6 Causes of Rib Pain During Pregnancy & How to Alleviate it

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Professional physiotherapist explaining the thorax.

Rib pain during pregnancy is very common, especially during the third trimester. This comes after having aching back pain, hip pain and pains in virtually every part of your body. You may have a hard time breathing, feeling like you have an instant shortness of breath, and you may even have pain in your upper torso or back.

Most of these pains are rib-related.

There are a plethora of reasons for rib pain. The following 6 are most common:

1. Uterus Growth

Uterus looks on the white.Your uterus is expanding throughout your pregnancy to make room for the little one growing inside of you. Pressure is put on the muscles surrounding the rib cage, causing you to have a difficult time breathing and adds excess strain to the surrounding muscles.

Women that are smaller in size may even suffer from rib fractures in rare cases.

The size of the baby is also an issue. Bigger, heavier babies will naturally need more room to grow and will put excess strain on the ribs. If a woman is pregnant with multiples, she will experience more severe rib pain in most cases.

[Read more about Uterus]

2. Hormonal Changes

Practically everything during pregnancy is blamed on hormonal changes. It’s not only your mood swings that are caused by hormones; it’s also the rib pain that you’re suffering from now.

Why?

Progesterone levels inside of the body will increase during pregnancy. With an increase in progesterone, the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic area become looser and soft in preparation for giving birth.

This is only common in the last trimester of pregnancy.

3. Breast Size Increase

Professional physiotherapist explaining the thorax.Swollen, growing breasts can cause your body to ache all over. Your back will begin to ache, and your shoulders may start to hurt. All of this is related to your increase in breast size. It’s common for a woman’s breasts to increase during this time due to milk production and readying for the baby.

Many women gain 5 – 7 pounds in their breasts alone during pregnancy.

This added weight will cause more strain on your body’s muscles and can lead to rib pain during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to avoid this besides trying to relax and rest more often.

[Read more about Breast]

4. Urinary Tract Infection

Many woman experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) during pregnancy. This is an issue that will persist unless treated, but it can go away on its own over time. Normally, a doctor will need to be sought to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread and cause further issues in your kidneys.

A UTI will cause burning during urination and frequent urination.

Unfortunately, every woman will have increased urination during pregnancy, so the burning feeling is really the strongest indicator of a problem existing. You will feel pain in the lower abdomen and not the upper rib pain that is felt with other items on this list.

[Read more about UTI]

5. Muscle Tension And Stress

Pain on the right side during pregnancy is an indication of muscle tension and stress. The muscles will be under undue stress when pregnant, and so will the mother. Anxiety and emotions will be flaring at this time, making matters worse.

Thankfully, stress can be relieved with a hot relaxing bath, and some rest and relaxation.Young female touching her left side in pain.

6. Diaphragm Pressure

All of your internal organs are moving and making space for your baby. Internally, everything is shifting and adding pressure to your organs and muscles. The miracle of birth is one that is very complex and will add a lot of pressure to your diaphragm.

The fetus will expand to the chest area at this time.

You’ll notice a stretch or discomfort as the fetus moves and causes more pressure on the diaphragm. Shortness of breath is common as well as a noticeable difficulty when breathing.

The nerves that exist in the diaphragm will also suffer from added pressure that can cause sharp pains or make you more sensitive. The ribs and shoulders are the most affected areas of the body at this time.

Finding Relief

There is relief for rib pain during pregnancy. As a mother-to-be, you can:

 

  • Wear clothes that are looser. As your clothes shrink, you’ll be adding pressure to your ribs naturally, so maternity clothes are recommended. A maternity bra or a bra that is supportive of your larger breast size is also recommended.
  • Sleeping on your side at night can relieve pressure. Normally, women are advised to sleep on their left side due to the blood flow.
  • Pillow support can help. Women will often sleep with a full body pillow that is placed under their side so that they have added cushion and proper alignment when they sleep.
  • Massages are a great way to relieve muscle tension and stress. A gentle massage of the sides and rib area will help relieve much of the pain you’re experiencing.

With the right sleeping position, clothes and a little support, you’ll be able to relieve your rib pain and have a comfortable pregnancy. Don’t worry, the baby is on its way soon if you’re experiencing rib pain.Here is the video about rib pain during pregnancy.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I was having similar rib/nerve pain as well. My husband is a chiropractor and he recommended getting a soft foam roller. I roll on it 2-3x a day and this has pretty much cured the pain ! I highly recommend this!

  2. Im experiencing rib pain its so serve that sitting up makes it very uncomfortable and im due march 3. The pains been going on for 2 weeks i go to doctors tomorrow. Even laying on my side doesnt help laying ob my back does help some but sometimes hard o breath

  3. I have been experiencing rib pain, back pain, abdominal pain, head aches, heart burn, dizziness while showering, cramping, belly swelling, belly bottom swelling, tight back pains while I clean(taking lots of breaks, and fatigue. Haven’t missed my period yet. ( not until a couple more days) Should I be worried I’m pregnant?

    • Just wait. It’s super early. My husband and I decided to try for a little one right before our wedding. I watched for signs and knew the day I conceived but I was looking for it. Did you have any spotting? I still didn’t take a test until a day or two after my skipped period. That way I was more sure.

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