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The Pregnancy Linea Nigra
Did you know that only about 75% of all pregnant women experienced this hormone – induced skin darkening phenomenon?
Linea Nigra (Latin word for black line), widely known as the pregnancy line, is the vertical streak which usually develops during the 23rd week (5 months pregnant) and stays throughout the journey. The dark lining is typically about 1 centimeter in width.
Women who have a fair complexion are less likely to develop a Linea Nigra compare to those who have a darker complexion. Moreover, the Linea Nigra of women who have darker skin is more noticeable compare to fair – skinned women.
The pregnancy lining stretches across the middle of the abdomen, down the pubis symphysis (pubic bone) to the umbilicus (navel). However in some women, the Linea Nigra stretches from the pubis up to the upper part of the abdomen or below the breasts.
In line with this, there is an old wives tale which states that if the line ends above the navel, an expectant mom is carrying a girl. However, if the line runs past to the bottom of the rib cage, an expectant mom is carrying a boy.
On the contrary, there is a possibility that the vertical lining has been there prior to pregnancy, however, the lining went unnoticed due to its pale white pigment.Pregnancy week by week
The pale white line is called as Linea Alba (Latin word for white line), which darkens over time and becomes a Linea Nigra. The pregnancy line usually goes darker during the course of pregnancy.
Causes of the pregnancy lining
The appearance of the Linea Nigra is a normal part of gestation and there is nothing worrisome about it. As a matter of fact, the specific cause of Linea Nigra is still unknown until now however, below are the following causes which is linked to the lining:
Pregnancy hormones (progesterone and estrogen) which are accountable for the darkening of the areolas, nipples, and clitoris are the same reason of the darkening of the Linea Alba.
Specifically, the estrogen hormone causes an increase in melanin – the pigment that gives the skin, hair, and eyes some darker color.
When a woman is expecting a baby, these hormones tend to produce extra melanin (resulting to hyperpigmentation). Thus, a woman’s skin complexion becomes darker during the course of gestation.
The darkening phenomenon also serves as a definite sign that the hormones are functioning well.
Pregnancy hormones are also responsible for the series of physical and emotional symptoms as the unborn baby develops.
The hormonal imbalance which also happens during the course of pregnancy is related to the appearance of the Linea Nigra.
Melanocyte – stimulating hormone
The melanocyte – stimulating hormone (abbreviated as MSH and also called as alpha – melanotropin or intermedin) refers to the collection of hormones produced by the hypothalamus, intermediate lobe of the pituitary glands, and skin cells.
From the name itself, melanocyte – stimulating hormone plays an important part in the melanogenesis (a complex process of the production and distribution of melanin underneath the epidermis and into the hair follicles).
A heightened level of MSH causes darker skin pigmentation. Because of that, the melanin emphasizes the Linea Alba and becomes a Linea Nigra over time.
In a like manner, some theories suggest that the MSH serves as the main contributing cause of pregnancy Linea Nigra.
Tips and to do’s to lessen the chances of having a pregnancy line
The pregnancy Linea Nigra typically fades and diminishes on its own between 9 – 12 months after giving birth. On the bright side, there are some available tips and to do’s that can help in diminishing the brownish streak:
Protect skin from the harsh ultraviolet sun rays
Too much exposure from the sun increases the chances of having a pregnancy line. To decrease the chances of developing a Linea nigra, below are the following ways to protect the skin from the harsh ultraviolet sun rays:
- Use body lotion with broad spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) at least 15 – 30
- Use an umbrella to block the harmful ultraviolet sun rays
- Keep the skin covered, long periods of sun exposure make skin discolorations much worst
Eat plenty of foods with folic acid
Some confirmations point out that discolored skin patches are linked to folic acid deficiency anemia. Folic acid (also known as folate and Vitamin B12) is a type of Vitamin B that reduces the Linea Nigra ominously, although not entirely.
The folic acid also plays a significant part in the cells such as:
- Helps in cell absorption
- Aids in the production and maintenance of new cells
- Supports the neural tube development
In relation to gestation, having sufficient intake of folic acid protects the unborn baby from future complications such as:
- Cleft lip
- Cleft palate
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Pregnancy loss
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
Enough consummation of folic acid also reduces the risks of:
- Pre – eclampsia, a pregnancy complication which usually occurs during the 2nd trimester
- Certain cardiovascular conditions
- Certain types of cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
To prevent the risks of having folic acid deficiency anemia, enlisted below are the following foods which are rich in folic acid:
- Green and leafy vegetables
- Whole wheat breads
- Whole wheat and fortified cereals
- Dried beans
- Green peas, preferably boiled Great Northern beans
- Lentils, preferably the mature ones (either cooked or boiled)
- Beef liver (either cooked or braised)
- Broccoli (cooked)
- Brussels sprouts
- Spinach (either frozen, boiled, or cooked)
- Egg noodles (either in enriched or cooked form)
For an alternative medicine, below are the recommended dosages per day during the course of gestation:
- 400 mcg – when trying conceive and until during the 3rd month of pregnancy
- 600 mcg – 4 – 9 months of pregnancy
- 500 mcg – when breastfeeding
Apply a fade and/or lightening cream
A fade and/or lightening cream is a product which evens skin discoloration and lightens darker pigmentation. This type of cream evens out the pigmentation of the lining and the belly’s skin overall.
That said, below are the following types of cream which are effective in diminishing the line:
- Topical retinoid (also known as Vitamin A cream)
- Cocoa butter – a widely used skin care ingredient with nourishing abilities which prevents the development of Linea Nigra
- Nut grass – a home remedy which is used to effectively cure various health problems. The nut grass extract can lighten the lining and make the skin glow
Vitamin E (also known as Tocopherol) is both an anti – oxidant and a nutrient which rejuvenates the skin and gives it a youthful glow. It is also a widely used ingredient on skin care which promotes smooth and hydrated skin.
With that being said, vitamin E enriched skincare products are widely accessible on all drugstores across the globe. To use its advantages, below are the following sources on where to extract vitamin E:
- Vitamin E gel capsule – purchase a vitamin E enriched gel capsule, use a needle to prick the capsule, squeeze the gel on a small container, dip the fingertips on the gel and rub it on the Linea Nigra and see the results (lighter lining) after a few weeks.
- Vitamin E enriched lotion – slather on some Vitamin e enriched lotion on the Linea Nigra after taking a bath or before bedtime for best results.
- Vitamin E oil – vitamin E oil is considered as the purest form of extraction.
- Vitamin E cream – vitamin E cream are widely used to diminish scars and stretch marks. Most people do not know that vitamin E creams are also effective in diminishing the pregnancy lining.
Aside from that, vitamin E is also found in foods such as:
- Vegetable oils
- Nuts (particularly almonds)
- Sunflower seeds (preferably roasted)
- Fish (such as rainbow trout)
- Plant oils (preferably olive oil)
- Broccoli (cooked)
- Squash (particularly cooked butternut squash)
- Fruits (particularly kiwi)
Some women use cosmetics to temporarily cover the Linea Nigra or make it appear lighter. However, a woman should always clean her belly skin when removing cosmetics because these have side effects such as allergies and other skin diseases.
Rub on some lemon
For a natural alternative, slice a fresh lemon fruit and rub on the pulp on the Linea Nigra. Lemon is also effective in whitening one’s skin due to its high citric acid content.
Scrub with a loofah sponge
When taking a bath, scrub the belly skin with a loofah sponge to remove the dead skin cells. Linea Nigra is a combination of skin pigmentation and dead skin cells. Rubbing the Linea Nigra gives way for the new cells and replaces the old ones on the skin’s surface.
What not to apply on the pregnancy Linea Nigra
Skin bleaching cream
Do not purchase nor apply skin bleaching creams on the Linea Nigra, especially those which contain hydroquinone. These types of creams are not proven safe to use while pregnant or nursing.
Skin bleaching creams are used to even out skin discoloration (such as freckles, spots of aging, and the like) and lighten hyperpigmentation.
Bleaching creams with hydroquinone is considered as a pregnancy category C ingredient. This means that this product has been proven to impose risks and side effects such as the following enlisted below:
- Birth defects
- Dark gray spots
- Skin cancer
Avoid applying any acne medications (especially those which contain harmful chemicals such as Accutane, Salicylic acid, Doxycycline, Minocycline, and Tetracycline) while pregnant.
Acne medications are proven to cause side effects such as the following below:
- Birth defects
- Increases the risk of miscarriage
- Affects bone growth and development
- Affects the tooth color of the fetus
Pregnancy Linea Nigra FAQs
Here are the following things that a pregnant woman must know about the pregnancy Linea Nigra:
Can a pregnancy Linea Nigra be prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the development and appearance of the pregnancy Linea Nigra. On the bright side, there is a way to lessen the appearance of the dark streak on the lower belly.
How dark can a pregnancy Linea Nigra be?
The real pigment of the pregnancy Linea Nigra is never and will never be a black streak. It is typically pale white to dark brown in color.