Your body has a great deal to cope with during pregnancy so naturally there are some changes that may take you by surprise - including a hairy belly or the appearance of a dark vertical line on your stomach. But there is no need to be alarmed.
Mum-of-two and women's health expert, Dr Catherine Hood (who's also an advisor for Dentinox) answers your hairy belly and linea nigra questions:
Why do some women get a hairy belly when they are pregnant?
In short, this changes in the body is due to hormones. Hairs on our body are usually in one of two phases; either growing and then falling out, or resting. At any time about 90% of our hair is growing and only 10% resting. During pregnancy, however, increased hormone levels push more hairs into the resting phase. This means fewer hairs are falling out and so you appear to have thicker hair. This excess hair is usually welcome on a woman's head but it can be more alarming when there appears to be an increase in the hairs on the body too.
You may also see a dark line appear on your bump, which is called the linea nigra. This is caused by a hormone produced by your growing placentam, which stimulates melanocytes in the skin to produce extra pigment. This darkens the nipples and can result in the line appearing in the midline down the pregnant abdomen.
Can you remove/bleach the hair? If so, what is the safest way?
After pregnancy the excess body hair will tend to all fall out, usually within six months. Waiting for this to happen is probably the easiest option but if you're very distressed at the appearance of body hair then you can have it removed. Waxing, shaving and plucking hairs is all safe in pregnancy (if painful). You can bleach the hairs but because this involves using chemicals then you may wish to avoid this option whilst pregnant. It's also safe to use laser removal techniques. This is a way to permanently remove excess hairs but it can be painful.
Real mums say
Well you've heard the expert advice but our Babyexpert forums have been abuzz with hairy belly and dark line tales. Here are some of our readers top tips:
"I pluck out the big ones (mine are thick and dark!), but leave the fuzzy ones! I figure the midwife has definitely seen worse things!" Br2B
"Don't belive the myth a hairy belly means it's a boy. Most pregnant women get hairy bellys so it doesn't depend on whether it's a boy or girl. I had one boy and got hairy belly and now I'm pregnant with a boy again and got hairy belly" Leanne859
"Hairy belly too! My hair is quite fair so was a little shocked to see darker hair growing on my bump. Convinced it's a sign I'm having a boy!!" pumbacat