Pregnancy is packed full of bodily changes for the woman carrying a child, but some of them are more surprising to new mothers-to-be than others. You're likely well-prepared for the unpleasantness of morning sickness and sore feet, but did you know that neck pain and stiffness is one of the most common complaints in the first trimester? Find out why neck pain is such a common and normal problem for pregnant women in the first trimester and the rest of pregnancy.
First, the rising levels of progesterone has some surprising effects on the ligaments of the body. Since you'll need to eventually squeeze the baby through your pelvic bones that aren't quite wide enough for this job, the ligaments holding the bones together must loosen and stretch to accommodate the expansion. Since the progesterone responsible for this loosening effect circulates throughout the entire body rather than just staying in the hip area, you'll experience loose ligaments everywhere, including the neck. Loose ligaments increase the work on your neck muscles to support your head, resulting in soreness, pain, and stiffness.
As your entire body changes and you begin to gain weight, your natural posture will slowly change without you noticing very much. As the postural adjustments add up, your neck muscles have to adjust as well to deal with the new ways you're holding your head and neck. The other symptoms of early pregnancy also disrupt your sleep, leading to neck pain from tossing and turning as well. If you happen to be busy with the usual tasks of cleaning up the house and preparing a nursery, you've got a third new set of postures and positions leading to your discomfort. It's not always possible to prevent postural causes of neck pain because many positions are so subtle that you can't notice how you're holding yourself.
Finally, your early pregnancy neck pain may continue into the rest of the pregnancy or return after a period of relief. These later neck pains are often linked to the growing weight on your abdomen, which pulls on the entire front of the body. Leaning back to compensate for the weight puts strain on your neck as you hold it in positions you would never otherwise use. If you notice pain and stiffness increasing as you get bigger, talk your doctor about safe ways to treat the pain without putting your growing baby in danger.
For more information, talk to a company like Physical Therapy at ACAC.