Pregnancy is a period loaded with hope, excitement, and expectation. In addition, it is a time when you are more exposed to pains and discomforts. Back pain, hip pain, leg cramps, ligament pain, headaches… it seems pregnancy comes with a pack of pain and discomforts. There is another kind of pain that generally appears during the third trimester (though for some women it appears early stages too) – the rib pain. Being close to the stomach and the baby, it is quite natural to get worried and anxious about the rib pain. However, the good news is that more often than not this is no reason for concern.
rib pain during pregnancy

  • What Causes Rib Pain During Pregnancy?
  • When Does Rib Pain During Pregnancy Indicate A Serious Issue?
  • How Can You Get Relief From Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

What Causes Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

The main reasons for the pain in ribs during pregnancy are:

  1. Pressure in the diaphragm: Most of your internal organs are moving in, making room for your growing and moving baby. This will add the pressure on the internal organs. As a result, more pressure is put on the diaphragm by the internal organs. This will result in some piercing rib pain. In breech position, the baby’s head will put extra pressure on the ribcage ending up with pain in rib
  2. Hormonal changes: The increased progesterone level can lead to rib pain. This hormone, which loosens the ligaments and relaxes the muscles around the pelvic area for an easy delivery, will have a similar effect on the spine and rib cage. This will lead to rib pain just like the increased chances of back pain
  3. Increasing breast size: It is rather normal for your breasts to enlarge in the course of gestation. As the breasts become bigger, they put more weight on your rib cage as well as your back. This can totally alter your posture. It will draw your shoulders down, causing a persisting ache in your back and your ribs
  4. Urinary tract infection: Ribcage pain is a strange side effect of a UTI. When the urinary infection ascends towards the kidney, along with burning feeling and increased urination, pain in ribs can also appear
  5. Bigger uterus: Growing uterus is another cause for rib pain during pregnancy. The muscles around the rib cage can get strained as the growing uterus (especially towards the middle of the third trimester) puts pressure on it. The uterus will also tend to press up beneath the ribs.The breathing turns troublesome during this time and shortness in breathing will start to increase. What’s more, expecting mothers with bigger babies and short waists has increased a chance of fracturing their ribs in the course of pregnancy. Just imagine!
  6. Indigestion: Indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux during the pregnancy can cause pain in the ribs
  7. Emotional reasons: Anxiety and stress flaring up during pregnancy can trigger the tension and stress of the muscle. This can lead to rib pain along with the shoulder, neck, and head
  8. Limited motion: During the pregnancy, especially toward the last trimester, all type of motion are not possible (like bending down) as your body expands. This limitation of the musculoskeletal system can cause rib pain

When Does Rib Pain During Pregnancy Indicate A Serious Issue?

Rib pain, in the course pregnancy, can usually be innocuous. However, very rarely, it can be an indication of a more serious underlying issue. For example, pain appearing in the upper right abdomen can be an indication of:

  • Liver disease
  • Preeclampsia
  • HELLP syndrome
  • Budd-Chiari syndrome
  • Gallstones, since pregnant women possess a higher risk of experiencing gallstone issues. The bile ducts and gall bladder will be emptied in slower pace in the course of pregnancy. This, together with higher levels of estrogen triggers the formation of gallstone. Sometimes the stones can cause severe pain in the rib area. Around 2 %women have to undergo postpartum surgeries to remove gallstones.
    Your doctor should always check out the severe rib pain, as it might be an indication of a significant issue affecting the kidneys and liver

Therefore, never delay seeking medical attention when you start to experience sudden, severe and constant rib pain, and with or without any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Floaters and spots in front of eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

Rib pain pregnancy massage

How Can You Get Relief From Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

If you are experiencing rib pain during the third trimester, you have probably faced a fair share of pain and discomforts. Even though there is nothing to stress over with respect to rib pain, it is, no doubt, uncomfortable and undesirable. You will be in search for ways to alleviate the pain. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to manage your rib pain. Here are some ways:

  1. Good posture: Changing your stance has a significant effect on several reasons for the rib pain. Maintaining a good posture while sitting, standing, or walking will help to reduce the rib pain to an extent. Here are some tips:
    • Lean back while sitting and standing
    • Sleep on both sides propped up with maternity pillow
    • Change the position while sleeping. However, sleep more on your left side for uninterrupted blood flow
    • Sit on a chair that supports your back and maintains an upright position
    • If your job demands sitting for a long time, stretch one arm (at a time) above your head every now and then. Try to stand up and lean backward whenever able to take a short break
  2. Yoga:Practicing yoga and meditation relieve you from several types of body pain during the pregnancy. In fact, there is some particular asana, which helps to relieve completely from the rib pain. It is better to do it under the supervision of your yoga teacher
  3. Try using exercise ball: Those oversized exercise balls are very helpful in the course of pregnancy, particularly for rib pain. Lie down on your back on the ball and do a couple move outs. Do not do it alone or without proper training and only with the permission of your doctor. This will help to ease the torment
  4. Try using cold or warm compress:Press heat packs or cold packs, whatever suits you more, in the painful area. For better result, elevate the arm above the head while pressing the cold/ hot pack in the ribs. Taking a warm shower (on your back), likewise, will help to get a fast relief from the rib pain(though temporarily) by unwinding the strained muscle
  5. Try to get chiropractic care:Pressing the joints systematically can ensure the correct positioning of the skeletal framework. This will help to alleviate the pain due to musculoskeletal strain. This is very useful to eradicate the rib pain during pregnancy, as the stress of pregnancy slightly changes the joints of your body.Pressing the joints, likewise, helps your infant subside into a lower position, taking some weight off your ribs. Remember to take an appointment with a well-experienced chiropractor
  6. Try using supportive products: There are several varieties of supportive products available in the market. Belly bras, lumbar seat pillows, maternity pillow, pregnancy girdle supporting the lower body are only some of them. Most of these can reduce rib and back pain largely. Select one, which suits you
  7. Try doing some massage: A massage is an awesome approach to soothing rib torment. It just takes a couple of minutes of delicate massage to unwind those strained muscles, which make you relieved from the rib pain
  8. Wear loose clothes: Wear loose clothes regularly, never opt for tight fitting attire, which aggravates the rib pain
  9. Use properly fitting bra: Use the maternity bra that properly fits and supports the enlarged breasts in the course of pregnancy

This will help to reduce the pressure on the back and the rib cage.
Apart from all the managing methods, the only magic trick that will take away the rib pain for good is delivery.Therefore, do whatever suits you to soothe the rib pain, as it is not going to last long.