Pregnant Belly Basics: Everything You Need to Know About Linea Nigra

It's totally normal to develop a dark line, also known as a linea nigra line, on your stomach during pregnancy. We tapped into our experts to fill you in on this common condition.

When Cardi B shared a post-baby photo asking for help from her Instagram followers with her linea nigra line, we were reminded, yet again, that celeb moms are just like us.

A little over three months after the birth of her daughter Kulture Kiari, the new mom took to Instagram to flaunt her amazing post-baby abs. But as awesome as she looks, she wanted some advice from fellow moms:

"Ladies how do you guys get rid of the black line in the middle of your stomach after giving birth??" See the original post here, and take a look at the photo below:

Cardi B/Instagram

Look familiar? It should. Cardi B's dark line, technically known as linea nigra, is totally common during pregnancy and it lingers after. We tapped into our experts to fill you in on this dark belly line that develops during pregnancy.

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What is linea nigra?

The linea nigra is the result of fluctuating hormones. One theory is that they cause your body to make more than the usual amount of melanin, a compound responsible for giving your skin pigment, and this extra pigmentation shows up as a dark line stretching from the belly button to the top of the pubic hair. Women of all different skin colors are affected, although the line can be more pronounced in women with fair skin.

Is it dangerous?

Nope. While the linea nigra, or "black line," may be disconcerting, it's perfectly harmless—and perfectly normal. In fact, up to 75 percent of women will experience this hormone-induced darkening of the skin during pregnancy. 

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According to OB-GYN Michelle Tollefson, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of health professions, integrative therapies program at Metropolitan State College of Denver, the condition often appears in the second trimester and persists throughout pregnancy. Typically about 1 centimeter in width, the line usually starts at the pubic bone and continues up to the belly button, though it can extend to just below the breast in some cases. "Still," she says, "It's considered cosmetic and nothing that is worrisome in pregnancy."

When does linea nigra go away?

The condition typically resolves on its own within a few months of delivery, so many experts advise not treating it — especially during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding. "Stay away from bleaching creams, as they often contain hydroquinone, which has not been proven safe to use if you are pregnant or nursing," says Vaneeta Sheth, M.D., an associate physician and instructor in dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She adds that these creams may be used after delivery if you're formula-feeding, or you could try a fade cream or topical retinol. If you want a natural approach, try applying a little lemon juice to your skin. "Some women say the acids help fade hyperpigmentation," Sheth says.

To minimize the discoloration, you should also keep your belly covered when you head to the beach, and don't use tanning beds (which you should be avoiding anyway). But rest assured that after your baby is born the line will disappear eventually!

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