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During pregnancy, your body goes through a frenzy of hormonal changes. The imbalance in hormones, expanding belly, changes in the position of sleep and lack of mobility lead to pain in the neck that extends to the back and shoulders too. Your changing body shape tends to shift the pressure to the back and spine, thereby resulting in discomfort in the neck.
An expectant mother will feel stiffness in her neck during the first trimester and experience pain as pregnancy progresses. Neck pain is more of a dull aching discomfort that starts at the neck and advances to the shoulder and muscles nearby. This causes stiffness, headache, numbness or even swelling in the neck. Most pregnant women think that there is no way to combat the pain and silently bear it. Well, they have some good news. Since expectant mothers are not advised to take painkillers without her doctor’s discretion, the best way to counter the neck pain is with simple home remedies.
Causes of Neck Pain in Pregnancy
Some common causes of neck pain during pregnancy are:
- Hormonal changes: Changes and imbalance of hormones in the body post conception trigger neck pain. The overdrive of hormones causes the neck muscles to slacken and this causes pain in that region.
- Excessive pressure on muscles: Ligaments of the neck tend to expand, and the muscles of the back and spine experience more pressure as your abdomen begins to grow to accommodate the growing foetus. This leads to neck pain.
- Sleeping posture: As pregnant women are advised to sleep on their left side, the constant pressure on the left part of the body due to this sleeping posture causes stiffness in the neck and leads to pain.
- Lack of mobility: Inability to move around and be mobile during the later stages of pregnancy causes strain in your neck.
Home Remedies to Relieve Neck Pain While You are Pregnant
Expectant mothers should stay clear of pain relievers or any other medication to reduce pain or discomfort unless specified by their doctor. This does not mean, pregnant women have to go through the ordeal of excruciating pain in the neck. There are several safe home remedies that can alleviate neck pain if practised correctly. Following are some simple treatments that will help in relieving neck, shoulder and upper back pain during pregnancy:
- Heat/Cold therapy
Application of ice pack on the neck every day is an excellent way to beat the pain. Both heat and cold therapy are useful and a hot-cold compression could be used at regular intervals.
- Get the right pillow
Pregnant women tend to sleep on a wrong pillow or many pillows to support their head which leads to neck and backache. Invest in a good, comfortable pillow, preferably a maternity one and support your knees with pillows under them to maintain a good sleeping posture.
- Stretch it out
Stretching will bring a lot of relief to neck and backache. It is important for expectant mothers to stretch during pregnancy. The alterations in centre of gravity and increase in weight strain the muscles and stretching ease the pain.
Hydrotherapy is another proven remedy for neck pain. When you are in the shower, target the force of the water on the affected area. Let the water run on the neck for 3 to 4 minutes. Switch to cold water for another 60 seconds. Repeat for a few times to get relief. The hot water stimulates blood circulation and eases the stiff muscles while the cold water will reduce any inflammation that exists.
- Light water-based exercises
Indulge in water-based sports like swimming as it is known to ease neck pain. Your doctor could advise you on types of water-based workouts to ease your pain.
Ask your husband or someone in the family to give you a neck massage especially after a hot shower. The heat will help your muscles relax, and it will be helpful to work a massage after a hot bath. Opt for a facility of a prenatal massage if you can. Try massaging with lavender oil, coconut oil or olive oil for better results.
- Use a tennis ball
You could put a tennis ball to good use to relieve you of pain. Keep the softball between your back and the wall and move slowly from one side to the other. Use your body weight to get the desired amount of pressure.
- Use Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient to relieve pain in the neck. Soak some cotton or a paper towel in apple cider vinegar. Leave it on the affected area for a couple of hours. Repeat twice for results.
Tips for Preventing Neck Pain
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here are a few ways to prevent neck pain during pregnancy:
- Maintain a good posture. As you grow, your body’s balance will tilt towards the spine and it is essential to maintain a straight and firm position to reduce any discomfort.
- Speak to your doctor to try swimming or exercises inside the water that will help in reducing neck pain.
- Speak to a chiropractor after seeking medical consultation. A chiropractor will try to adjust the joints in your body naturally and relieve pain.
- Always maintain an eye level when looking at things and try not to slouch. This is important for women who work in front of a screen. Slouching or looking down means your neck is not at a proper angle that will prevent pain.
- Use a right pillow that is not too hard and uncomfortable.
Simple Exercise to Ease Pregnancy Neck Pain
You can combat neck pain during pregnancy especially in the first trimester with simple workouts and exercises that can be easily done at home. Try these exercises after seeking medical consultation. If pain persists, make sure you go back to the doctor to highlight the issues.
- Sit straight on the floor and look ahead. Then turn your head to the left side far as it can stretch and stay in this position for fifteen seconds. Then slowly turn your head to the original position.
- Repeat the same for your right side and then turn your head to the original position.
- Next push your chin up to the chest and stay in the position for fifteen seconds and come back to your original pose.
Neck pain is not uncommon during pregnancy. It is a tricky situation as you do not want to resort to medication or painkillers. Expectant mothers do not have to bear the ordeal and can bid farewell to their painful woes with simple and natural home remedies as reaching out to medication is perhaps not always the best option. However, it is essential to consult a doctor before trying out any techniques at home to rule out the possibility of any complications.