Rib Pain During Pregnancy- 8 Causes, 9 Fast Relief Methods

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

rib pain during pregnancy

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) – rib pain. Rib pain during pregnancy can be quite annoying.

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.

In This Article

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 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 rib cage ending up with pain in the 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 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

Rib cage 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 the ribs can also appear

5. Bigger Uterus

The growing uterus is another cause of 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 have increased the 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 types 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 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 Gallstones. Since pregnant women possess a higher risk of experiencing gallstone issues.

The bile ducts and gall bladder will be emptied at a 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 % of 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. The serious underlying issues that trigger rib pain during pregnancy are:

  • Liver disease
  • Preeclampsia
  • HELLP syndrome
  • Budd-Chiari syndrome

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

How Can You Get Relief From Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

good posture for rib pain

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 rib pain. Maintaining a good posture while sitting, standing, or walking will help to reduce rib pain to an extent. Here are some tips:
  • Lean back while sitting and standing
  • Sleep on both sides propped up with a 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 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 of 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 results, 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 fast relief from the rib pain(though temporarily) by unwinding the strained muscle

5. Try to Get Chiropractic Care

Get Relief From Rib Pain During Pregnancy

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 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 pillows, pregnancy girdles supporting the lower body are only some of them. Most of these can reduce rib and back pain largely. Select one, which suits you

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

7. Wear Loose Clothes

Wear loose clothes regularly, never opt for tight-fitting attire, which aggravates the rib pain

8. 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.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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