A pregnant lady during her pregnancy experiences various modifications in her body due to the growing fetus and hormonal changes. With these modifications/changes occurring in the body, she starts suffering from various pains in the hip, back, and even in the rib. Rib pain during pregnancy is experienced mainly because of the growing fetus and the tiny kicks inside the womb by the little fella. In most cases, this rib pain is quite normal and often does not lead to any complications, but in some instances where the pain occurs at the right side of the rib, it may lead to some complications. In such cases consulting a doctor is recommended.

What is Rib Pain, and Is it Common During Pregnancy:

The human body has 24 rib bones 12 on each side of the body. The function of these ribs is to protect the organs lying beneath the ribs. If any of these organs swell or infected or inflamed or if there is a crack in the ribs, the person starts feeling the pain in the ribs. During pregnancy, the fetus begins growing from the end of the 2nd trimester. The pressure on the ribs also increases, leading to rib pain, and this pain is quite normal in most of the cases during pregnancy. Usually, this pain starts when the baby inside aligns with a particular position. This often happens during the 26th week of pregnancy.

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Causes of Rib Pain During Pregnancy:

Rib pain in pregnant women generally starts at the end of the second trimester. This pain can be experienced on both sides of the rib cage. If the pain occurs on the left side, this is because of the growing uterus, and if the pain is on the right side, the reasons are many. Some of the causes for the rib pain are listed below.

1. Pressure From the Fetus:

The fetus starts growing during the 2nd trimester, and the uterus expands upwards to accommodate the baby present inside. Due to this expansion, the pressure on the left ribs starts increasing, leading to the rib pain.

2. Relaxin:

It is a hormone released during pregnancy. The word itself states that this hormone relaxes the muscles and tissues that connect your bones in the body. This hormone also relaxes the pelvic ligaments and pelvis to spread wide open for smooth delivery. In a few cases, the muscles and ligaments around the rib also get relaxed, and when the weight of the body grows, the pressure on the ribs may also increase, leading to rib pain.

3. Heartburn:

Relaxin also relaxes the part of the esophagus. This is the main reason pregnant ladies experience heartburn during pregnancy. The heartburn may sometimes lead to rib pain.

4. Gallstones:

During pregnancy, the estrogen levels in the body increases, which leads to slower emptying of the gall bladder. This, in turn, causes gallstones in the bladder. Usually, the pain due to gallstones is mild, but in some cases, pain starts in the upper portion of the right abdomen leading to rib pain.

5. Round ligament Pain:

Round ligaments are fibrous tissue cords that connect the uterus to the groin area. As the uterus enlarges, it puts pressure on these ligaments, which in turn cause sharp pain while walking or moving.

6. Urinary Tract Infection:

During pregnancy, women are at a higher risk of developing urinary tract infections. Due to this, it becomes difficult to empty the bladder. The growing fetus, along with the unemptied bladder, puts more pressure on the ribs than usual, causing severe rib pain. Moreover, the UTI can cause pain in the kidneys, which may lead to rib pain.

7. Tumors:

Some studies revealed that pregnancy might promote the growth of the liver who have cancer. The increase of the liver corresponds to the formation of a tumor on the liver. This tumor exerts pressure on the rib causing rib pain.

8. Other Complications:

Other complications that may cause rib pain are preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. These complications cause pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, usually referred to as liver pain. Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome are life-threatening complications, and it requires immediate medical attention. If you experience pain under the right side of the rib cage during pregnancy, diagnose immediately for preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome or liver cancer.

See More: Heartburn During Pregnancy

Prevention of Rib Pain During Pregnancy:

We have a beautiful proverb saying Prevention is better than cure. We have seen the causes of rib pain while pregnant, preventing rib pain can be achieved by avoiding the causes of the pain.

  • Regular exercising during pregnancy can help the proper placement of the baby inside the womb that may decrease the pressure on the sore ribs.
  • Keep a check on the weight gain for every 15 days as we know that the relaxin hormone relaxes the muscles and tendons in the body. Excess weight gain may increase the pressure on the ribs.
  • Always consume a healthy diet to prevent the formation of gallstones.
  • Use pillows for support while sleeping. Special U shaped, and C shaped pregnancy pillows are available in the market that can be used while sleeping.

Home Remedies for Rib Pain During Pregnancy:

Every pain in the body has some remedy to get healed. Same is the case with rib pain; here are some of the home remedies that can be tried.

1. Massage:

For any pain massaging is the best remedy or treatment that can be done. Massage the portion with warm oil or doctor prescribed ointment to relieve from the rib pain.

2. Warm Water and Compress:

Warm water is used to increase the temperature that can treat rib pain. With the increase in the temperature, blood flow also increases near the rib cage. Warmth can help lessen joint stiffness and muscle spasms. A homemade compress can be done by soaking a clean towel in hot water and massaging this soaked towel near the rib cage for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you do not apply this compressor on the stomach. Taking a bath in warm water also eases the rib pains. Consider adding Epsom salts to the warm water to release the tightened muscles.

3. Chiropractor Advice:

Talk to a chiropractor, the one who is well known for the joint pains during pregnancy. Depending on the position of your body, type, and intensity of the pain, they may suggest some exercises and postural changes that can relive the rib pain.

4. Exercise Balls:

Doing exercises with the ball can stretch the muscles near the rib cage, which in turn relieves the pain. Slope against the ball and perform a few rolls to stretch the rib muscles. Make sure that you perform these rolls correctly.

5. Yoga and Exercising:

This is one of the best forms of exercise for any kind of pain. Yoga is not only beneficial for pregnant women but everyone. Scientifically, it is proved that doing yoga stretching helps loosen the muscles that can alleviate the aches, pains in the back, or rib cage. Similarly, exercising regularly can also give relief from rib pain.

6. Adjust the Posture:

During the later stages of the pregnancy, it will be difficult for the pregnant lady to bear the weight of the body. She tends to droop or bend all the time. Because of this, the pain in the ribs may increase. Hence, keep the body upright and lean back while sitting.

Tips for Relief of Rib Pain During Pregnancy:

Apart from the home remedies, the pregnant lady can prevent rib pain by following specific tips.

  • Always wear loose clothing during pregnancy. Tight clothes may exert pressure on the body, which may lead to rib pain.
  • Use a U shaped or C shaped pregnancy pillow while sleeping. This helps in the proper posture of the body during sleep.
  • Try to sleep frequently on the left side of the body with supporting pillows to prevent rib pain.
  • Sleep on the air mattress. Studies proved that sleeping on the air mattress gives you relief from the rib pain.
  • Using ice packs can also give relief from the ribs hurt for one day.

When to Consult a Doctor:

The rib pain during pregnancy is quite common, and it is not required to worry much about this. Usually, this pain gets healed soon after the delivery. If the pain is experienced on the left side of the body, then it is not much of a worry, but if the pain is on the right side of the body, there might be many reasons for this. The pain may be due to gallstones or liver cancer or preeclampsia or sometimes HELLP syndrome. In such cases, consult a doctor immediately for treatment.

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Like many other pains, rib pain is normal and is not of a big concern in most cases. Rib pain may be due to the tiny kicks of the little baby present inside the womb. This pain can be prevented by following the tips mentioned above. Moreover, the home remedies, as listed above, also give you relief from rib pain. But, if you experience severe pain under the right side of the rib cage, it is better to consult a doctor to prevent any complications.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are just suggestions, and the website is no way responsible for the side effects it may cause. It is better to consult a doctor before you plan anything, especially when you are pregnant.

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers:

Q1. Is rib pain a sign of pregnancy?

Ans: Rib pain is caused because of the pressure exerted on the rib cage. This pressure may be due to the swelling or infections or inflammations of the organs present under the rib cage. Rib pain is not a sign of pregnancy because, in pregnant women, this pain starts during the beginning of the 3rd trimester.

Q2. Can rib pain lead to any serious complications during pregnancy?

Ans: In most of the cases, rib pain is normal if it occurs on the left side of the body. But, if you experience it on the right side of the body, there may be chances of some serious complications. In such cases, consult a doctor for further diagnosis.


About Yashasvi

Yashasvi developed a deep passion for writing ever since she was completed her Master’s in Mass Communication and Journalism from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam and has chosen a career that is driven by creativity. A Parenting expert who believes in communicating effectively with a personal touch, she writes about pregnancy, baby care, lifestyle, and just about anything else.