Neck Pain in Pregnancy: Reasons, Home Remedies & Prevention

Neck Pain During Pregnancy – Causes, Remedies, and Prevention

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

A pregnant woman’s body goes through a lot of hormonal changes. The imbalance in hormones, expanding belly, changes in the posture, and a lack of mobility can lead to neck pain which can extend to the back and shoulders as well.

During pregnancy, a woman might feel stiffness in her neck during the first trimester and experience pain as the pregnancy progresses. Neck pain is more of discomfort that starts in 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 that they will silently have to bear it. But that’s not true! Some women take painkillers after consulting with their doctors but some even try home remedies. The best way to counter neck pain is with simple home remedies. If you are experiencing neck pain too during pregnancy, here’s everything you need to know about it.

Causes of Neck Pain During Pregnancy

Some common causes of neck pain during pregnancy are mentioned below:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes and bodily changes during pregnancy post conception can trigger neck pain. The overdrive of hormones causes the neck muscles to slacken and this causes pain in that region.

  • Excessive pressure on muscles: During pregnancy, the ligaments of the neck tend to expand and the muscles of the back and spine experience more pressure as a woman’s abdomen begins to grow to accommodate the growing foetus. This leads to neck pain.

  • Changes in the 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: Staying in the same position for extended periods of time during pregnancy can make your muscles sore and stiff. If you are pregnant, you need to move around enough to keep your muscles warm. Lack of mobility only leads to stiffness and may result in neck pain during the later stages of pregnancy.

Home Remedies for Neck Pain During Pregnancy

If you experience neck pain during pregnancy, avoid taking pain relievers or any other medication unless specified by your doctor. However, this does not mean, you should live with the pain. There are several home remedies that can help alleviate neck pain if practised correctly. Following are some simple treatments that will help in relieving neck, shoulder and upper back pain during pregnancy:

  • Try warm compress.
    A warm compress can help relieve neck pain to an extent. Get a warm compress and apply it on the neck every day to beat the pain. Use it at regular intervals if needed.

  • How about a cold compress?
    Similar to a warm compress, a cold compress can also help you beat the pain. Simply, take an ice pack and place it on the neck region. It will help provide relief from the pain to a great extent.

  • Change your pillow.
    Using a wrong pillow or too many pillows to provide support to your head can cause neck pain and backache. So invest in a good, comfortable pillow, preferably a maternity pillow. You will slowly get relief from neck pain. You can also use a maternity pillow to support your knees. Place the pillow between your knees to maintain a good sleeping posture.

  • Stretch it out!
    Stretching can also bring about relief from neck and back pain during pregnancy. So if you are pregnant, it is important that you do some pregnancy-safe stretches. Stretching while pregnant can lengthen your muscles, relax your body, and relieve stress too. Apart from doing stretches, you can also practice light yoga and pregnancy-safe workouts.
    A woman stretching her neck

  • Try hydrotherapy!
    Hydrotherapy can also provide relief from 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, you will feel better. The hot water stimulates blood circulation and eases the stiff muscles while the cold water lowers any inflammation that exists. However, hydrotherapy should be done under supervision.

  • Try swimming!
    You can also indulge in some water-based sports like swimming to get rid of neck pain. Swimming is known to ease neck pain, but one must consult with a doctor before taking up swimming or any other water-based sports.

  • Use a tennis ball.
    You could put a tennis ball to use to relieve you of pain. Keep the softball between your back and the wall and move slowly from one side to the other. And use your body weight to get the desired amount of pressure.

  • Get a neck massage.
    Ask your husband or someone in the family to give you a neck massage. A neck massage will relax your muscles. For better results, get a massage after a hot bath. You can also opt for prenatal massages if you can. Try massaging with lavender oil, coconut oil, or olive oil for better results.

    A man massaging a woman's neck

Tips to Prevent Neck Pain

As they say, prevention is better than cure. So here are a few ways to prevent neck pain during pregnancy:

  • Maintain a good posture. As you gain weight, there will be a lot of pressure on your spine and you may feel neck and back pain. So it is essential that you maintain a straight and firm position. Avoid slouching as it will only put pressure on the neck area and result in pain.

  • You can take up swimming or other water-based exercises after consulting with your doctor – it will help prevent neck pain during pregnancy!

  • 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. If you slouch or look down, it will put pressure on your neck and it may hurt.

  • Use the right pillow while sleeping. A pillow that is hard and uncomfortable can stress your neck muscles. So invest in a good pillow!

Simple Exercises to Ease Neck Pain During Pregnancy

You can combat neck pain during pregnancy especially in the first trimester with simple workouts and exercises that are safe to practice at home. Try these exercises after seeking medical consultation. And if the pain persists, make sure you check with your doctor immediately.

  • Sit straight on the floor and look ahead. Then turn your head to the left side as far as it can stretch and stay in this position for about 15 seconds. Then slowly turn your head to the original position. Then turn your head to the right; hold this position for about 15 seconds then slowly turn your head to the original position.

  • Slowly push your chin down to the chest and stay in this position for fifteen seconds, then come back to your original pose. This will relax your neck muscles and provide relief from neck pain.

Neck pain is common during pregnancy but it can be treated with home remedies and simple pregnancy-safe exercises. But if the pain is excessive and home remedies fail to work, consulting a doctor before trying out any techniques at home is a must as a doctor will be able to rule out the possibility of any complications.

Also Read: Exercises to Relieve Back Pain During Pregnancy

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