Rib tenderness

■ 3rd trimester

In the later months of pregnancy, the fetus runs out of room to stretch and may find it handy to rest his or her feet between your ribs. It's surprising how much those little toes and feet jamming into your rib cage can hurt.

In addition to the pressure the baby is exerting, the shape of your chest is being altered to maintain room for your lungs while the diaphragm is pushed upward by the uterus. This reshaping pushes your ribs outward and can lead to pain between the ribs and the cartilage that attaches them to your breastbone.

If the baby's position is hurting your ribs, try changing your own position. You can do the stretch explained here. Or try this: Take a deep breath while raising one arm over your head, then exhale while you drop your arm. Repeat this movement a few times with each arm. Gently pushing the baby's feet or bottom away from the painful side also is quite safe.

Rib tenderness may disappear after the baby drops into your pelvis, which usually happens two to three weeks before delivery in first pregnancies — but usually not until labor begins in subsequent ones.

Try this stretch: Get down on your hands and knees, with your back relaxed but not sagging. Keeping your head straight and your neck aligned with your spine, round your back upward toward the ceiling. Allow your head to drop all the way down. Gradually release your back and raise your head to the original position. Repeat several times.

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