Hiccups During Pregnancy – Causes & Remedies

Hiccups During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is nothing short of a roller coaster ride, as it brings along with it a number of bodily changes. The hormonal changes during this period cause many discomforts like belching, heart burn, nausea, indigestion and so on. A frequent bout of hiccups also is a very prominent side effect in many expecting mothers. It can be a little annoying as the spasm repeats itself every few hours, interfering with day to day activities.

What do Hiccups Mean in Pregnancy?

Typically during the end of the first trimester and the initial days of the second trimester, many expecting mothers experience recurrent hiccups. Primarily, it is a natural and common phenomenon. These frequent hiccups although very bothersome, do not indicate any trouble in the body and are not a cause for any major concern. Due to shortness of breath or due to improper eating habits, hiccups tend to occur too often during pregnancy and can be avoided by being more relaxed and slow especially while eating.

Causes of Hiccups

There are many reasons why pregnant women experience episodes of hiccups during their pregnancy. Some of them are,

  • Excess oxygen:

Generally during pregnancy, the capacity to inhale air increases by around 30 % to 40%. This is a natural mechanism of the body to oxygenate the foetus. However, this sudden increase in the oxygen intake causes a sense of breathlessness in the mother. Shortness of breath usually triggers the spasms in the diaphragm, which is known as hiccups.

  • Acid reflux:

Acid reflux during pregnancy is common phenomenon due to the compression of the internal digestive organs. Many a time a tendency to eat or drink quickly can trigger an episode of hiccups, which is why doctors usually advice expecting mothers to eat in a calm and relaxed manner.

Woman with acid reflux

  • Self-consciousness:

It is believed by many women that hiccups are a sign of healthy pregnancy. This theory tends to make them more self-observant and constantly watchful of their breathing pattern. When they do get a bout of hiccups, they focus their attention on it too much that they end up prolonging it further. Paying less attention and diverting the mind from it sometimes helps in bringing it to a stop.

What are Fetal Hiccups?

Around the second trimester, mothers experience a series of mild jerks in their baby bump. The first few times of these jerks can even get the mother worried, as it is usually mistaken as some kind of difficulty the baby is experiencing. With time, these recurrent jerks become more prominent and frequent. These are nothing but the baby experiencing a series of hiccups inside the womb.

When the baby is floating in the amniotic fluid, it tends to swallow a small portion of it. This fluid then enters the lungs and the baby pushes the fluid out through these spasms. This is a natural phenomenon that does not affect the baby’s oxygen supply in any way, as it receives it from the mother through the placenta. In fact, regular fetal hiccups are a sign of a healthy development in the baby as its refluxes are developing inside the mother. During the third trimester, the hiccups become very predominant and it can very exciting for the mother to observe a pattern.

Ways to Deal With Hiccups

There are some good old remedies that work to get rid of hiccups. These are very safe to control the hiccups during early pregnancy and can do the trick of immediately stopping the spasms.

  • Drinking water: It is a very common and well-known remedy for hiccups. The idea behind this trick is to drink one full glass of it in one shot. Continuously drinking a glass of water without any pause unknowingly holds our breath for a small duration of time. This, in turn, reduces the spasms of the diaphragm. Gargling with the water also helps in controlling the hiccups.
  • Deep inhaling: Taking deep breaths, in one go and holding it for as long as you can, abruptly stop the spasms. This technique fills the lungs and restricts the movement of the diaphragm. Care must be taken to not feel suffocated in the process. You can also practice other breathing exercises to engage the lungs. Breathing inside a paper bag is also a technique that may follow.
  • Lime and ginger: It is believed that sucking a piece of something strongly flavoured like lime or ginger can cease an episode of hiccups. A drink made out of lime, ginger and honey can also work wonders. Again, just like drinking the water, the juice also should be consumed in one shot to get effective results.Lime and ginger for hiccups
  • Sugar: Swallowing a spoon full of sugar is a quick remedy for hiccups. Strangely, this method works by distracting the mind from inducing the spasms in the diaphragm. The vagus nerve, present under the tongue receives a signal of consuming something sweet and send a signal to the brain about it. This shifts the focus from the hiccups and stops it from staying for a prolonged period of time.
  • Put your tongue out: Sticking your tongue out and simultaneously closing your ears again works like a charm on hiccups. In the process, you can take deep inhalations and exhalations to restrict the movement of the diaphragm.
  • Bend the Neck: Instead of closing the nasal passage you can also constrict the flow of air through your air pipe by bending your neck as forward as possible. This brings the spasms under control.
  • Drinking vinegar: A few spoons of vinegar can be consumed to stop the hiccups. Since it is acidic, it can cause heartburn in the mother. Therefore, it has to be taken in moderation.

Hiccups are minor discomforts that come along with pregnancy. They do not indicate any serious issue with either the baby or the mother and only reflect the body’s coping mechanism to some physical changes. With some natural remedies, these discomforts can be removed from the way of enjoying a beautiful pregnancy.

Also Read: Indigestion in Pregnancy