Your body is going through a phase of hyperpigmentation around the twenty-third week of pregnancy. This hyperpigmentation may cause a dark line that forms down the center of your belly or dark skin around your eyes. The belly line is called linea nigra and the pregnancy mask is called chloasma. Also, during pregnancy week twenty-three your baby is getting ready for another growth spurt.
Pregnancy Week 23: Baby’s Development, Growth, and Muscle Strength
Your baby is now about eight inches long and weighs over a pound. Your baby is getting ready for some rapid weight gain. He will double his weight over the next four weeks. His weight gain will be the most noticeable on you as your belly undergoes changes in shape, firmness, and color.
Starting around the twenty-third week of pregnancy, your baby’s muscles will strengthen and grow. His bones and blood vessels are still visible but he will start to gain fatty deposits under his transparent skin.
Pregnancy Week 23: The Dark Belly Line, Linea Nigra
Your belly will undergo several changes as your baby bulks up in size. As your belly starts to grow, you may notice a dark line running down the middle of your abdomen. This line is called the linea nigra. The linea nigra appears because of the hyperpigmentation of your skin. This is the same phenomena that happened with your areolas earlier in your pregnancy.
The linea nigra will extend from the upper portion of your belly all the way down to your pelvic bone. Unfortunately, this dark belly line will be with you for the remainder of your pregnancy.
The linea nigra will go away within a few weeks after childbirth. You should be forewarned that sometimes the darkened skin will actually be dryer and peel. This peeling skin may be raw, sensitive, and bleed slightly.
Pregnancy Week 23: Pregnancy Mask, Chloasma
You may also notice one other type of hyperpigmentation called chloasma. Chloasma is more popularly known as the pregnancy mask. The pregnancy mask is a darkened area of your cheeks and forehead giving your eyes a mask-like appearance. Again, this hyperpigmented area will disappear after your little one is born.
Hormones are responsible for all the hyperpigmentation going on with your body. Chloasma is just one more symptom of pregnancy. Some pregnant women look for creams that will help lighten the pregnancy mask but health care providers discourage the use of these creams during pregnancy. Your best defense against chloasma is to stay out of the sun without a facial sunscreen.
Hyperpigmentation affects about 70% of pregnant women. You are among the majority if you have the mask of pregnancy or a linea nigra.
For more pregnancy weeks and fetal development you can read:
Pregnancy Week 19
Pregnancy Week 20
Pregnancy Week 21
Pregnancy Week 22
Click here to find more information on your pregnancy and baby’s development.
Fit Pregnancy (2009). Pregnancy Calendar. Retrieved: April 8, 9, 2009. Web Site: fitpregnancy.com/calendar/40251887.html
Myers-Gorrie, Trula, Slone-McKinney, Emily, & Smith-Murray, Sharon (1998). Foundations of Maternal-Newborn Nursing (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders Company.
What to Expect (2009). Weekly Pregnancy Calendar. Retrieved:April 8, 9, 2009. Web Site: whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/week-by-week/landing.aspx