Baby Hiccups in the Womb – Is it Normal?

A pregnant woman can notice many changes in her body as her baby develops in her womb. If you are pregnant, you must have felt different movements. These movements will only get stronger as your baby pregnancy progresses and your baby grows. At some point, you will feel small, repeated spasms in your womb. You can mistake them as kicks but they are actually foetal hiccups. Experiencing short and rhythmic movements in the womb is common during pregnancy and these movements are known as foetal hiccups. Let us explore why do babies have hiccups in the womb.

What Causes Foetal Hiccups?

Doctors don’t exactly know the reasons for foetal hiccups. Not all babies have hiccups in the womb. It is believed that foetal hiccups are related to the developing lungs of the baby, but that’s not proven yet. Foetal hiccups can simply be a side effect of baby trying to adjust to all new things that he can. When a baby has hiccups in the womb, it is a sign that he is meeting his developmental milestones on time and that his progress is on track. While pregnant, it may worry you if you feel your baby’s hiccups in your womb, but doctors have identified the following reasons as to why hiccups are caused in the uterus.


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 the uterus 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 contract spontaneously.

2. Reflexes

Foetal hiccups help the babies in the uterus develop and strengthen their reflexes that control the movement of the windpipe after they are born. These reflexes allow the baby to feed without choking. Doctors have identified foetal hiccups as the baby’s preparation to start the breastfeeding mechanism while in the uterus. 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 baby’s neck or is compressed. This usually occurs in the second and third trimester of the pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you might be able to understand the different patterns of hiccups. If you notice irregularity or changes in the duration of hiccups, you should consult your doctor. The hiccups in this instance usually occur due to limited or no 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 help immediately.

Are Foetal Hiccups Normal?

Babies may have hiccups in the womb regularly and for quite a long period of time. You may start to notice your baby’s hiccups in your womb from the second and third trimester. But nothing can be said for sure, all moms feel foetal movements and baby hiccups at a different time.

Some babies get hiccups often while others may not experience them at all. Health professionals are of the opinion that babies start having hiccups from the first trimester of pregnancy itself but because of their small size, mothers do not notice these movements. Experiencing baby hiccups in the womb is a good sign and indicates that a baby is developing just fine. However, if you notice your baby’s hiccups after 32 weeks of your pregnancy, you should consult a doctor as it could be a sign of some problem.

When Can You Expect Foetal Hiccups?

Your baby may have hiccups in the womb right from the first trimester of pregnancy itself, but you may not notice them because your baby is 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 in the second and third trimester.

How to Differentiate Between Hiccups and Kicks

Initially, you might mistake your baby’s hiccups for kicking in the womb. But you can the difference between hiccups and kicks once you study the movement. The best way to figure out whether your baby is having hiccups or is kicking in your womb is by moving around. Occasionally, your baby might move if he feels uncomfortable in certain positions in the womb.

You will be able to feel your baby’s movements in different parts of your belly and they might stop if you reposition yourself. If you sit absolutely still and feel a pulsating or rhythmic jerk coming from one part of your belly, then it might just be your baby’s hiccups. It can take you a while to get accustomed to these movements, but at least you will be able to identify them apart pretty soon.

How to Stop Foetal Hiccups in the Womb

In a few weeks’ time, you will be pro at identifying your baby hiccups. Although foetal hiccups are not painful, they can be distracting. The episodes of foetal hiccups should not last more than 15 minutes, but if they do, it can make you very uncomfortable. Your baby’s hiccups can make it difficult for you to sit back and relax. There are a few things can try to ease foetal hiccups, but there is no sure shot way of curing your baby in the uterus. Doctors usually suggest the following things:

  • While sleeping, lie on the left side of your body.
  • Eat nutritious food; include protein-rich food in your diet as it can help relax your baby and reduce hiccups in the womb.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Sometimes, a baby may have hiccups because of lack of fluids in the body.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Counting the number of kicks and its duration in the late stage of pregnancy can help you keep track of your baby’s movements and his progress.

When Should You Be Concerned?

If you notice that there is a sudden increase in foetal hiccups, followed by a rise in the baby’s movement, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor will most likely suggest an ultrasound to get a better idea about the health of your baby. The earlier you catch the signs, the better.

During pregnancy, it is important that you pay close attention to your baby’s movements to understand whether they are kicks, hiccups, or something else. If you have a fair idea of your baby’s movements, you will be less anxious. You should also consult with your doctor regularly to make sure that your pregnancy is progressing just fine. Take good care of yourselves during the nine months of your pregnancy, and your baby will be healthy and happy!

References and Resources: MedicalNewsToday

Also Read: Baby Kicking During Pregnancy