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Rib Pain During Pregnancy

Aastha Dogra Apr 23, 2019
Rib pain during pregnancy can be very annoying and discomforting for a woman. Read on to know the causes as well as remedies to minimize this condition.
Pregnancy, though a very joyful time in a woman's and her family's life, brings with it, its own share of symptoms which can be quite uncomfortable for a woman.
The most common symptoms that are experienced by a majority of women are morning sickness, nausea, fatigue, food cravings and aversions, breast tenderness, headache, backache, and frequent urination. Rib pain, especially in the last trimester, is experienced by many women, too.

Causes of Rib Pain During Pregnancy

  • Growing Uterus
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Heavy Breasts
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Infection in the Urinary Tract
  • Referred Pain from Diaphragm

Growing Uterus

The main cause of rib pain during pregnancy is the expansion of the uterus, which takes place when the baby grows. The growing uterus puts pressure on the woman's ribs, resulting in rib pain.
Due to the increase in the size of the uterus, the intercostal muscles, i.e., the muscles between the ribs may become strained, causing difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath in many pregnant women. Women who are carrying large babies, or who have short waists, also face the risk of a fracture in the ribs during pregnancy.

Hormonal Changes

Rib pain during pregnancy could be due to hormonal changes like increased levels of progesterone. When progesterone levels rise, the ligaments and muscles around the pelvic area and spine stretch and become soft to prepare for the delivery. This causes a strain in the back as well as pain in the ribs. This happens mostly in the final trimesters of pregnancy.

Heavy Breasts

During pregnancy, the breasts of a woman tend to grow, almost a full cup size more and become heavy. Weighty breasts put extra pressure on the shoulders, upper back, as well as the rib cage of the pregnant woman, resulting in pain in all these body parts.

Stress and Anxiety

During pregnancy, many women suffer from stress and anxiety, which may produce symptoms, such as difficulty in breathing, back pain, shoulder pain, and even rib pain.

Infection in the Urinary Tract

The pain could be due to a urinary tract infection, and especially if along with rib pain, a woman experiences symptoms, such as difficulty in urination, pain or a burning sensation during urination as well as kidney discomfort.

Referred Pain from Diaphragm

When the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the diaphragm, causing difficulty in breathing. In the diaphragm, there are many nerves, which can cause pain in the ribs and shoulders of the pregnant woman.


Upon experiencing rib pain, it's always better to contact your doctor. Doctors generally prescribe painkillers, such as tylenol, or acetaminophen, which are safe during pregnancy for pain relief. Along with the medication, you can follow the remedies given below to get relief from rib pain.

Home Remedies

  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes; instead, wear loose clothes so as to remain comfortable.
  • Wearing a correct size supportive bra will reduce the pressure caused from heavy breasts, minimizing rib pain.
  • Doing pregnancy exercises, yoga, and breathing exercises, reduces both stress and the pain considerably.
  • Sitting and sleeping in the right position is equally important. While sitting, the pregnant woman should sit straight and avoid slouching. Using a small pillow to create the perfect arch behind the back will minimize pain.
  • Sleeping on the side, where pain is experienced, will help in reducing the rib pain as well.
  • A pregnant lady should never sit for long hours; she should stretch or take short walks in between.
  • A nice hot shower, but not very hot, also helps when a pregnant lady is having rib pain.
  • Gentle massage over the area can relax the muscles and make you free from rib pain.
  • Placing ice packs on painful ribs, and raising the arms over the head while doing that, helps in relieving pain.

Pregnancy Products

These pregnancy products are easily available in the market, and will help in reducing rib pain and support your belly and your back. They provide so much comfort that we are sure you will take it everywhere you go.
  • Body Pillow
  • Belly Bra
  • Belly Support Pillow
  • Belly Support Brace
  • Wedge Belly Pillow
  • Lumbar Seat Pillow
  • Lumbar Support Brace
  • Sacroiliac Belt
Rib pain during pregnancy is nothing to get worried about. With the right medication, and the mentioned home remedies it can be easily brought under control. You will forget all the pain that you have suffered in your pregnancy, once you get to see the sight of your baby!
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.