Linea Nigra: What IS That Dark Line? And Will It Ever Go Away?

Find out when this dark line usually appears, what it could mean, and when linea nigra disappears. Plus get natural remedies to lighten the pigmentation.

Our bodies do a lot of weird things during pregnancy, linea nigra included. Find out when this dark line usually appears and why, when it disappears, plus get natural remedies to lighten the pigmentation. We've also got the inside scoop on what linea nigra says about your baby's sex.

During pregnancy, your body’s once familiar landscape changes right before your eyes. Straight hair turns curly, you’re craving foods you’ve always hated, you’re burping and snoring, drooling, sweating… all of those signs of pregnancy are weird in so many ways, right? So when you look in the mirror one day, admiring your bump, and you see a dark line called the linea nigra running down your belly, it may just feel like par for the pregnancy course.

Still, you’re likely to have a lot of questions about that mysterious dark line. In this post we’ll answer: 

What is Linea Nigra?

Everyone—babies, kids, men, women… all humans!—has a band called linea alba (Latin for white line) that runs down the front of the abdomen, between the belly button and pubic area. It’s just generally too light to see. When melanin production increases during pregnancy (thanks to elevated estrogen levels produced by the placenta), the linea alba gets darker and more apparent.

This is called linea nigra, and approximately 75 percent of women notice it at some point during pregnancy.

The linea nigra is generally about 1/4 inch – 1/2 inch wide and may get lighter as it extends up the belly. (source) The color, or degree of pigmentation, varies from woman to woman.

When Does Linea Nigra Appear?

Linea nigra usually begins to show up during the second trimester, or around the 5th month. It can get darker and longer as your pregnancy progresses. By the end of their pregnancy, some mamas say that their linea nigra went all the way up to the top of their belly.

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But What You Probably Really Want to Know: When Does Linea Nigra Go Away?

It usually starts to fade shortly after the birth of the baby—most likely within a few months. If you’re breastfeeding, it could take longer since your body is still producing more hormones. As hormones level out, the linea nigra will fade in most women. Though, if you get pregnant again later, it will probably come back.

In rare cases, it may never fade completely. (source)

Can You Get Rid of Linea Nigra Sooner?

You can’t, and that’s OK! It’s a perfectly normal part of pregnancy, and just shows externally all the incredible things your body is doing internally to nourish and care for your baby. It’s pretty much proof of the miracle that’s happening in there, so don’t be self-conscious about it!

That said, there are a few things you can do things to lessen the contrast:

  • Lemon juice: Mix 1/2 lemon juice and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide (cucumber juice is a good substitute for hydrogen peroxide) in a spray bottle. Spray on belly a few times a day to help remove the dark pigmented top layer of skin.
  • ACV toner: Apple cider vinegar can remove dark spots and improve overall skin health. Mix 1/2 ACV and 1/2 water, then apply it directly to the dark area.
  • Turmeric milk: Turmeric helps protect the skin from UV damage. Make a paste of turmeric and milk, then apply to the dark area. Leave on for 10 minutes, then wash off. Drinking turmeric milk may also help.
  • Horseradish milk: Blend a few inches of horseradish root with 1/2 cup of water, then strain into a glass. Mix 2 tablespoons of the horseradish juice with 2 tablespoons of milk. Splash on belly 10 minutes before showering.
  • Milk of magnesia: Clean dark areas and apply the liquid with a cotton ball before bed. Rinse off in the morning.
  • Oatmeal honey mask: Oatmeal exfoliates and honey has special enzymes that can break down dark pigment. Mix cooked oatmeal with raw honey to form a mask, then apply to the skin. Leave on for 10 minutes before washing off.

What About Bleaching Creams?

Bleaching creams are not safe. Not for pregnant mamas, not for breastfeeding mamas, not for anyone at all. Please don’t use them.

Most skin bleaching creams contain an ingredient called hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is listed as a Category C in the FDA database of drugs safe for pregnancy. Category C means they don’t really know if it’s safe for the baby in utero. There hasn’t been enough (or any) conclusive testing, so it’s not worth the risk.

How to Prevent Linea Nigra

There is no way to prevent linea nigra. Some people simply produce more melanin than others, however the following daily habits can minimize hyperpigmentation:

  • Cover up or wear sunscreen. Avoid peak hours (12 p.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.) and stay in the shade when possible. Overexposure to sun can increase hyperpigmentation, which is why your skin tans (or burns) after exposure to the sun.
  • Take your prenatals! Folate deficiency can cause hyperpigmentation, so make sure you are taking a folic acid supplement.
  • Eat plenty of folate rich foods. Dark leafy greens (like spinach, collard greens, and kale), asparagus, broccoli, and citrus (papaya, oranges, and grapefruit) have the highest concentrations of folic acid.

What Causes Linea Nigra?

Larger amounts of estrogen and progesterone stimulate cells called melanocytes in your skin, causing them to produce more melanin, making skin darker in some places (including the linea nigra). Pregnant mamas may also notice darker patches of skin, as well as darkening nipples, freckles and dark patches on the face—even your vulva can darken.

A dark linea nigra is more common in people with dark skin, since they have more melanin naturally, though it can be more obvious in fair-skinned individuals due to the contrast in skin color.

Does Linea Nigra Mean It’s a Girl or a Boy?

Someone may ask you if you have a linea nigra as a way of guessing your baby’s sex. There are a ton of old wives’ tales that predict whether you’ll have a boy or a girl, but most of them are just for fun. This one is no different—in fact, people can’t even seem to agree whether the presence of a linea nigra means you’re having a boy or a girl! Some say women with any linea nigra at all will have a boy. Others says it depends on the length of the linea nigra:

  • If the line stops at your belly button, it’s a girl ?
  • If the line goes to the rib cage, it’s a boy ?

I had a slight linea nigra with my son’s pregnancy and no line with my girl.

Embracing the Changes in Your Body

A dark line down your belly may seem like it shouldn’t be a big deal, but with all the other changes pregnancy throws at you, it might be hard to swallow. Try not to let it get you down. Your body is working hard, doing incredible things to care for your baby, to nurture the life growing inside you. Just like your belly, your stretch marks, and your random stray hairs and skin tags, your linea nigra is a sign that everything is going according to plan with your pregnancy. Your body is creating a miracle. ✨

How About You?

Did you get linea nigra? When did it appear and when did it disappear?

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a doula and childbirth educator. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 135,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.


  1. I still have one and I’m a little past 6 months postpartum and still exclusively breastfeeding. I didn’t notice it until after I gave birth. It is pretty light and goes up a little past the belly button.

  2. I had it very dark with my first and second, both girls. Not at all with my third, boy. And again really dark with my fourth, a boy! I’ve always wondered why I had it 3 of the times but not one of the times haha

  3. 8 years later and the line from my 2nd child is still there. It’s not very noticeable, but it’s there. It completely disappeared after my first, so I wonder why it’s still there this time… possibly hormones. ?

    • I feel like mine has come to stay too, it’s almost 4 years and it’s still very much obvious.
      Reading that after 8 years, yours is still there kind of relieves me of the worries I’ve been having.

  4. I don’t remember which baby it was (currently growing number 5), but I felt like it was never going away. it did… I didn’t even notice when it did, I just know it’s not there anymore. haha… Mom Life is too busy to be concerned about those little things lol. I’m 20 weeks now, so it seems like I should expect to see it reappear soon. Thanks for the article! I was wondering why mine lingered so long; the breastfeeding explanation makes sense. I ebf all my babies. I pray you all here have a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and babies 🙂

  5. Though I am doing exclusive breastfeeding,I wish it can go away?

  6. Mine is very long, top to bottom (of the belly botton), and I had a girl. It’s four months and it’s still so fresh and glaring?‍♀️

  7. I didn’t have a line during my first pregnancy. I delivered at 36 weeks and AFTER I gave birth, it started appearing. It didn’t go away until my second pregnancy and it just all of a sudden disappeared… I’m 34 weeks and haven’t seen it come back.

  8. I don’t have any hormone imbalance too and I have had linea nigra since I was a little girl… I beleive it’s genetic too

  9. It seems like im the opposite of your article. I do have linea nigra, but i don’t have any hormonal imbalance, my period was regular, when i got pregnant my line extends above my belly button, but i got a girl not boy. And my baby has it also. Im not sure if it can be linked to genetics since my mom don’t have it. And i dont think it will ever disappear. 🙂

    • Mine is very long, top to bottom (of the belly botton), and I had a girl. It’s four months and it’s still so fresh and glaring?‍♀️

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