Rib Pain During Pregnancy – 9 Tips To Relieve Sore Ribs

Rib Pain During Pregnancy - 9 Tips To Relieve Sore Ribs

Rib Pain During Pregnancy

Rib pain during pregnancy is usually experienced in the third trimester, although for some women it can begin even earlier. The sensation can range from mild discomfort to strong pain.

Rib pain during pregnancy is caused by pressure from the top of your growing uterus, as well as your baby kicking or punching the area.

If your baby is in a breech position, the pressure from his or her head wedged underneath your ribs might be the cause of your discomfort.

Sore ribs are usually felt on the side of the baby’s position and just below the breasts. You’ll probably find that your ribs are more painful when sitting, moreso when leaning forward.

The fundus (the top of your uterus) is at it’s highest at around 36 weeks of pregnancy, reaching just below the breastbone. After 36 weeks, your baby drops into your pelvic cavity, in preparation for birth. This usually provides some much appreciated relief!

What Can I Do To Help Relieve The Discomfort of Rib Pain?

While there is not much you can do to stop a growing uterus, there are some things you can do to get some temporary relief.

The below suggestions will not ‘cure’ your soreness but may help you get that relief you need to get through until baby drops down lower.

It’s important to know that while you are pregnant, you cannot take many ‘pain killer’ or anti-inflammatory medications. For medications like ibuprofen, for example, the biggest risks (including some very serious) for your baby are in the first and third trimester.

For unbearable pain, see your doctor or midwife about taking paracetamol (known as acetaminophen in the US) or other medications. Pharmacists can also be a great resource on what you can take, as they are usually the most up-to-date on drug information. But unless you have professional advice, avoid all medicines where possible.

See our article for more information about pain killers during pregnancy.

Best Tips For Sore Ribs

Here are 9 tips to help if you’re experiencing rib pain during pregnancy:

  • Make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing loose fitting clothes
  • Support yourself with cushions when lying down
  • Sit up straight and don’t hunch over – create more room, while supporting your back
  • Avoid sitting down for too long – every two hours (or less if it helps), get up and take a stretch break or short walk
  • Heat packs or cold packs – whatever works best for you
  • A nice hot shower on your back (be sensible with this one – not too hot!)
  • Exercises that help you stretch out and support your body, like swimming
  • Cut out inflammation causing foods which can make you feel worse – most importantly, sugar and grains. Reducing these two will also significantly reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Stretch!

Here is a really effective exercise to give you temporary relief, as shared by midwife, Alan Rooney:

“Stand facing a wall. With your feet 40 centimetres from the wall, cross your arms in front of your face. Then lean your crossed arms on the wall sliding them up the wall above your head and stretching yourself up as far as possible. Hold the position for as long as comfortable. This lifts the diaphragm and rib cage up off the uterus and really provides effective, temporary relief, especially if the pain is caused by a breech baby’s hard little head wedged under your ribs.”

It’s also a great idea to visit your complementary health practitioner if you haven’t already. Depending on which therapy you prefer, an osteopathacupuncturist or chiropractor can help ease rib pain during pregnancy.

At the same time, your therapist can see how your body is going overall, and can detect any other areas which may be a problem — even contributing to your aches and pains if something is out of balance elsewhere.

Can Anything Stop Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

Aside from all that, there is only one magic pill that will take the rib pain away – giving birth!

Sorry to tease, but I have been there myself and the only thing that completely fixed my sore ribs was giving birth. As soon as my gorgeous girl was born, it completely disappeared.

 
Last Updated: July 25, 2016

CONTRIBUTOR

Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a writer, doula (trained in 2005), and a mother of three awesome children. She's passionate about informing and educating fellow thinking parents and parents-to-be, especially about all the things she wishes she knew before she had her firstborn. Kelly is also passionate about travel, tea, travel, and animal rights and welfare. And travel.


35 comments

    1. I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I got this awful pain with my last pregnancy too and was really dreading it. I find the only way to totally get rid of it is to lay in my left (my pain is on the right) with the support of pillows. The longer I’m on my feet the worse it gets. It really does got so bad you just want to cry. It’s like a burning pain, almost like something is going to snap. But I can promise this….it vanishes as soon as baby is born. You almost forget it ever existed!

      1. Ive got the same pain on the same side too,, im 26+5 and had it for about a week.. Ive been taking paracetamols but doesnt seem to help have you got any advice

  1. My mother had twins… And lots of rib pain. It took a year for the pain to go away and her bottom ribs stick out and are kinda funny looking. I have one rib where my baby is either pressing against or kicking, Ouch! It stings/burns and wakes me up. I feel like counter pressure against his kicks helps prevent whatever sort of bruising of going on there.

  2. I am27 weeks pregnant and this ribb pain has been so bad that I have been to the emergency room twice. Cant breath feels like my heart is gonne stop. Been horrible. Didnt have this with the two boys. Not sure why i have this now?
    Only thing that really helps with the pain is a hot hot shower and the some sleep.

    1. Have they checked your blood pressure and is the pain on both sides or just one? Pain on the right side is a sign of preeclampsia and with you saying that you can’t breath, I would definitely get that checked out by your OB just to make sure it is only from the baby’s position and not an underlying issue.

      1. My pain is on the right side and when I rub my hand over it it feels swollen compared to the left! Consultant prescribed me cocodamol but I’ve given up taken those because they don’t work either. What should I do?

        1. Let me guess did you end up having pancreatitis and getting gallbladder tooken out! Its comments for prego women to get it taken out due to gallbladder stones getting longe in the ducts of pancreas and cause the pancreas to inflame!

      2. Haley, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I came across your comment a few weeks ago. I’d been really struggling with rib pain and was looking for reassurance on whether it was normal or not. The pain was only on the right side and I’d assumed that it was baby pushing for more room (I’m only 5ft and this is my first pregnancy). I googled pre-eclampsia after reading your comment and called my midwife the next day. Long story short: I had severe pre-eclampsia and the pain was my enlarged liver trying to stretch. I had an emergency c-section at 31w+1 with only 1 shot of steroids ( they thought that in the 12hrs in between shots, my liver could have burst. Resulting in death) and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I was in hospital for 9days and am still recovering, and our son will be in hospital for the next 8 weeks.

        Your comment saved our lives. And I can’t thank you enough x

        I know we’re told not to Google symptoms and not to believe everything we read, but if you think that something’s not right, speak to your Dr or midwife ASAP. Better to feel a bit daft than to miss something serious, as I almost did. X x x

    1. I know this is old but there are no replies for other possible moms having the same problem. If you’re experiencing a lot of morning sickness and vomiting then I can see rib pain having to do with pregnancy. Otherwise it might be an entirely different issue. I’m no doctor though. Either way, get it checked out. When I’m pregnant I go to the doctor for everything.

  3. Hi I’m 34 weeks and my left rib is killing me Which is the side my little one is laying on… The advice online does help a little but it’s just Mother Nature telling you it’s nearly time for his/hers grand entrance.. Plus had hip ache which again your body getting ready for labour. The joys of pregnancy x

  4. Rib pain is tearing my wife apart. She is 36weeks pregnant. We just came to clinic this 1am. She could not sleep nor sit down.

  5. i am currently 34 weeks, the pain is excruciating. Hoping I get some relief when baby drops into the birth canal.
    I have found that a cold wheat pack gives me a slight bit of relief but the only thing that helps is sleep,

    I have experienced the pain since around 20 weeks and prior to 20 weeks it was tender at around 8 weeks and would feel tingly in the right side under my breast. Your not alone ladies and it certainly does get worse as I have been noticing the further along I get. I wish I could say it gets better

  6. I have had this pain my last three pregnancies and it is reaching the unbearable point. So hard to take care of our other little children and family with the pain. It started as I entered my 30th week of pregnancy. In the past it has subsided as the baby got lower. Lying on an ice pack for a bit today relieved the pain a bit but it started again as soon as I got up, can’t spend weeks lying down with a busy family! I have seen a chiropractor other pregnancies and it didn’t help, the baby just needs to get lower.

  7. Hi! I am a bit over 36 weeks and have suffered from extreme rib pain (left side) since week 32. It was so unbearable I was admitted to the hospital a couple weeks ago when I was having difficulty breathing and had X-Rays taken. While there is no fracture or break, it’s a horrible sprain resulting from the following: bad summer cold with a cough; transverse baby kicking in the same L side spots; and growing uterus. I HAVE found some relief with the following: NOT sleeping on the L side (obvious) and having my husband really assist me with getting in and out of bed; Tylenol at night (I’d prefer not to take anything but this has helped); a hot (not too hot) shower and bath; alternating heat with ice, and ACUPUNCTURE w/Acupressure. This, by far, has helped the most with pain management and healing! Highly recommend, ladies, and best of luck to everyone for a happy, healthy D-day!

  8. I’m only 17 weeks along with twins n I’vebeen having the pain in my ribs since I was around 10 weeks. It’s a horrible feeling on my right side. I’ve found nothing to help n I’ve done stretches, Tylenol, heat n cold, laying down.. everything possible I can think of. N now I’ve been up for 2 hours because of it. This momma needs her sleep

  9. I am 31 weeks and have horrible rib pain. The best temporary relief for me is to get into the yoga child’s pose. It’s a slightly modified pregnancy version but it works! Stretches out my torso where I don’t feel the pressure and burning sensation right under my boobs.

  10. I am 33 or 34 weeks now and I have pains in my ribs severely unbearable!. Showers doesn’t help me with pain, i could totally be naked and nothing, and changing positions don’t help. If not in one rib it’s in the other or both. I don’t have shortness of breath but my breathing rhythm has changed but I tried warm rags and pressure but one thing that worked for me for a couple seconds was “Sore No More”, but I can’t and probably should’t be using that?. I believe I found a solution getting on my knees and leaning on my forearms so my butt is lil’ in the air so the pressure can get off my uterus or pressure point causing pain. Could it be a bruised rib because one morning the baby was all stretched out in my rib(contraction for 3 hours)?. Any advice or different methods for the pain?.

    1. Where is the pain exactly by more? Is like just under ur ribs at the bottom or high under your breast on right side, and is it like a burning excruciating pain sharp too, like hard to get comfortable? And does it come and go or has it just started and being everyday so far

  11. Hello, Im in my 34th week and have been experiencing lower rib pain (mostly on the left side, occassionally on the right side) since the start of my last trimester, i think. It wakes me up and is really really painful, especially when changing positions.. I also feel a burning pain while sitting down. Is there any way I can reduce these pains? It feels that I can’t lay straight on the bed nor sit straight as both position result in in discomfort. 🙁

  12. I am 19 wks pregnant with my 2nd. Had the same on my 1st but not to the very end. This is a lot earlier. So painful, feels like my ribs are bruised! It’s on my right side!

    1. I’m the same at 20 weeks it’s driving me to tears I can’t get any relief I have it on right under my breasts and same in my back too

  13. I am 21 weeks and i am experiencing ribs pains. I have tried some jogging after work but it couldn’t help. It started as early as 16 weeks. What can i do because it is real makes me discomfort

  14. I’m 37 weeks and 1day and I get extremely uncomfortably pain in my left side of the ribs but I have found that having a relaxing bath and using mum and me baby bath on my belly relieves the pain which lasts up to about 3-4 hours which is enough time to ry and get some sleep

  15. Hi I’m 22+2 days and I’ve been haveing upper back pain and also rib pain but all the pain is in the back of my ribs . I can’t lays Down or stay still it’s just a discomforting pain . I’ve tried everything from massage to gaviscon for intigestion The only thing that works for some time is when I stretch my back with my hands in the air

  16. 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!

  17. Feel better knowing I’m not Alone with this one because when I talk to anyone no one relates to this excruciating pain. I had it when carrying my daughter and this time round it’s even worse. This sharp nerve pain in my left rib is pulsating and feels like a burning sensation when I’m sat down.. In my upper back too. It’s brought me to tears tonight 🙁 x

  18. I’m 27 weeks and I have been through the wars with this baby- My ribs have been excruciating for months- burning on the right side under boobs, to the point i’m thinking it must be a cracked rib or heavy bruising, uncomfortable to sit, stand, walk, lay down! Only comfort I get is if I lay on right side onto a pillow and put pressure on the pain! I haven’t slept in my left as I’m in too much pain which is bad for circulation! Now doctors say I have small blood clot blockages and have to inject myself everyday! Totally over this pregnancy and feeling sorry for myself 🙁 xx

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