Linea nigra is also known as a pregnancy line. It is a dark line that develops across the belly when you are pregnant. This is a vertical streak that develops during the 23rd week of pregnancy, which is at about the fifth month.
The line is a result of raging hormones, which increase the skin-darkening melanin. Pregnancy lines occur in about 75 percent of pregnant women. The dark line is usually one centimeter in width. Women with fair complexions are less likely to have the pregnancy line compared to those with a dark complexion. In some women, the pregnancy line stretches from the middle of the abdomen down towards the pubic bone. For others, it goes from the pubis to the upper part of the abdomen or at times below the breasts. The line could have been there before your pregnancy, and it just wasn’t noticeable due to its white pigmentation. A pale white line is known as a linea alba that darkens and later on becomes linea nigra. The pregnancy line is never black; it is either brown or a darker shade of the color.
Causes of Linea Nigra
There are various reasons you may have the dark line from your chest to the navel. Here are some of the causes of pregnancy lining:
A hormonal imbalance commonly occurs during pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone are accountable for the darkening of the areolas, clitoris and nipples and the reason for the pregnancy lining darkening. Estrogen is responsible for increasing melanin, which gives the hair, eyes, and skin some dark color.
It is common for an expectant mother to have a darker skin complexion due to hyper-pigmentation. The darkening of the skin alerts you that your hormones are functioning as expected. Additionally, pregnancy hormones are responsible for various emotional and physical symptoms that will occur during your pregnancy.
The melanocyte-stimulating hormone, also known as alpha-melanotropin or intermedin, is a collection of hormones that the hypothalamus, skin cells, and intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland produce.
The hormone is essential in the complicated process of production and distribution of melanin into the hair follicles and underneath the epidermis. When you have an increased level of the melanocyte-stimulating hormone made by the placenta, you can expect linea alba to become linea nigra over time.
The pregnancy line poses no threat to you or your baby as it fades away nine to twelve months postpartum. Breastfeeding moms will have to wait a tad longer for it to disappear. The reason is unknown, but it might be due to hormones.
How to Prevent the Pregnancy Line
The line is a natural occurrence during pregnancy, and you can’t do anything to prevent it. However, there are ways you can reduce the dark color.
Too much exposure to the sun increases the chances of your having a dark line. Wear body lotion with SPF ranging from 15 to 30. Also, carry an umbrella with you to protect yourself from the ultra-violet rays of the sun. Keep your skin covered to prevent the worsening of skin discolorations.
Consume plenty of folic acid, or folate and Vitamin B12. The pregnancy line is reduced greatly when you consume folic acid. The acid helps in improving cell absorption, supports neural-tube development, and helps in maintaining and producing new cells.
Folic acid also protects the unborn baby from complications that can occur in the future. Some of the complications prevented are low birth weight, cleft lip, pregnancy loss, cleft palate, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), and preterm birth.
Apply lightening cream like cocoa butter to even out skin discoloration. You can try nut grass as well.
Consume plenty of Vitamin E. It is a nutrient and an antioxidant that rejuvenates the skin and gives it a youthful glow. It comes in the form of a gel capsule, lotion, oil, or cream. You can get vitamin E from foods such as vegetable oils, meat, milk, nuts (especially almonds), shrimp, fruits like kiwi, cooked butternut squash, cooked broccoli, and avocados, among others.
Rubbing a fresh lemon fruit on the line will whiten the skin due to its high citric-acid content.
What Not to Apply to the Pregnancy Line
Some products will do more harm than good; ergo, try and avoid them. Skin-bleaching creams, especially those that have hydroquinone, should not be used as they are not safe for pregnant women. Their use can result in skin cancer, birth defects or dark gray spots.
Avoid acne medications that contain salicylic acid or tetracycline when pregnant. Possible side effects include effects on the tooth color of the fetus, stillbirth and an increased chance of a miscarriage.
How Dark Can a Pregnancy Line Be?
It won’t be a black streak, but it is usually a color between pale white and dark brown.
Be comfortable with the pregnancy line as it will go away on its own after a while.