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Rib Pain during Pregnancy
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Pregnancy & Childbirth >
Rib Pain during Pregnancy
I wonder if anyone else has had this problem. I'm currently 37
weeks pregnant, and ever since Month 7, I've had terrible pain
right on my bra strap line where my breasts meet my ribcage.
Right now there's a lot of weight there and not much room. My
breasts have gotten huge (I'm wearing an F cup now - yikes!), and
my uterus comes up to right below my breasts and is pushing on my
ribcage. I'm wearing a maternity bra that a professional fitter
picked out for me back when the pain started, and from what I can
tell, the bra fits correctly. But the pain doesn't go away, no
matter what I do. It's excrutiating to wear the bra, and it's
excrutiating to go without it. Also as the day goes on I get
severe pains in my right ribs. The only thing that seems to help
is lying on my left side. Other than that, I've resorted to
keeping an ice pack in my bra during the day, now that I'm not
going into my office anymore!
Has anyone else experienced this kind of pain, and if so, was
there anything you did that helped? I'm hoping that once the baby
drops or is born, the pain will go away, but I'm worried that if
my breasts stay this big, the pain is going to stay too. I guess
I can tough it out for 3 more weeks, but I can't imagine going
through a year of nursing like this. Help!
Counting down the days...
I recognize that! I had bad rib pain, starting around 35 weeks.
It was only bearable when I stayed in my sleeping bra and
pajamas all day--until I discovered wearing my nursing bra on the
widest setting. Maybe the band is too tight on your current
My pain diminished a LOT when the baby dropped out of my rib
cage, and was completely gone once she was born. Several months
later, my ribs have shrunk back most of the way to their
original place. Though I suspect that I'm still a bra band size
larger than I was pre-pregnancy.
As for large breasts--I've had those since puberty, and they
never hurt my ribcage when I was wearing a good bra. If the
weight of your breasts is making your bra hurt, you need a better
bra. Period. Pregnancy or no pregnancy
--glad the baby is out of my rib cage
I now have a 3 month old and experienced this for about the
entire third trimester and know two other women who experienced
it as well! I don't think I was overly endowed (size D during
pregnancy) but for awhile felt like the underwire was rubbing
it raw or something. I did ask my OB about it - I don't
remember her answer but I remember it was something I ruled out
eventually (and I had a great OB).
So I hope you get responses more definitive than this, but do
know that it caused absolutely no complications and passes with
birth (or maybe my mind is just on other things).
No More Ribpain
Pain on the right side of your body, around the shoulder or the
rib cage, during the last trimester can be a sign of preeclampsia
and can be very very serious!! Talk to your doctor
immediately!!!! Read more here:
ooh! I feel your pain- or rather, I felt it- About 7 months into my pregnancy
same thing happened- I ended up getting a large ace wrap, some paper tape, and
every night I would wrap it around my ribs and tape it on (I did not want to sleep
with those sharp things!)-
Labor was painful at that spot- I used one of those pillow things you heat in the
microwave and held it against that spot- It was ALL gone once my daughter was
born- turns out it was her foot that got stuck in between 2 ribs and it was not
to get unstuck until she got out!!
Good luck- hope you find some relief-
Yuck! I had the same thing (and the same jumbo sized breasts).
I found that spending an hour at the pool swimming really helped
because it was the one place that I was weightless and could
stretch out my muscles. Someone told me that your rib cage
actually expands to accommodate your larger pregnancy size -
makes sense to me, but boy does it hurt
Hang in there!
Sorry I can't offer any specific advice, but know that you're not alone! I could
written your post. I'm 36 weeks today and have had the same pain for some time.
This is my third pregnancy and I seem to recall experiencing something similar with
the earlier ones. The pain makes it v. hard to sleep well -- if at all! Like you,
I was fitted for a new bra, which I simply must wear. But even without (at night)
discomfort is still there to some degree. I keep thinking it must have something to
do with the uterus pushing internal organs around and this is putting pressure on
the rib cage/hitting nerves/?. My pain is most prevalent on the right side. At any
rate, if I recall correctly, this will resolve as soon as the baby is born, so hang
Pregnancy often causes rib cage problems like the one you're
having. Since your body is making relaxin to prepare for
delivery, all your ligaments are softer, and your ribs can be
pushed out of place by your baby kicking, the constant pressure
from your bra strap, or even just a brisk cough.
Having the ribs ''adjusted'' by a chiropractor is an easy and safe
way to try to solve this problem. I have had success with this on
many occasions, but not all. Because the relaxin is present for
another 6 months, this can be a difficult problem to treat, but
you will have better luck with a physical approach than a ''hands
If you are near downtown Berkeley, I specialize in caring for
pregnant and post-partum women.
Or you can find other family-oriented chiropractors at:
I am a Women's Health physical therapist with a specialty in pre
and postnatal women. Rib, breast, and mid-back pain are very
common in pregnancy due to postural & structural changes.
Factors like fluid retention, weight gain, hormonal changes,
enlarged breast mass, and postural dysfunction all play a role
in this discomfort. Slouching cramps the ribs and the rib
position also changes during pregnancy. Some of these
contributing factors can be addressed.
Feel free to contact me at my office if you would like to come
in for treatment. I have worked with many women throughout
their pregnancies. A combination of soft tissue work, gentle
mobilizations, postural training, Pilates, and
support/kinesiotape can be very effective.
I also had terrible rib and chest pain on the right side when I
was pregnant six years ago. My sense was that the pain was
caused mostly by my daughter pressing my diaphragm up against my
rib cage. I think my mother mentioned that I bruised her ribs
when she was pregnant with me. Anyhow, I am sorry I can't offer
any advice to make it better now, but I can say that it did get
better after I gave birth and things started moving back into
their normal places. I can't remember now how long it took,
but not too long. Good luck!
I had similar pain in my first pregnancy and we could never quite
figure out what it was. My OB suggested that my baby was pressing
against a nerve ganglion and the pain was referring to my back.
I was a student at Cal at the time, carrying a big backpack of
books, walking to and fro, etc. I would often get home, lay down
on the bed, and cry. It was awful. What helped was wearing tight
tank tops instead of bras; the bra band around my ribs put more
pressure on my back and made the pain worsen.
The joy was that immediately after birth, the pain disappeared.
Like less than 30 minutes later. It was amazing. I felt so good
postpartum! Hopefully you will have the same result. Good luck to
you and hang in there
Go see a chiropractor. You may have a separated rib (like my
friend did when she was pregnant) or another problem that a
chiro could easily help you with and relieve your pain
I had severe pain right around my breastbone/upper rib cage
(under the bra band) when I was pregnant with twins. I can't
remember exactly when it started, but I also had a professionally
fit bra and it still hurt like hell (it did help support my F
size boobs though!). For me, taking the bra off was the only
thing that helped with the pain; I even resorted to taking my bra
off at work a few times, when I was working on my own most of the
time. The pain lessened when I went braless, but not very
convenient. In any case, the pain did go away. My twins are six
months old now and I honestly can't remember when the pain
stopped (the first few months after the babies were born are a
fog to me...), but I'm sure that I did not have breastbone or rib
cage pain after the babies were born. In fact, I think it went
away before they were born.
Sorry I don't have much advice for how to deal with the pain, but
I can at least tell you that if it's anything like what I was
going through it will go away on its own.
been there too!
I had this problem during my twin pregnancy. Sometimes I could barely face getting
out of bed because it hurt so much to wear clothes. My doctor looked at me blankly.
My cousin, a breast cancer survivor who had had a lumpectomy told me to tear up an
old sheet (any soft thin cloth will do) and put it where it hurt between me and my
It worked like a charm, immediately
I am 27 weeks pregnant. For past one week, I have been having
rib pain - especially by the evenign everyday. It initially
started in the center - just below breasts. Theextended towards
the left side and now even to the right side. My OB told me its
becasue of the growing baby - as ribs are being pushed. I was
told to have pain killers if it gets uncomfortable. Has anyone
experienced such problems? I want to avoid painkillers as much
as I can. Thanks for your advice!
Oh yeah, I totally know about this! I'm the person who posted about mid-
back pain on the last Advice newsletter. My pain is also in the front, in
the center/left, right under the breasts. My OB has prescribed physical
therapy which I just started this week. (She had this kind of pain with one
of her pregnancies and was aided by PT.) The therapist says because of
the prolactin and moving organs, a rib has been moved out of place and
needs to be moved back. Since I'm preggers, he can't simply whack it
back in as he can for non-preg people. So, massage and water therapy
is the plan. My advice, get thee to a PT (hopefully your insurance will
cover it; your doctor can prescribe it as a medical necessity). I'm going to
Physical Therapy Innovations in Albany, and seeing Allan Ling). Good
Rib pain is common during pregnancy. There are rib belts you
can get through a medical supplier to help support the area (re-
imbursable through most insurance companies if your doctor
writes the prescription--if you would like a reference just drop
me an e-mail). But your OB is right about the ribs rotating and
expanding to the side to accommodate the growing baby. There are
some Yoga postures and breath work you can do as well as pilates
breath work and strengthening to help to support the ribs. Seek
out a class close to you that deals with pre-natal post partum
stuff. There are lots of listings on BPN site. Your body is
constantly changing now...every day! And every day your
muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones have to try to accommodate
to the changes. Take good care of yourself.
Kelli Manring, PT, MSPT
Doula, Pilates Instructor
It could likely be the babies position and also that your belly
is stretching and your ribs are also trying to stretch. There
are muscles between each rib called ''intercostals''. You likely
have tight intercostals, at least in that area.
You might try getting a massage with someone who can gently get
inbetween the ribs and help loosen those muscles a bit. It
shouldn't take much. Also some breathing exercises that expand
the ribcage could be helpful.
I am a massage therapist with an office in Berkeley. I have
experience working with pregnant women and also many injuries
and chronic problems. I'd be happy to see you, or give you
referrals. e-mail me if you're interested, and good luck finding
Sudha - It sounds like this is what I had w/ both my
pregnancies, so I can at least empathize! The only solution the
doc's really offered was vicodin. I tried to avoid it but did
take a couple of tabs in each pregnancy. Things that helped
most were hanging out in a hot tub (at about 99 degrees) or warm
pool, sleeping and sitting in a recliner (i bought the recliner
when the pain started in the 2nd pregnancy - it was soooo worth
it!)(1st pregnancy i slept on a futon, as a couch, so it
supported my back when i was on my side), and resting as much as
possible. i also wore a back support belt and took lots of
tylenol. I'm happy to talk to you more about this by email or
phone, if to offer moral support if nothing else! it know it's
I had rib pain with both of my pregnancies, but it was never so
bad that I felt I needed painkillers. It helped to pay more
attention to my posture, especially when sitting at my computer
for long periods, and to stretch often.
I am several months pregnant and am having intense pain on my
right side -- at about where my bra fastens across my body. The
pain seems to be in my ribs, though there is also back pain as
well. It is quite debilitating and is not the usual lower
back/mid-back pain one gets during pregnancy. It's not my
gallbladder, and it's not a kidney infection (two things my
doctor thought it was, but has now ruled out). I also tried one
of those belly slings, but that only made things worse. My
doctor can't figure out what is going on and has encouraged me
to take pain killers, which I really don't want to do, even
though he says they will be safe for the baby. Has anyone out
there experienced something similar? This is very frustrating --
and depressing -- because the pain is unbelievable -- I cry
almost daily with it. I can't really concentrate or do anything
but lie in a certain position to get relief. I'd love to know
what is going on. I'm on Kaiser, and my doctor refuses to refer
me to physical therapy or to a physiatrist. I feel if I could
go to him with a possible diagnosis, I might get somewhere.
Thanks so much --
Mom in Pain
I know you said this doctor has ruled out gallstones...but your
pain sounds so exactly like my gallstone pain that I must
encourage you to get a second opinion. The pain was incredible,
just as you describe, and right where you said it was. Anyhow, if
the doc at Kaiser is giving you trouble about referrals, just go
to the emergency room when the pain is bad and you feel like you
can't move. I did. You really must get attention, and you will
find supportive, caring people there.
in response to your rib/back pain complaints, i am writing to you as
someone who experienced the same exact pain around the ribs and as
a chiropractor who takes care of this sort of issue regularly- i don't blame
you for not wanting to take pain killers; that outraged me!
you are experiencing this pain because your rib cage is increasing in
width, accomodating for the baby-with this increase in diameter,the
nerves within this area are being stretched- this is why you are feeling
the way you are-
what i did while i was pregnant and recommend to my current prenatal
patients is: regular chiropractic care, massage and a combo of yoga
and pilates to increase the room in the torso-that really seems to take
the edge off of the pain and promotes the much needed relaxation!
i would be more than happy to talk about this further with you or
recommend a chiropractor close by to you who could help you-
this page was last updated: Nov 11, 2007
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