Baby Hiccups in Womb During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman with her hand on belly

All pregnant women at some point of time in their pregnancy must have felt small, repeated spasms in the womb, haven’t you? You must have thought it must be a kick or the movement of your baby. But, is this normal?

These short and rhythmic movements are actually very common during pregnancy and are known as foetal hiccups. Let us explore why do babies hiccup in the womb, and when do you need to contact your doctor.

What Causes Foetal Hiccups?

Foetal hiccups are simply a side effect of your baby adjusting to all the new things that he can explore. A foetal hiccup in utero is a sign of a number of developmental milestones such as the development of the neurological system or your baby practising to breathe and strengthen his lungs and diaphragm.

It may be a cause for worry for mothers when they first feel their baby’s hiccups from within the womb, but doctors have identified the following reasons as to why hiccups are caused in utero.

  1. Contracting Diaphragm:
    Foetal hiccups are similar to the hiccups experienced by children and adults. In a foetus, it is caused by the sudden onset of intense contractions or spasms of the diaphragm – the muscle that acts as the partition between the lungs and the abdomen. Hiccups in utero are a reaction to the baby breathing amniotic fluid within the amniotic sac. After the development of the central nervous system, the amniotic acid flows in and out of the baby’s lungs making the diaphragm to contract spontaneously.
  2. Reflexes:
    Foetal hiccups help the babies in utero develop and strengthen their reflexes that control the movement of the windpipe after they are born. These reflexes allow the baby to be fed without choking. A foetus that constantly moves inside the womb with contracting movements in anxious to come out. Doctors have identified foetal hiccups as the baby’s preparation to start the breastfeeding mechanism while in utero. The imitation of this process results in the foetus experiencing hiccups.
  3. Compressed Umbilical Cord:
    An alarming and extremely serious medical condition in which a foetus is likely to get hiccups is when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck or compressed. This usually occurs in the second and third trimester of the pregnancy.

A cautious mother would be able to tell the difference in a hiccup when she feels the irregularity, reduced intensity or duration of the foetus’s hiccups. These changes should not be ignored as it may put your baby’s life in danger. The hiccups in this instance usually occur due to limited or absence of air supply to your baby. When you sense there is a slight to a drastic change in the hiccups or even the kicking in the womb, then you must seek medical attention immediately.

A pregnant woman admiring her belly

How Often are Baby Hiccups Normal?

All babies hiccup regularly for quite a long period of time and almost every day in the second and third trimester. That’s the period when moms are more aware of all the movements going on in there.

Health professionals believe that they start doing this by the first trimester of pregnancy. However, on account of their small size, mothers do not notice these movements.

When Can You Expect Foetal Hiccups?

Hiccups in the uterus begin in the early first trimester itself but are not obvious due to the fact that they are still in the early developing phase. The hiccups begin to occur in babies only after the formation of their Central Nervous System, which enables the foetus to breathe. They become apparent towards the last stage of the third trimester.

Is it Hiccups or Is Your Baby Kicking?

Initially, you will mistake your baby’s hiccups for kicking in the womb. But don’t you worry to-be-moms! You will be able to differentiate between hiccups and kicks once you study the movement.

The best way to understand if your baby has hiccups or is just kicking is by moving around. Occasionally, the foetus might move if they feel uncomfortable in certain positions in the womb. Also, it has been noticed that when mommies eat something hot, cold, or sweet, it triggers the baby’s senses.

Some of these movements can be felt in different parts of your belly, or they might stop if you reposition yourself. If you’re sitting absolutely still and you feel a pulsating or rhythmic jerking coming from one part of your belly, they might just be your baby’s hiccups. It takes a while to get accustomed to these movements, but you will be able to identify them apart pretty soon.

A pregnant woman having nutritious breakfast

How to Stop Baby Hiccups in the Womb?

Mothers become pro at identifying baby hiccups in the womb by 36 weeks. But, they are always wondering what could be done to tackle this problem. There are a few things mothers can try to ease foetal hiccups, but there is no sure shot way of curing your baby in the uterus. Doctors usually suggest following things:

  • Eating nutritious food with protein, as it helps relax the baby and reduce hiccups in the womb.
  • Consuming more water is suggested as hiccups may be due to low fluids in your body.
  • Resting and getting ample sleep or taking naps.
  • Pelvic rocks are another way to shift the baby and ease the hiccups.
  • Counting the number of kicks and its duration in the late stage of pregnancy will help you keep track of your baby’s movements and his progress.
  • Avoid holding your breath as it does not help you or your baby’s hiccups in the womb.

When Should You Be Concerned?

Mommies, when you feel there is a sudden increase in foetal hiccups, followed by a rise in the baby’s movement, be on the lookout. An ultrasound should be conducted immediately as your doctor will have a better idea as to what is the status of your baby. The earlier you catch the signs, the better.

Mommies, it is essential that you pay close attention to the baby’s movements just to help ease your anxiety about your little one. Regular consultation with your doctor and taking care of your health during the nine months is vital for a baby’s healthy development.

Also Read: Baby Kicking During Pregnancy