Most women agree that, while pregnancy is an unforgettable and rewarding experience in many ways, it can also be less than comfortable. From morning sickness to fluid retention, to merely trying to discover a sleeping position that works with a beach-ball-sized stomach, there are many times when women may wish pregnancy was just a little bit shorter.
Neck pains during pregnancy are yet another contributor to the discomfort women may experience; however, they are one that is both preventable and treatable if and when they occur.
What Causes Neck Pains While Pregnant?
Neck pains may happen for one of several reasons.
Over time, as a pregnant woman’s stomach grows, it alters the weight distribution and alignment of her body. In response, spine curvature changes, which may result in increased stress on the lower back muscles. This, in turn, overworks the upper back and shoulders as they attempt to compensate for the imbalance. The result? Neck pain.
Pain may also originate from elsewhere. Often, women are exhausted throughout the first trimester and too large towards the third to work out or complete many exercises successfully. This may result in the atrophying of muscles. Pregnancy hormone-induced softening of the joints combined with the insufficient muscle to hold them in place leads to loosening. Loose joints can compress nerves, causing extreme agony.
Unfortunately, those who do find the stamina to exercise may also hurt themselves by failing to tailor their routine to fit the needs of their changing bodies. Activities such as abdominal exercise may prove exceptionally difficult with a growing stomach and result in undue strain upon the neck as form suffers. Doctors often recommend avoiding specific movements while pregnant to avoid serious injury.
Finally, the expansion of the pregnant body may also cause pain by making sleep a challenge. Tasked with the challenging job of becoming comfortable lying down, especially later on when doctors often recommend avoiding the back and only resting only on the left side, a pregnant woman may find herself slumbering in a somewhat awkward position. Unnatural twisting or stretching can strain the neck, resulting in severe pain upon awakening.
Preventing Neck Problems Before They Happen
Products are available on the market to improve comfort for pregnant women and minimize their pain.
Doctor-approved supportive belts may help protect the abdominal muscles and back from the strain of a growing stomach. Similarly, full-body pillows lend extra support where it’s needed and help women maintain a comfortable and safe sleeping position.
Women should also seek the expertise of their doctors when developing a workout regimen while pregnant. Simple exercise, such as walking, may help retain muscle strength and prevent atrophy and its resulting complications.
An appropriate routine will also avoid neck injuries while at the gym due to inappropriate or unduly challenging movements.
Exercising in the pool is frequently encouraged for pregnant women. This is because the water relieves the stress on the joints by holding the weight of the body. Unlike other high-impact exercises, it is unlikely to injure oneself in the pool while pregnant.
How Can You Treat Neck Pains During Pregnancy?
Those experiencing neck pain may find quick relief through gentle stretching. Tilting the head slowly in different directions should ease any tightness. Done regularly throughout the day, this may also serve a preventative purpose and minimize the risk of further neck-related injury.
Neck massage may bring some relief as well, and almost anyone can give one. However, when in severe pain, sometimes the assistance of a professional may be necessary. In these instances, chiropractors know how to help where the less experienced cannot.
Ensure that whoever makes adjustments has experience working with individuals who are pregnant.
- A Simple Exercise to Help Pinched Nerve and Neck Pain / Dr. Mandell -
Pain Reliever Options and A Doctor’s Approval
It may be tempting when in pain, but make sure to never take medication at any point while pregnant without a doctor’s knowledge. There are several things safe for adults under normal circumstances that are dangerous for a baby during gestation.
When he or she believes it is warranted, a doctor might prescribe a pregnant woman suffering from neck pain acetaminophen. However, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are typically avoided when pregnant in favor of safer options.
Neck Pain is Treatable and Preventable
Many types of pain women experience while pregnant, while not dangerous, are unpleasant and unfortunately, unpreventable.
Fortunately, neck pain is very different from round ligament pain or hormone-induced headaches, and women can often avoid it with the use of supportive devices and regular, light exercise. Treatment options include stretching, massage, adjustment, or various pain relievers, but all medications must have the prior approval of a doctor before ingestion.
Take heart in knowing that if despite preventative measures they do occur, neck pains during pregnancy will not last forever and should resolve upon giving birth.