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Can A Baby Break Your Ribs While Pregnant?

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As babies grow, they slowly begin to take up more room, resulting in all kinds of pain throughout your body. It’s surprisingly common to feel extreme rib pain when you’re pregnant, which leaves most of us wondering if a baby can break your ribs.

Fortunately, a fetus breaking your ribs while pregnant is pretty uncommon. However, it is common to wind up with bruised or fractured ribs during pregnancy. 

Can A Baby Break Your Ribs?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was a mere 105 pounds. It didn’t take long for it to feel like she was karate chopping all of my organs, and my ribs.

I can understand why it seems more than possible that a baby could easily kick your ribs and snap them in half. However, that isn’t quite how it works. 

Most Babies Will Not Be Strong Enough To Break Your Ribs

It can take quite a bit to break a bone, even if the bone is in a tender state because you’re pregnant. Your little one might cause a bit of discomfort, but it’s not likely that they are going to break your ribs from a few kicks or punches. 

You’re More Likely To Suffer Stress Fractures During Pregnancy

While your baby might not break your ribs, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of the woods. There are plenty of changes happening to your body that make you more likely to suffer from cracked ribs while pregnant. 

First, you have to keep in mind that your anatomy changes when you are pregnant. Because of that, your ribs have less support than they normally do. This can make you more likely to suffer from a fracture. A horrible coughing spell can be enough to fracture one of your ribs!

Having poor nutrition can also contribute to having brittle bones and teeth while pregnant. Your baby typically gets vitamins and nutrients before you do.

So, if you aren’t taking your prenatal vitamins as you should or getting enough important vitamins, like vitamin D, then you will be more likely to suffer from cracked ribs during pregnancy. 

How To Tell If You Have Broken Ribs While Pregnant

It can be tempting to start Googling your symptoms to determine whether you have broken ribs or not.

However, the only way to determine whether you have broken ribs is by going to the doctor and having an X-ray done. Going to a doctor can also help you determine whether you have fractured ribs, too. 

pregnant woman

Symptoms Of Broken Ribs

If you break a rib, there are a few tell-tale symptoms to watch out for. I was in an accident when I was 14, and suffered a couple of broken ribs. If you have broken ribs, you might notice:

  • Bruising where the rib is broken
  • Pain when breathing
  • Pain when moving, such as twisting or stretching
  • More localized pain where the rib is broken

Should You Go To The Doctor For A Broken Rib?

Most people tend to blow off going to the doctor for certain things because they say that there is nothing that doctors can do. While it’s true that doctors cannot put a cast on your ribs, and there isn’t a lot that they can do, you still want to head to the doctor if you have a broken rib. 

This is important because there can be complications with broken ribs. If the rib is broken in a certain spot or pointing a certain way, it can puncture your lung, for example.

Broken ribs can also cause quite a bit of damage to other organs depending on which rib is broken. It’s always better to be safe instead of sorry. 

Your doctor can also give you some great tips for recovery. They might be able to prescribe pain medication. A doctor can request lab work to make sure that you’re not deficient in certain vitamins, too.

Some people receive a small, plastic piece of equipment with a tube that they breathe into to encourage deep breathing to prevent pneumonia. Doctors are also full of useful advice. 

Rib Flaring Feels Like Broken Ribs

Rib flaring is what happens when you are in your third trimester. The baby grows rather quickly, and the uterus needs more room to accommodate this.

Because of this, it moves upwards so that it is positioned right below the rib cage. To make some more room for your baby, your lower ribs will slowly spread out. 

Almost every person goes through this during pregnancy, but it’s more noticeable by some women. Women that are larger or have smaller babies might not feel any pain.

However, if you’re smaller and have a large baby, you’re bound to feel some pain. It can feel like you have broken ribs as the ribs slowly expand even though there is nothing wrong. 

How To Treat Broken Ribs While Pregnant (And Other Rib Pain)

While there isn’t a lot that doctors can do, you can trust that most broken ribs heal on their own within a couple of months. As time goes on, the pain will get to be less and less. Treating your pain and making sure that you avoid complications is important. 

Managing Your Pain

It’s important to make sure that you’re comfortable, but there aren’t a lot of pain medications that you can take while pregnant. Some pain medications are okay for short-term use, though.

Consult with your doctor regarding which pain medications you can, and cannot, take. 

Avoid Wrapping Things Around Your Ribs

This was an older practice that previous generations in your family might still recommend. However, it’s not good for you.

They have discovered that having the ribs tightly wrapped prevents deep breathing, which can lead to pneumonia. Instead, simply try to limit painful movement for the time being. 

Take Deep Breaths As Soon As You Can

Deep breathing is wonderful for your lungs. Not taking deep breaths can make you more likely to develop pneumonia, and then you’re right back at the hospital.

It’s going to hurt, but you need to take deep breaths as soon as you’re able to so that you don’t wind up with pneumonia. 

Ice Packs

Ice helps a lot with swelling and pain. Pick up a large ice pack to cover the area and find some relief. Place a towel on your ribs, and lay the ice pack on top of your ribs for ten minutes at a time.

Consider picking up a re-usable ice pack like this one because you’re going to be doing this for a couple of months. You want to make sure that they are flexible so that you can wrap them around your side for maximum pain relief. 

In Conclusion

You’re much more likely to have broken ribs while you’re pregnant, but this usually isn’t because the baby has kicked hard enough to crack your ribs. Instead, other changes make you susceptible to this injury. Fortunately, most people heal just fine without complications. 

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!