What Is the Dark Line on My Pregnant Belly?

Linea Nigra in Pregnancy

Pregnant woman pointing to line on her belly

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The dark line on your pregnant belly is the linea nigra, sometimes called the pregnancy line. About 80% of pregnant people will see the linea nigra form on their stomach during pregnancy. It usually shows up sometime after the first trimester. It is not unique to pregnancy. It can also form when you are not pregnant, even in men. Learn more about the pregnancy line that may appear on your stomach while expecting.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Characteristics of the Linea Nigra

The linea nigra typically runs from your pubic bone to the top of your umbilicus (belly button), but it can extend all the way to your sternum. It is usually about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch wide. You may see that it gets lighter as it goes up. It may also be darker or lighter than you see on other pregnant women. These variations seem to be normal and not a concern.

The line often shows up around the fifth month of pregnancy. Sometimes, it seems to appear suddenly. For many pregnant people, the pregnancy line will darken throughout pregnancy.

What Causes the Linea Nigra During Pregnancy?

This line is probably caused by hormones in your body that change during pregnancy, although the exact cause is unknown. The placenta may release a hormone that stimulates melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin to pigment your skin or give you a suntan. You may notice that your nipples and areolas darken during pregnancy, which could be due to this factor.

One pregnancy superstition says that you only develop a pregnancy line when you are pregnant with a boy. That is only a myth. Women pregnant with girls also develop a pregnancy line.

Whether or not you have a linea nigra is not a way to determine whether someone is pregnant. Although more common in pregnant women, it is also seen in a significant percentage of girls, boys, men, and women who are not pregnant.

What is the Treatment for Linea Nigra?

Some women are disturbed by how the pregnancy line looks. However, there isn't really anything that you can or should do to make it go away, short of giving birth. Doctors warn against using medications or lotions on it. Bleaching the skin is harmful and will not remove the line. If you are really concerned, please talk to your doctor or midwife. It's best not to irritate your skin.

When Does the Linea Nigra Go Away?

The line will fade after you give birth. That vast majority of women will see it fade in the first months postpartum as hormone levels return to a pre-pregnant state. The timing varies slightly from woman to woman. Most women aren't even paying attention to it and simply notice at some point that it is no longer there.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Skin conditions in pregnancy. Reviewed June 2020.

  3. Vora RV, Gupta R, Mehta MJ, Chaudhari AH, Pilani AP, Patel N. Pregnancy and skinJ Family Med Prim Care. 2014;3(4):318-324. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.148099

  4. Okeke LI, George AO, Ogunbiyi AO, Wachtel M. Prevalence of Linea nigra in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate carcinoma. Int J Dermatol. 2012;51 Suppl 1:41-3, 45-8. English, French. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05564.x

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.