Neck Pain and Pregnancy - How Do I Get Relief?

The proverbial "pain in the neck" can quickly become a reality for women who are pregnant. Along with the common back pain associated with pregnancy, neck pain often shows up, either as an accoutrement to the back pain, or as an item on its own. However, it happens, neck pain can be enough to rob a pregnant woman of that much-coveted "good night's sleep", and adds to the already mounting list of aches and pains that go along with the joy of pregnancy.

Nowhere To Put My Body

Obtaining a comfortable position during the night is a feat for most women who are pregnant. Constant tossing and turning, looking for the right place to put legs, back and belly, often ends up with a neck that has been twisted into places a neck should never go. What's the cause of such discomfort? You can chalk most of it up to hormonal changes in the body.

As a woman's body prepares for pregnancy and delivery, specific hormones are released to encourage the body to open and flex in places that are normally more rigid. With the sudden influx of these hormones, the muscles and ligaments become loose and more flexible than ever. This allows for the body to accommodate the growing belly and the shift in the center of gravity that happens as the uterus expands with the developing baby. It also means that the back and neck have to support weight that is in excess of what they normally handle. The additional weight puts terrific strain on the back and neck muscles. The good news is that the stiff neck and back pain can often be handled with the use of a back and neck support pillow.

Relieving The Pain

There are a few things a woman can do to help herself along should neck pain be an issue. First of all, don't ignore the pain. The intensity of it can be reduced by not sleeping with too many pillows-something a lot of women do because they are looking for the perfect position to ensure at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. It may be useful to use two pillows under the knees to relieve any stress on the back muscles and use one cervical pillow under the head and neck. 

Icing works wonders. Using ice packs on the neck will prevent swelling and reduce pain. Of course, knowing that prevention is better than cure, doing neck exercises and stretching the neck daily along with some mild abdominal and back exercises (until the last few weeks of pregnancy) will help to keep the pressure off the neck and back.

Try prenatal yoga. There are some great, gentle postures to help relieve the tension in this area and to help you relax.

Table of Contents
1. Neck Pain
2. When to worry
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