When you are pregnant, your body is going through a lot of changes. It comes with a change in posture that can result in low back and hip pain. The weight gain and change in distribution can lead to pain and tension in the shoulders and legs. And it is also common to experience pregnancy rib pain. Not all women will have this but it can be a debilitating pain, if you experience it.

Causes of Pregnancy Rib Pain:

The most common cause is the growing uterus. The uterus pushes up beneath the ribs which can make the muscles around the rib cage can get strained as the uterus grows. A breach baby can also put extra pressure on the rib cage. However, pregnancy rib pain can also be caused by the following lesser known causes.

  1. Increased breast size: As the breasts become larger, they can change your posture and put more weight on your rib cage.
  2. Hormones: An increased level of progesterone can actually lead to rib pain. This loosens ligaments which is important for the pelvic area for an easier delivery. However, it isn’t targeted to just one area and often affects the spine and rib cage.
  3. Pressure on the diaphragm: As your organs move and shift to make room for baby, often pressure is put on the diaphragm resulting in rib pain.
  4. UTI: Pain in the ribs is actually a side effect of a urinary tract infection.
  5. Indigestion: Heartburn or acid reflux can cause pain in the ribs.
  6. Anxiety: When stressed, tension increases in the muscles. Because the muscles around the ribs are already shifting, this can lead to pain in the ribs along with low back, shoulder and neck pain.
  7. Limited movement: Towards the end of the pregnancy, mobility is limited. This can create tightness in the joints including the rib cage.

Relief of Pregnancy Rib Pain

Rib pain is most common during the third trimester as your body adjusts to the size of the baby. If you have consulted with your doctor and ruled out more series issues, there are some things you can do to help relieve this pain. Practicing good posture, using proper supports when sitting and sleeping, stretching often and not sitting for prolonged periods can help. Prenatal yoga can help with several types of pain during pregnancy. Make sure you listen to your body and go to an instructor that can help with modification when needed. Icing the area of pain can also help. These are all things you can do on your own to help.

Seeking help for pregnancy rib pain

Chiropractic care and massage are also great ways to help relieve pain in the ribs. Making sure your body and spine is aligned will help relieve musculoskeletal strain. For the ribs specifically, it isn’t unusual for a rib to “pop out” to make room for the baby. A trained chiropractor can make adjustments to the ribs to rectify that. An adjustment will also help the baby go into a little lower position to take some pressure off your ribs.

Prenatal massage is another great approach to treating pregnancy rib pain. As the body accommodates the growth of the baby, muscles around the rib cage tend to get tight and inflamed. Speak with your prenatal massage therapist about your rib pain. They can incorporate different massage and stretching techniques to help ease this pain.

However, keep in mind that your baby continues to grow and put pressure on the rib cage even after receiving relief from a prenatal massage or chiropractic appointment. You may need to continue them on a regular basis. For prenatal massage, it is recommended to get one per month up til you are 27 weeks along, then 2 per month until you are 36 weeks and then to transition into once per week as you finish out your pregnancy. This regimen is the best way to keep pregnancy pain down while also getting all the other benefits of prenatal massage.

Let the trained experts at Maternal Massage help ease your pregnancy rib pain, and all the other aches and pains that come along with the blessing of growing a baby. Click here to book online or call us at 385-351-5626 to schedule your prenatal massage appointment today.


While rib pain can be common and is often innocuous, it might warrant a talk with your doctor to rule out an underlying issue like preeclampsia, gallstones, liver disease, HELLP syndrome or Budd-Chiari syndrome. If you are experiencing sudden, severe and constant rib pain speak with your doctor.