pregnant belly with hands on it.

Linea Nigra: The Dark Line on Your Belly, Explained

By Stacey Feintuch
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
December 22, 2023

Do you have the pregnancy line? It’s known as the linea nigra—a dark vertical line that runs between the belly button and pubic bone, in the middle of some pregnant bellies. It may even extend up to the rib cage.

What Causes the Linea Nigra?

The line may have been there before you were pregnant. But it was so faint you didn’t even notice it, and it was called the linea alba, or white line. “While it is often spotted in the first trimester, the linea nigra can get darker and wider during the rest of the pregnancy,” says Hayley Goldbach, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Not everyone will have a linea nigra during pregnancy. But for those who do, the linea nigra may be related to changing hormones or the imbalance of hormones, such as increased levels of progesterone and estrogen secreted by the placenta.

“There is an increased activation of skin pigment stimulated by hormones related to pregnancy,” explains Jonathan Schaffir, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in Columbus, Ohio. He says that people who have darker skin tend to have a line that’s more noticeable.

Does the Linea Nigra Go Away?

“It tends to fade or totally disappear after the baby is born,” Goldbach says. The time it takes to fade may vary from person to person.

You can’t do anything to prevent or treat this line—and it’s not necessary anyway. “It cannot hurt you,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Connecticut. The linea nigra is a very common part of pregnancy, but if you’re concerned or think you might be experiencing some other skin issue, show your doctor at your next visit.

“Luckily, your belly gets a lot of attention during medical visits, so it’s fairly simple to get reassurance during one of your normal appointments,” Goldbach says.

An old wives’ tale suggests that the height of the linea nigra is a clue to whether you’re having a boy or a girl. “That doesn’t seem to be true!” Goldbach says.

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