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Natural Ways to Relieve Rib Pain During Pregnancy

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 3/5/2010

When your body prepares for childbirth, rib pain can occur. Learn why this happens and what you can do to help relieve rib pain during pregnancy naturally.

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    Rib Pain During Pregnancy

    The body is remarkable in preparing itself for childbirth but unfortunately, it can cause discomfort or even extreme pain in some women. Pregnancy hormones are released to loosen muscles and ligaments, including those around your rib cage. It causes your ribs to move and shift to make room for your baby to grow and to allow room for greater lung capacity.

    Rib pain during pregnancy normally occurs in the third trimester. You may only feel a mild soreness or the pain can be sharp in and under your ribs. The pain can be felt on either side or it can occur on both sides at once. As your uterus grows and your baby begins to press up against your ribs and chest, you may also experience shoulder pain and, even though more room is made for breathing, you may become short of breath at times. In addition, your breasts are increasing in size, possibly a full cup size or more. This extra weight can cause your shoulders to pull forward and down and place strain on your neck and upper back.

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    Natural Ways to Relieve Rib Pain During Pregnancy

    Always inform your healthcare provider of any pain.

    • Rib pain is often worse in a sitting position. Be sure to sit up straight and periodically get up to do some gentle stretches.

    • Use good posture at all times. Slouching can compress your stomach and cause more pain to your ribs and chest.

    • Raise your arms above your head. This can help relieve some pressure and provide some temporary relief.

    • Prenatal yoga, breathing, and other relaxation exercises can be effective in treating rib pain during pregnancy.

    • Wear a supportive bra but not one that is too tight. Avoid under wire bras because they can put too much pressure on your ribs. If you need to buy a new bra, invest in a nursing bra which can be useful after your baby is born.

    • Wear loose clothing to keep extra pressure from your belly.

    • If you have pain on one side only, sleep on the unaffected side. Use pillows to cushion and support your body for added comfort.

    • Visiting an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or massage therapist may help relieve rib pain during pregnancy.

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