Neck pain during pregnancy is a common complaint. It is suggested that various physiological changes in the body to accommodate the growing baby and the increased weight that comes with it can put a strain on your back and neck muscles, causing pain and discomfort (1). While there are a number of over-the-counter (OTC) medications available for neck pain, it may be difficult to manage the condition when pregnant. You may be suffering from neck stiffness in silence to avoid using medicines that might harm your baby. Continue reading to learn some tips on how you may alleviate neck pain while also having a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Causes Of Neck Pain During Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your body goes through an overdrive of hormonal imbalance. It causes various hormones to shoot up or go down, leading to a variety of symptoms. Added to that is the change in posture and the change in body shape you may be going through. The neck pain pregnancy becomes a little difficult. There are various reasons that could contribute to a neck pain while you are pregnant:
The ligaments in your neck and in your shoulders slacken off when you are pregnant. In addition to this, your back muscles start facing more and more pressure as your abdomen starts to expand. Altogether these conditions can often cause pain in the neck (2). While you are pregnant, you are always advised to sleep on your left side (3). Doing this day after day could also lead to pain in the neck. As your pregnancy progresses, you may tend to be less active and spend most of your days on the couch, sitting. This could cause a pain in the neck as you may be spending more and more time reading or watching a screen.
How To Prevent Or Reduce Neck Pain Naturally While You Are Pregnant ?
Before you do anything to prevent or reduce your neck pain while you are pregnant, it is important to first speak to your doctor about it. Here are a few tips that may help for neck pain in pregnancy:
1. Maintain A Good Posture:
This is extremely crucial to prevent and reduce any neck pain you may have, not just during pregnancy. While you are pregnant, your body will stretch and grow, making space for the growing baby inside you. This is the time when your body’s balance will shift towards the spine. You may start feeling the weight and slouch a lot (2) (4). This can cause the muscles in your neck to stiffen and tense and lead to neck pain.
2. Swimming Or Water Based Exercise:
In many cases, basic swimming or simple pregnancy exercises that are conducted inside water are known to help with neck pain. Speak to your doctor to know if it is safe for you to do so. Take the doctor’s advice for special exercises which you could do during pregnancy (5).
3. Take The Help Of A Chiropractor:
Before you do this, you definitely need your doctor’s approval. A chiropractor will naturally adjust the joints in your body and help relieve any pain. Make sure that the chiropractor is a certified professional and works with pregnant women (6).
4. Look At Eye Level:
Slouching or constantly looking down can cause a lot of stress on your neck, causing pain and discomfort. If you have to work on a desk or stare at a screen, ensure the same is at eye level. Looking ahead and not down, will mean your neck is at its regular angle and this will prevent pain.
5. Get A Comfortable Pillow:
Sometimes, all it takes to prevent or reduce neck pain is a good pillow. You may have a very hard pillow right now, or one that is too high for you. Try out a few different pillows and see what works best for you.
Quick And Simple Neck Exercise
Try this out to ease any neck pain, but stop if it makes you uncomfortable:
Sit straight and look ahead. Turn your head to the left, as far as your head can go, and hold the position for about 15 seconds. Return to the first position. Turn your head to the right, as far as your head can go, and hold the position for about 15 seconds. Return to the first position. Push your chin down towards your chest and hold for about 15 seconds. Return to the first position.
Neck pain during pregnancy may result from hormonal fluctuations that affect the tone of muscles and ligaments. Additionally, the growing baby may affect posture and balance, straining the back and neck muscles. Restricted motion during sleep may also be a contributing factor. Use pillows for supporting your back and look at eye level during screen time. Try maintaining a good posture and practice water-based exercises to help ease the neck muscles. However, check with your doctor before performing any exercise or getting help from a chiropractor.
- Serdar Kesikburun et al.; (2018); Musculoskeletal pain and symptoms in pregnancy: a descriptive study.
- Minor Ailments in Middle Pregnancy and Their Management.
- Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy.
- Pregnancy and Posture.
- Pregnancy and exercise.
- Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy.