Rib Pain During Pregnancy—Is It A Cause For Concern?

Pregnancy is a wonderful journey that a mother-to-be and the baby embark on together.  During this phase, your body expands to make space for the growing baby, triggering major bodily changes and causing discomfort. As your organs get pushed by the growing uterus, you may experience rib pain during pregnancy.

Many pregnant women who experience rib pain for the first time become anxious and worry if it could be an indication of risk or a sign of any abnormality. If you too are one of them, then be rest assured pregnancy rib pain is quite common and there is nothing to worry about. Here is all you need to know about rib pain during pregnancy.

What Causes Rib Cage Pain During Pregnancy?

Pain in the lower back and rib pain during pregnancy is quite normal as well as common. The main causes of rib pain during pregnancy are:

Expanding Uterus

Your baby is growing and that means your uterus needs more space. The expanding uterus slowly pushes all the surrounding organs outwards, exerting pressure upon the muscles in this area. This results in aches in this area. Sometimes, pregnant women also feel shortness of breath because of this extra pressure.

Bigger Breasts

During pregnancy, breasts become bigger in preparation for breastfeeding after childbirth. This increase in breast size pulls your shoulders forward, thus straining your back. As a result, you may experience pain around your ribs.

Hormonal Changes

One of the pregnancy hormones, Relaxin, makes the rib cage expand so that there is space for your growing uterus. But this can result in left or right-side rib pain.

Baby’s Movements

As the baby grows bigger, it becomes more and more active. You can expect more rolling-over sessions, kicks, and punches. Sometimes, a strong kick or punch from the baby can trigger terrible rib pain for the mom-to-be.

When Do You Experience Rib Pain During Pregnancy?

While it is more common in the third trimester of pregnancy, some may experience rib pain during early pregnancy. It may get triggered by the upward-moving uterus during the second trimester. Another reason for pain in the ribs during pregnancy second trimester is that the foetus now changes position and rests head down, feet up. This position exerts extra pressure against the ribs and when the baby moves, the pressure increases. This can cause persistent dull aches along the ribs.

Another common cause of pain in the ribs during pregnancy’s second trimester is round ligament pain. These ligaments are the tissue cords joining the groin to the front of the uterus. Starting the second trimester, the growing baby puts pressure on these ligaments. It may appear as a sharp pain when you move or as persistent rib pain.

Left or right left rib pain during pregnancy third trimester can arise from your baby’s kicks directed at either side at this stage. Remember, it is normal to feel pain in the lumbar and pelvic region during the third trimester, and about 86% of pregnant women experience it.

During the different trimesters, there are different reasons why your ribs and back hurt. However, if you have rib pains before your 12-week mark, you should mention them to your doctor immediately and seek advice.

What Kind of Rib Cage Pain You Can Expect During Pregnancy?

You may experience rib cage pain on either side or even at the back during pregnancy. Left or right-side rib pain can occur based on your baby’s position and where pressure is exerted when they move inside your body.

Right rib pain is more common when a change called rib flaring takes place. The ascending uterus in the last stage of pregnancy pushes the diaphragm a bit too much. This pushes the rib cage out both to the side and to the front during the third trimester. This is known as rib flaring and often it manifests as an ache in the front lower part of the ribs as pain in the right ribs during pregnancy.

Addressing Rib Pain During Pregnancy

You do not need to suffer pain during pregnancy in silence. Here are tips you can use to alleviate the discomfort.

  • Learn the right posture and train your body to sit, stand, and sleep in the correct position.
  • Use a supportive bra that gives you the right fit and form to help bear the weight of your enlarged breasts.
  • Heating pads over your ribs can help relax the muscles and ease the pain.
  • Learn the right exercises and do them diligently with the doctor’s advice. Working out with an exercise ball can bring you great relief from rib and back pain.
  • Take care of your weight and ensure you do not put on excessive kilos that can place extra pressure on your whole body and muscular structure.


Rib pain during pregnancy could be normal but it can still affect your daily life and your ability to sleep well. Taking the right steps to keep the right posture can ensure that the pain never develops or if it does, it is mild and manageable. Avoid taking pain medication without your doctor’s advice. Instead, use safer remedies such as heating pads or support pillows to reduce the pain.