What is linea nigra and what causes it?

Linea nigra is the medical term for that dark line that appears during pregnancy. The line often starts at the belly button and ends at the pubic bone. Pregnancy hormones are responsible for many skin changes during pregnancy, including linea nigra. Increased melanocyte stimulating hormone can cause darker nipples and areolas, as well as freckles. Linea nigra is not a painful condition and poses no threat to you or your baby. There is no physical reason for the line to appear other than indicating that the baby is coming.

Important facts about linea nigra

This pregnancy induced skin change is caused by melanocyte stimulating hormone, which darkens certain areas when in contact with the sun. Therefore, sitting out in the sun with your tummy in the air will make the line darker and more noticeable. On darker skin, the line will look darker but may be more noticeable on lighter skin.

Could that dark line mean that I am pregnant?

The linea nigra rarely appears before you are at least several months pregnant. You may be pregnant, but you can't tell just from the linea nigra.

Treatments for linea nigra

There are no real treatments for linea nigra aside from using sunscreen when outside. Some researchers believe the line is associated with a deficiency in folic acid. Prenatal vitamins are created with more than enough folic acid for mom and baby, but eating foods that are dark and rich in folic acid never hurts. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables are all great sources of additional folic acid. Increasing folic acid will not necessarily prevent the line from appearing or cause the line to fade, so you should not worry if you are eating a folic acid rich diet and linea nigra still appears.

Does linea nigra mean it's a girl or boy?

There are many myths out there about whether you are having a boy or a girl. Some people think gender depends on the length of the linea nigra:

  • If the line going up from below stops at your belly button, it’s a girl 
  • If the line goes all the way up to the rib cage, it’s a boy 

Read More:
Is Breast Tenderness a Pregnancy Sign?
Gender Predictor Test: Baby Boy or Girl?