During her 2nd pregnancy, television presenter Rochelle Humes took to Instagram to ask fans what the dark line down the middle of her belly was.
The answer? It’s her linea nigra – literally ‘black line’ in Latin – that appears during pregnancy, running from your belly button down to your pubic area. It replaces the ‘linea alba’ (white line) you had all the time before pregnancy but probably didn’t notice.
What causes linea nigra?
Your skin becomes hyper-pigmented when you’re pregnant, thanks to hormones – which means the linea alba becomes darker.
When does it appear?
The linea nigra usually appears in your 2nd trimester, though not everyone gets one, and that’s nothing to worry about. It’s also more likely to appear on darker skin; if you’re pale, you might have one but just don’t notice it.
Can I get rid of it?
You can help to stop it becoming darker by wearing sun block or covering your stomach if you’re out in the sun.
But really the best thing for it is to give it time: after you’ve had your baby, the linea nigra should fade away over a few months.
Can you tell the sex of your baby from the linea nigra?
The old wives’ tale has it that if your linea nigra keeps going above your belly button you’re having a boy, and if it stops below your belly button it’s a girl.
But, as with most of these things, there’s no scientific evidence to back it up (sorry ? )
What do our mums say about linea nigra?
“I got so excited this morning as I thought one had developed, but no!! It was just a crease from how I was laying lol!!”
And, really interestingly, we also discovered from the mums in our forum that just, because you get a linea nigra for one pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have one again the next time round.
Heather743 said: “With my 1st two children, I got it round about the 16-week mark and it got darker and darker as time went on.
“BUT! Here I am 30 weeks on Friday with number 3 and no sign of it yet!!”
And Mandie had a similar experience: “I’m on my 3rd, due in 3 weeks and this time I don’t have one either and in my previous 2 I did.
“A friend of mine said the same thing happened with her 3rd. It’s strange, I guess your body reacts in different ways in each pregnancy?”
While in general, as we mentioned above, the linea nigra usually appears in your 2nd trimester, that’s not always the case.
K-lou got hers really early, and also noticed it grew longer as the weeks went on: “I am a bit odd [as] I got mine – and this is my 1st baby – at 11 weeks!
“It was just from my belly button down, but now I am 19+5 and starting to get one that goes up as well. Some girls just don’t get them though.”
And finally, on the question of how long their linea nigra took to fade, our mums differed.
Claire-abelle says: “I’d say mine took a good 3 months to fade, maybe a bit longer – but it will go eventually.”
And Soda said: “Mine went at around 6 months, although I’ve now found out I’m pregnant again with twins… and it has come back, but only really faint this time.”
Photos: Getty/Rochelle Humes on Instagram