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 can be really uncomfortable for pregnant women.

It usually occurs in the third trimester, although for some women it can begin even earlier.

The sensation can range from mild discomfort to strong pain.

The pressure from the top of your growing uterus is to blame for rib pain during pregnancy.

Your baby kicking or punching the area can be another reason.

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, more-so 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 Relieve Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

While there’s 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’ the pain, but may help you get the relief you need 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.

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Top Tips For Rib Pain During Pregnancy

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 relief from rib pain during pregnancy, as shared by midwife, Alan Rooney:

“Stand facing a wall. With your feet 40 centimetres (16 inches) from the wall, cross your arms in front of your face. Then, lean your crossed arms on the wall. Slide your arms up the wall and stretch yourself up as far as possible. Hold the position for as long as comfortable. During this exercise, the diaphragm and rib cage are lifted up off the uterus, providing some relief. This stretch really does provide 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 osteopath, acupuncturist or chiropractor can help ease rib pain during pregnancy.

Can Anything Stop Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

Aside from all that, there’s only one magic pill that can take the pain away – giving birth!

Sorry to be a party pooper! But having personally suffered rib pain during pregnancy, the only thing that completely fixed my uncomfortable ribs was giving birth.

As soon as my gorgeous girl was born, it completely disappeared.

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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.


    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. Wow! I’m here for the rib pain. Mine is on the left side, so I know it’s just rib pain. I just wanted to say what a blessing it was that she mentioned that to you! That was so humbling for me to read! I’m happy everything turned out ok. This just shows that you never know when you can make a difference in someone’s life!

          1. Mine is on the left too but its my lower rib. I’m only in my first trimester though it’s unbearable i cant bend over, walk, breathe, or move without crying

        2. Hi, Erin – I realize it’s been a while since you posted your comment but I wanted to ask if you had been getting regular blood work done before your diagnosis? Did the preeclampsia appear suddenly or did they miss it during a routine check?

    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

    1. Hello, how did this turn out for you? I’m currently pregnant with twins I’m 19 weeks and intense pain. I hope you hear from you.

      1. How are you doing now? I’m 16 weeks with twins and my right rib pain is back – had it with my son back in 2014 too but didn’t start until third trimester. I’m worried this is going to be a long road with these twins!

  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’m 32 weeks I’m in excruciating pain! Woke up at 445 in morning. Nothing is working to help. It’s on my left side. I don’t know if a rib is out of place but it hurts to breathe so bad. I’m trying not to cry and get overwhelmed but it’s very difficult right now. I’m a massage therapist. I have put heat on my back which I’m doing now. Tried massaging my ribs and side with a back knobber. Any movements make it worse. I feel like I need to go to doctor I don’t think I can work like this it’s not going away. It’s been on and off for a week now but it’s the worst it’s been right now. 32 weeks 6 days pregnant.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. Im 32weeks 3days and for the last almost 2 weeks ive been in the worst pain in my ribs on my right sode its like a crunching burning ripping pain. It started off as being okay i could still sit and stand and move around normally but now laying sitting standing couching peeing showering everything you name it is painfull ive apent many nights in tears and i just sont know what to do but i just cant handle it anymore :'(

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. Hi i am 24+ weeks pregnant and for the past week i have been experiecing really sevre pain in my right rib under my breast like its bruised badly n i find it hard to sit up, sit down & sleeping at night is really uncomfortable to the point were i have been in tears a few tines with it.. does anyone know of anything i can do or tell me it eases of? I cant stand the pain anymore

  22. I am 35 weeks pregnant and every since I work up this morning until tonight my right side of my ribs all the way around to my back keeps getting this sharp pain and it hurts very bad. Is this normal ?

  23. Same here. Under right rib feels bloated and pain intolerable. Aggravated by eating sitting standing and walking. I need to lay on my right side using heating pads. Started week 20 with this pregnancy and week 6 in my last. Labs alllllll normal. So frustrating. Theory– liver / hormones (bec clearly at 6 weeks it wasn’t the baby). Totally goes away after delivery. Thoraconeuralgia Gravidarum was diagnosis.

  24. I’m 37 weeks pregnant and having severe rib pain on both sides. This has been going on for 6 hours and it won’t stop. Does anybody know of anything to help relieve the pain?? Plus, it is really making me nauseous. Thank you.

  25. I am 26 weeks and suffer extreme in the centre of my ribcage. Feels like stabbing pain. I get it from eating solids, sitting, lying down, walking… It’s pretty much unpredictable. At times I can tolerate liquids (water, clear soup) but sometimes not. I was in hospital for a week as doctor’s tried to find out what was wrong. Enodscopy and MRI was conducted but everything was normal, bloods were normal. The docs did find an extended bowel, but had no real concerns about this. Opting instead to diagnose it as pregnancy related, with the uterus pressing against my small bowel. I’ve been sent home now for 4 days to manage the pain myself. I’m on regular panamax (every 6 hours) and take endone when pain goes beyond 6/10. Currently this is occuring around 3-4 times a day. I’m struggling with food- managing only Resource Fruit drink, clear soup and a weak sustagen shake. My obstetrician said it’s likely going to get worse, as bubba grows so we are scheduling an early C-section. Which means I have 11 more weeks until I hopefully can get some much needed relief.

  26. the last time I had rib pain I had a 9 lb baby which was my first pregnancy…this is my third (& last lol) pregnancy & that pain is back…i found laying on the opposite side,hot showers & baths were the only things that helped relieved my pain…less than 5 weeks to go & it will all be over

  27. I read through most of these comments they made me laugh and noticed that most pregnant women have to go through on these things which are really painful.

    A blessing indeed so exciting
    first time mom 🙂

  28. I am 36 weeks and i have had rib pain but last night i was sleeping and i feel like she broke my rib. I need to cough and i feel like i am dieing it hurts so bad what do i do

    1. I’d get it checked out, it’s likely normal (unfortunately) but always good to mention any strong pain. If your doctor or midwife says it’s normal, a good osteopath should be able to help you out x

  29. I’m 22 weeks pregant and I feel severe pain in my back and front ribs. Pain exist in right side only. I can’t sit or lay down in a comfortable way. Pains like hell.. We girls are sailing on same boat 🙂

  30. I’m 27weeks + 6 and have had this rib pain in the right side under my boob since, oh I don’t know, beginning of November? It’s now almost mid-Feb and it’s getting far worse. It started off only hurting if I walked around too much but now it’s when I sit, stand or lay down anywhere except in bed on my left side. It’s only better after a nights sleep and then it starts up again around 2pm, getting worse until bed. It went away for about a week in December or January and I thought it was gone forever but nope. In absolute agony every day to the point I broke down in tears last night. It feels like being stabbed with a blunt knife while being stung by a bee. Doctor said it’ll be fine once I give birth but I’ve already been through 3 months of this crap I don’t know if I can take another 3 months of it. Paracetamol doesn’t touch it and stretching either does nothing or makes it worse. I hate every minute of it 🙁

  31. HEATTTTTT PADS!!! I’m having the craziest rib pain while in bed I can’t sleep so I improvised! Grab some bounty paper towels like a whole bunch soak them, put them in the microwave for 1 min and 30 secs & put in 2 ziplock bags.. apply to where it hurts, over your clothes & with caution cause it’s gonna be really hot but it works!!!

  32. I am 25 weeks pregnant. I started having rib pains at 19 weeks. Havent been sleeping much then. Some nights I dont get any sleep at all. I go to the chiropractor. I use heat pads but it just relieve the pain for like an hour. I have scoliosis so I thought maybe it has to do with it. Someone help me am so tired (but am glad to know am not the only one)!

  33. I’m so glad I’m not alone.. I’ve tried everything and its so uncomfortable to sit, stand, or lay down.. Its mostly on my right side so that’s making me nervous, I have a drs appointment coming up soon so I’m going to say something then.. Reading all this really helped me feel like I’m not alone in this at least.. Thank you to the writer and the people who commented. 🙂

  34. I am 36 weeks and the pain started right before my third trimester. It is a sharp burning ache in my right side, sometimes in my front ribs and sometimes in the back. It also tingles occasionally. My OB says it is my uterus pushing a nerve and it’s getting worse because my uterus is growing. I have been managing the pain by laying on a heating pad after work. A few days ago I realized my back has a redish purple net like color. Apparently this is from using heat too frequently. My OB never warned me of this happening. Now I’m not using it at all and am having a really hard time managing the pain. She says it is common and unfortunately untreatable. She also said that it could last a few weeks after giving birth. I’m hoping this isn’t the case. Hang in there ladies. It’s all worth it.

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