun, it can go away more slowly. Additionally, if you have dark skin, it can take longer because of the extra melanin that dark-skinned people have, which makes them more prone to hyperpigmentation.
In a few uncommon cases, the linea nigra does not disappear after pregnancy. Consider it a great memento of the time you carried another human being inside your body if this is the case for you.
Some Ways to Manage the Linea Nigra
If the linea nigra’s look concerns you, try the following suggestions to make it appear less prominent:
According to some research, folate can help lighten skin discolourations like the linea nigra. Healthy eating is necessary, so load up with leafy greens, beans, lentils, and fresh orange juice, and focus on a folate-rich diet. A folic acid-rich, healthy pregnancy diet can reduce (but not entirely eradicate) the appearance of the linea nigra.
Folic acid should be present in your prenatal vitamin, but it is also present in leafy greens, oranges, whole wheat bread, and cereals. Even if you’re following this pregnancy line, getting enough folic acid is still vital for both your health and the growth of your unborn child.
Too much exposure to the sun during pregnancy can worsen skin darkening. Use pregnancy-safe sunscreen or cover your tummy with clothing when you’re outside. Avoid peak UV hours, stay in the shade, or cover up with a tent or an umbrella (between 10 am and 4 pm).
You can powder the region to temporarily conceal the linea nigra. If the line really bothers you when you’re pregnant, consider hiding it with makeup until it goes away.
Image Source: iStock
Dabbing olive oil, 100% Vitamin E oil, and Vitamin E-rich cream, butter or lotion on the line helps lighten it. Keep it moist all the time to prevent further discolouration.
Cocoa butter can be of much help, too. It is a stable fat and works wonders as a moisturiser that helps prevent and lighten linea nigra and diminish stretch marks.
Drinking enough water can also help keep your skin moist and avoid further darkening.
You can also use a natural, homemade scrub by mixing lemon, honey and sugar and applying it to the dark line for about 15 minutes. Rinse. Make it a part of your daily skin regimen and you will see positive results in a few months.
According to some ladies, lemon juice’s acidity on your skin can aid in minimising hyperpigmentation.
Finally, a good night’s sleep greatly helps in regenerating your cells.
What To Avoid
Never expose your linea nigra to skin-bleaching products, particularly those containing hydroquinone. Their safety for usage during pregnancy or breastfeeding has not been established. Even worse, it has been established that they pose risks like skin cancer, dark grey patches, and birth defects.
Linea Nigra: A Normal Part Of Pregnancy
The linea nigra is a completely cosmetic pregnancy side effect that shouldn’t cause you any concern. This brown line and other skin changes, like darkening of the cheeks and areolas, are likely to become apparent around the second trimester. However, this brown line may never fully emerge in certain women.
If it really bothers you, you can take steps to lessen it, including taking enough folic acid and staying out of the sun, or you can just cover it up. The linea nigra is harmless and will probably disappear soon after your baby is delivered. So for the time being, accept this pregnancy as a natural event and enjoy how your body is changing as you support a new life.
Image Source: iStock
Republished with permission from theAsianParent Philippines
Updates from Matt Doctor
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