Baby bump questions

Are Fetal Hiccups Normal? Why Those Little Spasms Usually Aren't Worrisome

Think of it as “practice breathing.”

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Fetal hiccups may surprise you, but they're usually normal.

People tell you a lot of things when you’re expecting a child, but no one can really prepare you for how it feels. At times, you’ll experience things that make it seem as though you’re living out a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kicks, jabs, gurgles, flipping, flopping — it gets wild in there, y’all. But perhaps one of the strangest pregnancy sensations is fetal hiccups. Yup, baby hiccups in the womb happen, more often than you might think. And even though you’re new to this whole mom business, you’ve probably already got the worrying sitch on lock. So, are fetal hiccups normal? Could they be a sign something is wrong with the little bun in your oven?

As with most things that happen in utero, baby hiccups in the womb are typically just another way your child’s body prepares itself for survival in the outside world — another natural (albeit unnerving) reflex. However, it is important to be in tune with your baby’s movements. The more you listen to your body, the more likely you are to pick up on any irregularities.

If your baby’s hiccups in the womb ever start to concern you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your obstetrician or midwife. But for now, keep reading to learn all about fetal hiccups and why they happen.

What do fetal hiccups feel like?

Now that you know they do, your next question might be a follow-up — what do they feel like? When fetal hiccups first occur, it may be a little alarming. But with time, you’ll get used to them, much like you get used to everything during pregnancy. If you feel a bit of a jerk, that’s likely a hiccup. They should never hurt, nor should they be something that disrupts your day. But you may feel your belly move differently when they happen.

You might ask yourself, “Is it hiccups or kicking?” And, well, that’s a great question. Kicks won’t be as rhythmic of a motion as hiccups. They’ll also be felt all over your belly (since feet can have some range), while hiccups won’t be quite as drastic.

It’s crucial to distinguish whether it’s a kick or hiccup if you’re doing kick counts. You should count kicks separately to help ensure the health of your baby.

When should I expect fetal hiccups?

Fetal hiccups are most common in the third trimester. Most people begin to feel the jerky and abrupt movements during their sixth month of pregnancy. However, this totally varies and may happen earlier or later, depending on the person. And for the moms who don't love the feel of fetal hiccups, after your 32nd week, you're less likely to experience them every day.

Why do babies get hiccups in the womb?

Consider hiccups to be more like “practice breathing” for your little one. As they take little breaths, their diaphragm contracts. When that happens, amniotic fluid enters your unborn baby’s lungs. It’s very scientific, and another reason why having a baby is a shockingly phenomenal thing to do. If you feel baby hiccups in the womb, consider it a good sign that their diaphragm is developing just like it should be.

Is it normal for baby to have hiccups in the womb every day?

You might be thrilled to know that it’s normal. But what if you feel fetal hiccups all the time? Most of the time, it’s normal. Some babies tend to hiccup more than others. However, if you’re feeling worried, it may be a good idea to check with your doctor. (Remember, it’s never silly to address any concerns whatsoever. If your OB/GYN makes you feel bad for asking questions, maybe it’s time to switch doctors.)

How do you stop fetal hiccups?

Fetal hiccups are totally harmless and not something you really have control over, but you can make the jerking less annoying. Fetal hiccups can cause discomfort for some pregnant people, making it harder for them to sleep or relax. To lessen the stress of fetal movements, follow these tips:

  • lay on the left side of your body
  • keep your body on a regular bedtime and nap schedule
  • exercise and eat a nutritious diet
  • use pillows to support your belly to decrease the weight on your back
  • stay hydrated

When should I be concerned about fetal hiccups?

If hiccups seem to increase a lot during the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you might figure that it’s “movement” and a way for your baby to let you know things are progressing. Yet, it’s far more common for a baby’s hiccups to decrease during this time.

While there’s no need to panic right away, there may be something troubling about the umbilical cord placement if hiccups increase. If you notice them happening more than four times daily after your 28th week of pregnancy, it’s definitely worth bringing up with a healthcare professional. That’s typically when issues when the umbilical cord may be addressed. But like with all things, your mother’s intuition is the best judge here.

You may be wondering, “Do hiccups lead to fetal distress?” The answer is not usually, but timing is everything. An increase later on in your pregnancy can signify something’s not right. But early on, when you first feel them, it’s more of a sign that things are developing just as they should.

The big takeaway? If your instincts tell you something is wrong, then nothing should stop you from contacting your doctor right away.

What else do babies do in the womb all day?

Babies do much more than "practice breathing" or hiccup in the womb. The time your bun spends in the oven is a fascinating journey. For example, did you know babies pee and poop in the womb? But no worries, the urine is sterile, and all waste is eventually cycled out. Babies in the womb can also suck their thumbs and see in the belly's dimness.

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