Sore Ribs During Pregnancy – Relief for Rib Pain While Pregnant

In the third trimester of pregnancy (for some women a little earlier) you may experience sore or painful ribs, which can range from mild discomfort to extremely sore. The pain and soreness is caused by pressure from the top of your growing uterus, as well as baby kicking or punching the area. Sore ribs are usually on the side of the baby’s position and can be felt 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), then baby drops into your pelvic cavity in preparation for birth. This usually provides some much appreciated relief! But until then, the discomfort usually continues.

What Can I Do To Help Relieve The Discomfort of Sore Ribs During Pregnancy?

While there is not much you can do to stop or fix 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. Remember, being pregnant you cannot take anti-inflammatories, so steer clear of any medications, especially without medical advice. For unbearable pain, you can see your doctor or midwife about taking panadeine or panadeine forte, but still avoid all medicines where possible, as codeine can cause constipation when you are already prone to it being pregnant.

Tips For Sore Ribs 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 – get up and take regular stretch breaks or short walks
  • Heat packs or cold packs – whatever works best for you
  • A nice hot shower (be sensible with this one – not too hot!)
  • Exercises that help you stretch out and support your body, like swimming
  • Stretch! Here is a really effective exercise from midwife, Alan Rooney:

“Stand facing a wall. With your feet 40cms 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 huge temporary relief, especially if the pain is caused by a breech baby’s hard little head wedged under your ribs.”

Its also a great idea to take a trip to a health practitioner if you haven’t already. An osteopath (ideally one who does cranio sacral work, which is great in pregnancy and with newborns), acupuncturist, chiropractor – depending on what you prefer – can help and see how your body is going and pick up any potential areas which may be a problem – even contributing to your aches and pains if something is out of whack elsewhere.

What Can Stop The Pain Of Sore Ribs 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 birth. As soon as my gorgeous girl was born, it completely disappeared.

Last Updated: February 23, 2015


Kelly Winder is the creator of, a doula, writer and mother to three awesome children. Currently she's travelling the world for 12 months with her partner and three children, and hopes to inspire more families to do the same.

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