How to Relieve Rib Pain in Pregnancy

Rib pain during pregnancy is the pits. If you’re suffering from it, it likely feels like you’ve been punched, and your muscles are incredibly tender and sore. Here are a few remedies I’ve been experimenting with that you may find helpful, too:

Stretch with an exercise ball

The reason your ribs are under such stress is because they expand up to four inches in width during pregnancy. Yikes! 

It may be the opposite of what you’d think would help, but stretching is the best relief you can give yourself.

Start by doing rollouts on the ground.

Put your arms behind your head, arch your back and let the ball roll down your spine and all the way back up to your neck. Repeat for up to a minute, or whatever is comfortable for you. (This is Heaven!) I try to do it every night.

For a deeper stretch, drop your arms to the side, if you can, and then slowly move them up by your head. This gives you a really good stretch across your chest and shoulder muscles, too.

Stretch using a door frame

This one provides a similar stretch as the exercise above but doesn’t require the ball (I’ll do this throughout the day at work). Extend both arms across a door frame and then lean into the room. This opens up the muscles in your chest and those along your ribs.

Use good posture

I know, this one’s no fun, but when you sit slunched over, all those upper body muscles that work together are going to be tight. If your ribs hurt, you likely have a natural tendency to want to arch your back, which helps you roll those shoulders back and sit up straight.

Use a heating pad

Isolated heating pads are okay to use during pregnancy. Just make sure you are not raising your core body temperature. 

I have a little gel bean bag that I can put in the microwave for about a minute and it’s the perfect size to lay the sore part of my ribs at the end of the day. You can purchase them at Dillons or Walgreens.

Apply Icy Hot

Ah, the smell brings me back to running high school track. Use as directed and apply where your muscles are really achy. It gives you an instant cool sensation and relaxes your muscles. 

Drink More Water

My doctor suggested this. When your muscles are tight and sore, hydration helps with the recovery process. I have to force myself to drink water throughout the day, however, having a big water bottle to refill seems to help me get more down.

Take Tylenol PM

Sometimes, I can have a hard time getting comfortable or staying asleep because of my rib pain. My ribs will occasionally tingle (like your foot does when it falls asleep) or even throb. For nights like these, my doctor recommended taking Tylenol. I’ve found that propping myself up helps, too, as I typically experience the pain when I’m lying on my side.

Do you have any rib pain hacks? Please share in the comments!

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Ryan Clem
Ryan and her husband Ryley have two daughters, a nine-year-old and a newborn baby. She's a native Wichitan and calls the east side home. Ryan works part-time as a copywriter at a marketing agency in downtown Wichita. In her sacred free time, she's probably catching up on a reality show or doodling on her iPad. Follow Ryan at @ListenMyDear on Instagram and her blog Listen My Dear.