What To Know About Rib Pain During Pregnancy

What To Know About Rib Pain During Pregnancy

Rib pain during pregnancy is common, mama, especially as your pregnancy progresses and your baby gets bigger.

(That being said, you might experience it quite early on as well.)

You’ve probably never really noticed your ribs before.

They’ve just kind of been there, protecting various organs and helping you breathe.

And then, you get pregnant.

Now, thanks to your rib pain, you know all about this beautiful bony cage.

Most of the time, the cause of your pain is harmless, but there are some rare complications that you should be aware of.

Let’s find out more.

In this article: 📝

  • What are the causes of rib pain during pregnancy?
  • How do I know if my rib pain is preeclampsia?
  • How to sleep with rib pain during pregnancy
  • How do you relieve rib pain during pregnancy?

What are the causes of rib pain during pregnancy?

Rib pain in pregnancy can be a real pain in the… well, ribs.

But why does it happen?

Well, there are a few causes of left- or right-side rib pain during pregnancy, so let’s dive right in.

The position of your baby

Usually, towards the end of the second trimester, your baby starts to change position so that their head is upside down.

And you know what this means?

Regular kicks to the ribs.


During pregnancy, higher levels of estrogen (and the fact that the body finds it more difficult to empty the gallbladder) can put you at higher risk of developing gallstones.

One study suggests that nearly 8% of women form new gallstones by their third trimester, though only 1% develop symptoms.

Those who do experience symptoms often feel pain near their ribs in the right upper abdomen.

Urinary tract infections

You’re more susceptible to urinary tract infections when you’re pregnant, which can cause kidney pain, or a more serious kidney infection, pyelonephritis, if left untreated.

This may feel like rib pain but is often felt in your mid-back.

Be sure to see your doctor if you feel a burning sensation when you pee, as this can be a symptom of a UTI.

Other signs? You might be peeing more frequently, experience a fever or chills, or experience pain in your bladder or kidneys.

How do I know if my rib pain is preeclampsia?

Pain in the upper right abdomen might also be a sign of more serious conditions, such as liver disease, preeclampsia, and HELLP syndrome.

These can put you and your baby at severe risk.

They aren’t common, and there are many other reasons that are more likely to explain your rib pain.

Don’t Google yourself into a frenzy, mama.

Just be aware that if you do experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor straight away:

  • Sudden and severe rib pain on your right side, combined with high blood pressure
  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe heartburn
  • Swelling in your hands and face
  • Spots or floaters in your vision.

How to sleep with rib pain during pregnancy

If you’re experiencing rib pain when you sleep, try to give your body and your growing belly as much support as possible.

If you can, sleep on your left-hand side, as this is better for your body’s blood flow.

You might also want to prop yourself up with a pregnancy pillow.

And if you’re wondering how to help rib pain during pregnancy while you’re awake, we’ve got you covered.

How do you relieve rib pain during pregnancy?

Looking for ways to ease the aches, mama?

Here’s how to relieve rib pain during pregnancy:

  • Drape your back over an exercise ball and roll back and forth
  • Do gentle exercises, like yoga or lots of stretching, to help loosen your muscles
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes or a belly-support band
  • Change your position in an effort to change your baby’s position

Mild rib pain is totally normal, mama, and if you’re not experiencing it with other painful or unusual symptoms, it’s likely that your baby’s just doing some in utero gymnastics.

But if you do have other symptoms, give your doctor a call to chat through them, just to be safe.


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