Feeling your sweet baby kick for the first time is an exciting moment for a mom-to-be. However, when your baby grows and becomes cramped, you may notice those kicks in other places, such as your rib cage. Definitely not as cute. But, rest assured, rib pain is common, especially during the third trimester when your baby has limited space. For example, if your baby is head down, you may feel your baby's feet kick or stretch out behind your ribs. While there may not be ways to prevent rib pain altogether during pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the pain and help the baby move out of your rib cage.
Is it normal for your ribs to hurt during pregnancy?
Rib pain during pregnancy is very common, especially during the third trimester when the location of the uterus is stretched above the belly button. Some factors, such as larger baby size, may contribute to experiencing rib pain earlier in pregnancy.
What causes rib pain during pregnancy?
Changes in hormones
During pregnancy, your body creates a hormone called Relaxin, which is a reproductive hormone that your ovaries and placenta produce. Relaxin loosens your ligaments and muscles to help your body accommodate your growing uterus. In addition, Relaxin may aid in expanding the rib cage to help make room for your growing belly.
During pregnancy, you may experience inflammation caused by the cartilage, which attaches the ribs to the sternum. Costochondritis commonly occurs later in pregnancy, usually during the third trimester.
As your baby grows, so does your uterus. As your internal organs adjust to the squished space, so does your rib cage. The pressure of your uterus against your rib cage may cause chest and rib pain.
Those baby kicks may remind you that your baby is healthy and moving around. However, some kicks may cause rib pain, especially if they kick you in the rib cage.
Heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion
The added pressure on your uterus against your stomach may cause heartburn or indigestion. In addition, the hormone Relaxin causes the muscle in your esophagus to relax, which contributes to heartburn or indigestion. This chest pain may be mistaken for rib pain.
How does rib pain change throughout pregnancy?
Throughout the first trimester, it is not common to experience rib pain. This is because, by the end of your first trimester, the uterus only grows to the size of a grapefruit. The uterus is located deep into your pelvis and extends toward your ribs and outward. Because of the size, your uterus is unlikely to reach your ribcage and cause any pain.
By around 20 weeks, the uterus reaches just the height of your belly button. By the end of your second trimester, your uterus grows to the size of a papaya. During this time, you may notice some rib pain and shortness of breath because your uterus is reaching your diaphragm, which may cause crowding by your lungs.
By the end of your third trimester, your uterus becomes the size of a watermelon. One could only imagine the pressure a watermelon would put on your ribs and surrounding organs. In addition to the pressure against your rib cage, the baby may practice their kicks and kick or jab into your ribs.
To prepare for birth, your baby should descend into your pelvis, which may alleviate pressure and pain in your ribcage.
How can I alleviate rib pain while pregnant?
Wear comfortable and loose clothing
Maternity clothing is explicitly designed to allow for a proper fit and support. Wearing a tight-fitted shirt may add to your rib pain and not allow for adequate blood circulation and airflow.
Wear a belly band
Belly Bandit® designed the 2-in-1 Hip Bandit™ band to lift your belly gently to reduce the pressure on your pelvis. As your pregnancy progresses, the baby's weight may cause pelvic pain and back aches. This wrap evenly distributes that weight to support your back and lessen the strain on your body.
Take a warm bath
Baths are very beneficial during pregnancy. A warm bath aids in relief from sore muscles and pains, including rib pain. Bath water should not exceed 98 degrees Fahrenheit. A bath that is too warm may reduce blood flow to the baby, which may lead to stress for the baby.
Try different positions
As you get farther into your pregnancy, you may find it more challenging to get comfortable. Sometimes changing your position or going for a walk may help the baby move their feet away from the ribcage. Other activities to try include:
- Prenatal Yoga
- Practicing Pelvic Tilts
- Bouncing on a pregnancy ball
When to see a doctor
If you have tried the tips and tricks listed above and still experience rib pain, contacting your care provider may be a good idea. Another concern to look out for is rib pain localized to the right side of the body. Pain in this region may be a symptom of hypertension or preeclampsia.
Shop Belly Bandit
It may be surprising to know that belly bands have been around since the 1800s. However, in the 1800s, they wore corsets during pregnancy so women could hide their pregnancy for as long as possible. Belly Bandit® was founded in 2008 by three sisters. These sisterpreneurs revolutionized maternity products by offering the first-ever doctor-recommended post pregnancy compression wrap. Since then, Belly Bandit® launched maternity products, such as maternity belly support wraps, nursing bras, postpartum leggings, underwear and heating patches. As a woman-owned business, Belly Bandit® ensures that you have all the maternity needs covered to help you have a comfortable and supportive pregnancy.