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Especially in the third trimester, pregnancy can be a real pain in the neck!
What happens is that ligaments supporting your back and stomach loosen to expand and support the weight of the baby. Then, as baby grows, your back and neck muscles are constantly pulled down and away from your body, a little bit more strongly each day. This can lead to muscle spasms and nerves that get pressured and pinched where your back muscles meet your head (as well as your hips, legs and lower back).
While the pain (and pregnancy) may make you want to lie down and wait for it to go away, keeping the muscles moving and stretching will help heal pinches and strains more quickly.
It’s okay to treat pain with acetaminophen while you’re pregnant, as long as you follow dosing instructions and don’t exceed 3,000 mg (six pills) every 24 hours. Also try applying a heating pad to the back of your neck, or soaking in a warm tub.
Maintain good posture. In a chair make sure your feet reach the floor, or use a footstool to keep your pelvis tucked in.
Check the heights of your computers and televisions. Make sure TVs and monitors are at eye level. Use pillows under your handheld device so you don’t hunch over and stress your shoulder and neck muscles. If you work sitting at a computer keep your mouse is close and at a 90-degree angle to your body at elbow-height. Take frequent breaks to stand and stretch your neck muscles.
Check your car’s seat. Pregnancy changes your posture, so check the adjustment of the driver’s seat of your car. You should be able to look straight ahead into the windshield and road, not up or down. Use a seatbelt adjuster to make sure your shoulder belt is at your shoulder and not on your neck or chest.
Make a pillow fort. If your back pain is awful, spring for a body pillow or make a circle of pillows for your belly so you can read or browse your phone on your side or face-down in bed.
- Roll your head in slow, gentle circles, smaller and then gradually larger.
- Sit up straight, drape your elbow over your head and hold your ear, then slowly nod back and forth to gently stretch muscles on the side of your neck.
- On hands and knees, flex and bend your spine up, down and side-to-side.