Sure pregnancy is an amazing and beautiful experience, but it can also keep you in a constant state of second guessing. It’s natural to wonder how and what your baby is doing in there, but because you can’t be under a 24-hour ultrasound, you can only guess. You can feel your baby’s movements when they kick, turn, or roll around, but sometimes it may feel like they’re jarred behind your ribs. If you’ve been feeling a sharp pain under your breasts, you might wonder, can babies get stuck in your ribs?
As your baby gets bigger, you may feel more aches and pains in your body, including in your ribs, but it’s not because your baby is stuck. In an interview with Romper, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and Fellow of American College of Childbirth Educators (FACCE), Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education, says that although you may feel like your baby is stuck in your ribs during the latter portion of your pregnancy, this really isn’t the case. “It is a basic size issue,” says Blumenfeld, “a mother's torso is only so big, and not only do babies need room to grow, they also need room to stretch out.”
She says that all this growth and stretching can cause a mother to feel her baby’s feet, buttocks, or in case of a breech baby, their head, in her ribs. This can get pretty uncomfortable and distracting, explains Blumenfeld, but your baby isn’t at all trapped. “They can move and rotate as needed,” she adds, “so they can eventually make their descent for birth.” So although it may feel like your baby is stuck behind your rib cage, it’s most likely just your baby’s foot or butt stretching or kicking towards your ribs.
If it feels like your baby has decided to live in your ribs forever, there are things you can try to help alleviate the pain. For starters, you can try wearing loose clothes and a less restrictive bra, suggested New Kids Center, so that you put less tension and pressure on the area. If the pain in your rib area is uncomfortable at night, they recommended you try using pillows to prop up your back to ease the pressure, or to try sleeping on your side (preferably left) for comfort. Keeping active with regular exercises or stretching, along with gentle massages and hot/cold compresses, can help as well, the article noted, as long as you get the green light from your doctor first.
But your growing baby isn’t the only thing that could be causing discomfort in your ribs. According to Healthline, rib pain during pregnancy can also be a sign of gallstones, which can be formed from the higher levels of estrogen and slow emptying of your gallbladder and ducts. Rib pain can also be caused by heartburn in some women, the website noted, which is common in the last trimester of pregnancy. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about any pain you might be feeling so they can rule out any serious conditions.
If you do feel like your baby is sitting comfortably up in your ribs with no plans of leaving, there is good news. As you head towards your due date, your baby should descend lower into your pelvis in preparation for birth, so the pain or pressure you are feeling in your ribs should subside. Luckily, pregnancy only lasts for nine months, and all the aches and pains that come with it become a faded memory. And hey, when you finally meet your beautiful newborn and gaze into his gorgeous eyes, you can just ask him why he was so comfortable up there.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.