I have developed a dark vertical line down the middle of my tummy. What is this?
Changes in pigmentation are extremely common in pregnancy, affecting 90 per cent of all women in some way or another. These changes are more noticeable if you are darker skinned. You may notice a darkening of the skin around your nipples. A darkening of freckles, moles or birthmarks. A brown line down the centre of your stomach, also called linea nigra, which is what you have noticed. A few women may also experience brown patches on their face called chloasma or mask of pregnancy 1.
Extra amounts of oestrogen (hormone) in pregnancy affect the melanin-producing cells of the skin. These are the cells that produce the pigment that darkens the skin. This then results in a colour change where a woman’s skin is already darker. These colour changes are normal and will usually fade once the baby is born.
1Medforth J et al. Oxford Handbook of Midwifery. (2006) Adaptation to pregnancy.