Pain in Neck While Pregnant: Causes and Remedies

A woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes during the nine months of pregnancy. Most of these changes occur due to a change in the hormone levels. However, in the last trimester, a woman’s body has to handle the weight of the developing fetus, which puts extra pressure on the vertebral column, changing the body posture and shifting the gravity center. In particular, all the weight is located on the front, which as mentioned will alter the balance and the body posture. Due to these changes, many women experience neck pain while pregnant.

What Causes Neck Pain During Pregnancy?

Postural Changes

Postural changes are normal during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, the fetus develops and grows inside the uterus, meaning that it gets bigger and heavier every day. This means, that the pressure in the vertebral column and other body parts increases every day. The baby’s weight makes changes in the vertebral column and the nearby structures, especially on the lower back.

Shoulders and neck, located on the upper part of the spinal column try to relieve this pressure on the lower part of the spinal column by getting strained, which often leads to shoulder and neck discomfort or pain. In many cases, pregnant women just need to live with this discomfort and pain during the entire pregnancy, often getting a relief only after the child is born. In order to ease the shoulder and neck pain, certain stretching exercises are recommended.

Physical Changes

Certain body organs undergo some changes during the nine months of pregnancy, not just only the spinal column. The stomach, pelvis, and breasts get bigger in size, putting extra pressure on the shoulders and neck along with the weight of the developing fetus in the uterus.

In early pregnancy, physical changes will be minimal, progressing throughout the pregnancy. This means, that the neck pain during pregnancy will be minimal in the first or second trimester, getting worse as the pregnancy progresses. Getting proper medical help is very important during pregnancy, rather than taking over-the-counter painkillers or a massage in order to relieve the neck discomfort and pain.

Poor Posture

Postural changes and physical changes are something normal that every woman will experience during her pregnancy. These changes combined with poor posture will lead to shoulder and neck pain.

It is normal to experience pain and discomfort in the shoulder and neck area in cases of a poor body posture while standing, walking, sitting, etc. Using a wrong pillow will just make the pain and discomfort get worse. The wrong sleeping position also contributes to shoulder and neck pain during pregnancy. Adequate support of the shoulder and neck during sleep is very important. Also, correcting the body posture will help relieve the pain and discomfort occurring during pregnancy.


In general, women quit their regular physical activity once they discover that they are pregnant. In some cases, women avoid physical exercises due to early pregnancy symptoms or possible complications. Normally, early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or extreme fatigue tend to get better as a woman enters her second trimester of pregnancy.

However, many pregnant women just choose not to exercise regularly during pregnancy as they used to exercise before conceiving even in the second trimester when they feel physically better. Consult your health care provider if physical exercises are recommended and safe during pregnancy if you are concerned about your health and the health of your baby.

Ectopic Pregnancy

This is a pregnancy occurring outside of uterus, when the fertilized ovum gets implanted in another area, usually on the Fallopian tubes instead of getting implanted inside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy which will end up in a miscarriage. Shoulder pain and neck pain are deeply associated with an ectopic pregnancy, along with symptoms like headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, heavy vaginal bleeding, etc. Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency which required medical attention as soon as possible.

How to Relieve and Prevent Neck Pain During Pregnancy

Neck pain while pregnant is a common problem. Here are some tips which can help you relieve and prevent neck pain while pregnant:

  • Correct and maintain good body posture if you want to relieve and prevent neck pain while pregnant. As mentioned, certain postural changes occur during the nine months of pregnancy which contribute to lower back pain, including shoulder and neck pain as well.
  • Exercise regularly. One of the sports widely recommended during pregnancy is swimming. If you are having problems with shoulder and neck pain while pregnant, then swimming, especially basic pregnancy workouts in water will help you relieve the discomfort and pain.
  • Don’t look down. If you look down, you will increase the pressure on the shoulder and neck area. This will normally increase the pain and discomfort. Often, working on the computer or spending too many hours at the working desk is inevitable even during pregnancy. This normally has a great role when it comes to shoulder and neck problems. Avoid looking down or slouching as much as possible.
  • Use comfortable pillows. The sleeping position and especially the pillow that you are using play an important role when it comes to neck pain while pregnant. Choose a pillow that you are comfortable with to ease the neck pain as much as possible.
  • Don’t forget to stretch out. Muscle straining is normal during pregnancy due to various alterations in the gravity center and body posture. Stretching can help relieve the neck pain as well.
  • Get a massage. If you are experiencing shoulder and neck pain while pregnant, ask your partner to give you a neck massage or just get a neck massage from a professional.
  • Consult a chiropractor. Chiropractors often can help you relieve the shoulder and neck pain while pregnant. However, don’t forget to consult your doctor first before consulting a chiropractor for your problem.