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Linea nigra: What to know about the pregnancy line

By now, you might have noticed a dark line running right smack down the middle of your growing bump. 

Rest assured, mom-to-be: That line on your beautiful bump is normal. It even has a name: It's called linea nigra—also known as the pregnancy line. 

That lovely line defined

Here's a surprising tidbit: The line may have been there on your belly prior to your pregnancy. It would have been a subtle, light-colored line that blended in with the rest of your skin. This line is called linea alba. 

Once you're pregnant, linea alba darkens to become linea nigra, usually around the fifth month of pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association reports.

Linea nigra is easy to spot. Just look for a narrow (up to about a half inch) vertical line running from your belly button to your pubic area. The longer you're pregnant, the darker it may get. 

Why the line?

Simply put, linea nigra is caused by extra skin pigment. Why your skin has more pigment during pregnancy is a bit of a mystery. Like so many other pregnancy changes, it may have to do with hormones. In fact, the same hormonal imbalance that causes many pregnant women to have darker nipples may also be the cause of linea nigra.

A temporary change

Whatever the cause, your pregnancy line won't last long. It should start to fade soon after your baby is born. So for now, you might just want to appreciate it for what it is: a very natural part of your journey through pregnancy. 

Source: American Pregnancy Association

Reviewed 11/27/2023

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