Rib Pain and Shortness of Breath During Pregnancy

October 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Rib Pain & Shortness of Breath



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Image of the Pregnancy Pain Relief book


pregnancy rib pain, image of woman holding her ribsRib pain is common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. As the baby grows and fills up your abdomen it begins to put pressure on your ribs and chest, causing pain and shortness of breath. Though you may feel short of breath, your body is actually breathing 40-50 percent more air than before you were expecting. Your rib cage is widening as well. As your baby begins to drop preparing for delivery (called lightening), you may find rib pain and shortness of breath will ease.

Causes of Rib Pain During Pregnancy

  • Pressure from your baby- Your baby is growing and pressing up on your ribcage. It is not uncommon to experience discomfort, heaviness, and feeling short of breath.
  • Pressure from your breasts- Your breasts are growing and becoming heavier. As your pregnancy progresses you most likely will grow one or more bra sizes. This extra weight from your breasts pulls on your shoulders and upper back and weighs on your rib cage.
  • Hormones- Hormones cause a loosening of all your muscles and ligaments including those in your upper back and ribs.
  • Pressure on your diaphragm- As your baby gets bigger in will nest just under your rib cage, putting pressure on your diaphragm making breathing more difficult. There are also several nerves in your diaphragm which can refer pain into your ribs and shoulders.
  • Stress- contributes to tension, anxiety, shortness of breath, shoulder pain and other pain.
  • Urinary Tract Infection- you may feel pain in your ribs due to a urinary infection. If you are experiencing rib and flank pain with kidney discomfort or difficulty urinating, painful urination or burning with urination contact your doctor.

Preventing Rib Pain During Pregnancy

Image of the Pregnancy Pain Relief book

  • Exercise and do regular stretching.
  • Practice Yoga.
  • Use Pregnancy Pain Relief techniques to loosen your body and take pressure off of your ribs, breasts and abdomen.
  • Try a new bra- be sure to get one that is very supportive, but not too tight. Under wire bras may press on your ribs and aggravate pain.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Be aware of your posture- sit up straight with your shoulders back and head up. Slouching will aggravate pain.
  • Practice prenatal Yoga.
  • Hold your arms over your head to expand your rib cage.
  • Do breathing exercises.
  • Use a pregnancy pillow for sleeping.
  • When resting, try laying on your left side or you can relax with your arms extended above your head.

Treatment for Rib Pain During Pregnancy

  • See a massage therapist, chiropractor or acupuncturist
  • Practice Stress Relieving Techniques.
  • Take acetaminophen for pain.
  • Use Pregnancy Pain Relief Techniques




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