During pregnancy, women frequently encounter a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Rib pain is a common symptom, with various probable explanations that vary with each trimester.
Rib pain during pregnancy is common especially in the third trimester as your baby grows. Because of their position in the womb, the growing fetus frequently produces aches and pains around the ribs. Rib pain during pregnancy can be caused by your baby physically kicking you in the ribs, extending out under your ribcage, or simply moving by your ribs. Your muscles extending out can also cause pain.
Medical issues can cause rib pain less frequently, so knowing the warning signals is critical.
Here’s what causes rib pain during pregnancy, how to avoid it, and how to be comfortable until you give birth.
What causes rib pain during pregnancy?
The most common reasons for rib pain during pregnancy differ depending on the trimester. Here are various causes and why they occur.
Rib pain might be caused by changes in your body that occur during pregnancy. Different ranges of motion, for example, are restricted as your body increases. It’s more difficult to lean forward when there’s a person in front of you. Rib pain might result from this restriction.
The growing foetus’ pressure
The uterus grows upward to accommodate the developing foetus in the late second and third trimesters. As the foetus grows larger, it may begin to press against the ribs.
Carrying the increased weight of the foetus can also put additional strain on the muscles around the belly, putting pressure on the rib muscles and creating muscle aches.
This type of discomfort is typically mild to moderate. It is preferable to see a doctor if the pain is severe.
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Toward the conclusion of the second trimester, the foetus usually switches position and turns upside down, with the head looking down and the feet pointing toward the ribs.
The foetus might put pressure on the ribs in its new position. Their movements begin to have an effect on the woman’s body. Their arm and leg motions, particularly kicks, might cause rib and other aches and pains.
This form of rib pain is most commonly felt by pregnant women just under the breast on the side where the baby is.
Round ligament discomfort
Round ligament pain is a typical complaint during pregnancy. The round ligaments are two fibrous tissue cords that link the uterus’s front to the groin. As the uterus expands during pregnancy, it can place pressure on the round ligaments, causing intense pain while moving.
From the beginning of the second trimester onward, round ligament pain can occur at any time. Women may experience pain in their ribcage, back, or pelvic.
Because of increased estrogen levels and difficulty emptying the gallbladder, pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting gallstones than normal persons.
According to one study, about 12% of pregnant women will have gallstones. Gallstones may or may not exhibit symptoms. People generally suffer pain in the upper right abdomen when this occurs.
Gallstones can form at any point during pregnancy. Following their pregnancy, some women may require surgery to remove them.
When pregnant, women are more likely to acquire a urinary tract infection (UTI), especially during the third trimester.
The bacteria in the urinary tract can alter during pregnancy, and women may have more trouble emptying the bladder if the fetus puts pressure on it. Both of these variables raise the likelihood of UTIs.
A UTI, if left untreated, can produce discomfort in the kidneys that mimic rib pain.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor since you may have a UTI:
- burning sensation when urinating
- increased urination frequency
- insufficient urine flow
- high fever or chills
- discomfort in the bladder or near the kidneys
The body creates a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This natural hormone is in charge of assisting the muscles and ligaments in preparing for delivery.
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Relaxin can induce pain in several parts of the body, including the pelvis and beneath the ribs. This ache is occasionally caused by heartburn. Relaxin induces heartburn by relaxing the oesophagus, which is the tube that transports food from the mouth to the stomach, allowing stomach acid to rise higher than usual.
Heartburn can occur as early as the first trimester and can last the entire pregnancy.
Constipation causes abdominal pain and infrequent or delayed bowel motions, which can be difficult to perform when they do occur. A pregnant woman may experience constipation-related pain in the upper abdomen, under the ribs, at times.
Rib pain during pregnancy is commonly dismissed as “normal” discomfort. However, for other women, there may be a more significant underlying cause.
Pain in the upper right abdomen, for example, can indicate liver illness, preeclampsia, or HELLP syndrome. HELLP is a potentially fatal complication. Protein in the urine and elevated blood pressure are symptoms.
Seek medical assistance right away if you have sudden, acute rib discomfort and any of the following symptoms:
- seeing dots or floaters in your vision
- vomiting and nausea
Tumours and rib pain
Pregnancy may enhance liver growth in women who have cancer or are at high risk of getting liver cancer, according to some data. If you have severe pain beneath your right rib, your doctor might examine you for evidence of a tumour. A tumour may push your liver into your rib cage.
Because pregnancy causes your blood to clot more, some women are at a higher risk for blood clots. Budd-Chiari syndrome is a rare disorder in which this occurs. Budd-Chiari has the potential to harm the kidneys and liver. Severe rib pain should always be evaluated by a doctor.
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How to prevent rib pain during pregnancy?
If a baby’s foot is caught in your body and causing rib agony, you might be out of luck. However, staying active and exercising during pregnancy may help you avoid some rib pain. Both of these will keep you comfortable and prevent you from gaining too much weight. This can aggravate the pain.
Focus on eating a nutritious diet to help avoid the growth of gallstones. A high-fat diet can result in gallstones.
How to relieve rib pain during pregnancy?
Some rib pain is unavoidable as a result of the baby pressing against or kicking the ribs. Taking warm baths and pain relievers with the advice of a doctor can help in certain circumstances. Gentle exercise can also help to alleviate pregnancy-related discomfort.
The treatment for rib discomfort is determined by the cause. Women suffering from a UTI, for example, can be treated with antibiotics. If gallstones are present, a woman may require surgery to remove them after giving birth.
Other home remedies for rib pain that a woman can try include:
Regular and gentle exercise
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Stretching is particularly beneficial. Women can stretch their back and chest muscles during pregnancy by using an exercise ball.
Using a heating pad
A heating pad should be a healthy approach to relieve pain during pregnancy as long as it is not excessively hot.
Consultation with a pregnancy-specific chiropractor
They can recommend workouts, posture adjustments, and other methods to alleviate musculoskeletal pain.
Trying out yoga
Yoga is a safe and effective technique to stretch your muscles and joints when pregnant. This stretching can help with a variety of aches and pains, such as the back, rib, and joint pain.
Dressing in loose and comfortable clothes
Tight or restricting clothing might aggravate pregnancy aches.
How to sleep with rib pain during pregnancy?
Though there is no cure for this discomfort, you can take a few steps to alleviate it temporarily.
- Supportive items such as rib braces, body pillows, pregnancy belts, lumbar seat pillows, and belly bras are available to help support the lower body. They also help with rib cage pain.
- Warm water bath. A warm shower will calm and relax your aching muscles. It provides temporary alleviation from rib pain.
- Use pillows for support. Prop yourself up beneath the bump with pillows to relieve tension on the rib muscles. It relieves the majority of the body’s pain and pressure.
- Lean back. Leaning forward aggravates rib pain. So, by leaning backward, you can keep your posture. This also alleviates pressure on the swollen breasts. Stretching back expands the space in the abdomen and relieves strain on the rib cage and lower back muscles.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight-fitting clothing adds pressure and aggravates rib pain. Wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow you to breathe easily. Get a maternity or nursing bra that can relieve pressure on the rib cage.
Rib pain, like many other aches and pains during pregnancy, is typical and usually not cause for concern. If the discomfort is accompanied by additional symptoms such as fever, elevated blood pressure, or spots in front of the eyes, a woman should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
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