Pregnancy is a roller-coaster ride for many-a-moms, while some of us do breeze through pregnancy smoothly. From dealing with constipation, heartburn, edema, and weight gain, to battling morning sickness, nausea and mood swings, pregnancy is nothing less than an endless journey of ups and downs. And if this wasn’t enough, there is another, much annoying pregnancy symptom- pregnancy hiccups or fetal hiccups as they are also known.
What Causes Hiccups During Pregnancy?
There are many reasons that may cause you to hiccup involuntarily many times during pregnancy, but hiccups during pregnancy mostly result from the contraction of the diaphragm as a result of eating or drinking too quickly. Some common reasons of hiccups during pregnancy are summed up as under:
- Shortness of breath: When pregnant, your breathing pattern changes, and you tend to draw more oxygen in for your blood to circulate properly and provide nutrition to the baby. Apparently, the change in drawing the air increases by about 30% to 40%, which is quite a large change. This excess inhale-exhale process, especially during early pregnancy when the body is trying to adjust to pregnancy, can cause your nagging and annoying hiccups
- Indigestion: The abdomen goes through a series of changes when you get pregnant, and it is not uncommon to have episodes of indigestion during pregnancy. Pregnancy demands intake of food every few hours, and if you tend to stuff yourself at one meal, you may have to deal with hiccups
- Hyper-awareness: Pregnancy brings about a lot of hormonal and motility changes. You tend to be very, very aware about what is happening to your body and may start noticing these hiccups even more. This may cause hiccups to prolong, as you are more observant and conscious about anything happening to your body
Are Hiccups An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?
Scientifically, no, hiccups are not a generalised pregnancy symptom. However, because your body undergoes a lot of changes and it is in the earlier weeks that the body starts to adapt to them, many women feel that hiccups are a sign of pregnancy.
In early pregnancy, your system is new to swallow more and more air and is struggling to adjust to the new needs of the body, causing hiccups. Hiccups generally surface during the initial days of pregnancy, or late second trimester.
Related Reading: 18 Early Signs Of Pregnancy Before Periods
Fetal Hiccups – Why Does My Baby Hiccup In The Womb?
So, it is not only you battling those irritating and annoying hiccups yourself, your baby is doing that in the womb too. Fetal hiccups are a completely natural and normal occurrence, and happens because the baby learns to breathe in the womb. As she practices breathing there, she also inhales some of the amniotic fluid causing her diaphragm to contract to push the fluid out. You might feel tiny, small jerks just inside of your belly’s skin, just like you feel the baby’s heartbeat. Sweet, isn’t it?
Most mothers tend to feel a ‘jerky’ movement in their bellies during the sixth month of pregnancy, though it is dependent on fetal position, placenta and general health of the mother. Nevertheless, the last trimester is all about hiccups and breathing in babies, so you be well geared for this one! Fetal hiccups are quite common during the 36-37 weeks of pregnancy, and can be considered as signs of healthy baby in the womb. And, any absence of those warrant you reach the emergency asap.
How Many Times Does A Baby Hiccup In The Womb?
All mothers feel these rhythmic, jerky movements in the womb during the last stage of pregnancy, ie, the ninth month. So basically, baby hiccups in womb are at their prime from about 35 weeks- though mothers can experience them earlier too.
Fetal hiccups can be a multiple-times-a-day occurrence or they can just happen occasionally. Baby hiccups in the womb can last from about a few seconds to even a few minutes. Hiccups could strike at any time, any moment of the day, and is not related to baby’s development in any way.
Fetal Hiccups During Pregnancy- When To Call The Doctor?
If you notice multiple episodes of fetal hiccups lasting for more than 10 minutes, bring it to your doctor’s notice immediately. According to our panel gynaecologist Dr Ankita Patel Tayal, it could indicate a problem with the baby’s umbilical cord, which could have gotten compressed or wrapped around the baby. This can be especially critical during the last weeks of pregnancy. The doctor would probably like to check the baby’s blood flow rate and recommend an immediate ultrasound.
It may be mentioned here that increased fetal movement and hiccups during the last stage of pregnancy is associated with a decreased rate of stillbirth. This is why doctors recommend pregnant women to monitor fetal hiccups during the last weeks of pregnancy and to report any anomalies.
Related Reading: 9 Common Pregnancy Dreams With Their Meanings
How Can I Get Rid Of Hiccups During Pregnancy?
Though harmless, hiccups during pregnancy can be quite annoying and uncomfortable. There are some simple tips and tricks to get rid of hiccups and we are sure you will find relief with them:
- Get some water: Yes, we are all told to drink water when we hiccup and this principle holds true even when you are pregnant. Drink a glass of water in a single go and give rest to those hiccups. Some people believe gargling with chilled water can also put a stop to hiccups
- Pull out your tongue: Yes, we want you to stick your tongue out and scare away those bothersome hiccups. When you stick your tongue as far as you can, you diaphragm gets some ease of pressure and hiccups go away
- Limes, anyone? Nibbling on a piece of lime or a stick of ginger can help you get some instant relief from annoying hiccups. Get a wedge of lime, a small stick of ginger and some honey and blend in a glass of water. Instant drink that not only helps in fighting hiccups, but also wards away nausea.
- Sugar under the tongue: Putting some sugar under your tongue helps relieve the hiccups as it dissolves slowly. However, do not make it an excuse to get a mouthful of sugar to satisfy your sweet cravings!
- Breathing exercises: Because hiccups are a result of faster breathing, breathing exercises may just be the thing to get instant relief from them. Follow a rhythmic pattern of inhaling, then holding it for a while and then exhaling. Repeat this for a few times to get relief from hiccups
If the above remedies do not help to ease your discomfort with hiccups, paying a visit to the doctor would seem wise
Are fetal hiccups during pregnancy a serious issue?
Normally, hiccups are not indicative of anything serious for you or your baby, but since anything can make a new pregnant woman worry, there is no harm in seeing a doctor and seeking his opinion. If you are wondering when are fetal hiccups a cause to worry, the answer is when they stop suddenly or increase suddenly. At the end, it is all about the well-being of both you and your baby, and anything that may sound uncomfortable should be discussed with the doctor. If you are considering taking any medications for hiccups, make sure you consult your doctor first.