What To Know About Rib Pain During Pregnancy

What To Know About Rib Pain During Pregnancy

Your pregnancy week by week

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: 📝

  • The causes of right side 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?

The causes of right side rib pain during pregnancy

Rib pain during pregnancy might be caused by:

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 rib pain, often in the upper right abdomen.

Urinary tract infections

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

This can often feel like rib pain.

Be sure to see your doctor if you feel a burning sensation when you pee.

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


The pregnancy hormone relaxin, which helps the muscles in your body get ready for birth, can make you feel achy, too.

Relaxin causes heartburn, which can in turn cause pain around your pelvis and under your ribs.

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 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:

  • Visit a chiropractor. They’ll help treat the discomforts caused by the changes your skeletal system is going through. They may also advise you on exercises and changes to your posture that will help you manage the next chapter.
  • 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 kung fu.

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

🤰 More from The 411:
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What to Know About Sleeping on Your Back While Pregnant
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SPD in Pregnancy: Key Info
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How to Take Care of Yourself During Pregnancy
Can You Use a Massage Chair During Pregnancy?
Exercise During Pregnancy: 8 Helpful Tips
What’s the Best Prenatal Workout?
What to Know About Running While Pregnant
Throwing Up Blood While Pregnant? What to Know
What is Cholestasis of Pregnancy?
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