Hiccups in a baby in the womb


The developing fetus is directly connected to the mother’s body. Only the baby’s nervous and circulatory systems work independently. Digestion and respiration processes are carried out through the placenta. Hiccups are actually related to these processes. In this article, we will explore the reasons for fetal hiccups and determine whether any measures need to be taken.

Why does the baby hiccup in the womb?

The process of fetal hiccups has not yet been fully studied by scientists. However, several main hypotheses are put forward regarding the phenomenon:

  • Swallowing amniotic fluid. Let’s start with the fact that hiccups are a reflex spasm of the diaphragm. The mechanism of its development is identical to hiccups in adults: fluid enters the organs of the digestive and respiratory systems. The baby in the womb instinctively tries to expel the amniotic fluid, which causes periodic diaphragmatic contractions.
  • Mother’s consumption of sweet food. Glucose can give the amniotic fluid a sweet taste. Therefore, the baby also wants to indulge in sweetness by swallowing as much fluid as possible.
  • Stress experienced by the mother. Despite the fact that the baby’s nervous system works autonomously, he or she can accurately feel the mother’s emotions. Therefore, if a woman experiences nervous tension, hiccups may be a response to her feelings.
  • Training for independent breathing. In the last trimester, the baby is preparing to be born with all his or her might: not only does he or she test the abilities of his or her body by trying various movements to come out, but he or she also tries to breathe on his or her own even in the womb. This indicates the correct direction of development of both the respiratory and nervous systems.
  • Fetal hypoxia. Lack of oxygen can affect the appearance of a reflex spasm of the diaphragm. This factor, unlike the above, poses a threat to the safety of the fetus. Therefore, to exclude hypoxia, it is necessary to consult a doctor.

When a woman first experiences fetal hiccups during pregnancy, she may mistake the traditional movement for this phenomenon. Let’s figure out how to distinguish between these processes.

How to tell if the baby is hiccuping?

We’ve already figured out why a baby hiccups in the mother’s womb. Now let’s find out how this phenomenon differs from the baby’s movements. The obvious signs of the baby’s diaphragm contractions are:

  • The rhythmic force of the fetal jerks. The sensation of a baby hiccupping in the womb is similar to internal pulsation or rhythmic tapping. Traditional movements of the baby, on the other hand, are chaotic.
  • The jerks are localized in the same spot. To do this, simply place your hand on the pulsating area. If there are no other jerks observed besides the specific area, it is a sure sign of fetal hiccups.
  • The hiccuping process is usually not accompanied by fetal movements.

These signs are markedly different from the usual movements of the baby, so a pregnant woman, by comparing the above points with her sensations, will never mistake these processes.

How often does the baby hiccup in the womb?

For the first time, fetal hiccups can be noticed around the 26th week of pregnancy, although this protective mechanism can manifest much later, up to the onset of labor.

The frequency of hiccups is a very individual question. In some mothers, the baby hiccups in the womb every day. Such attacks can occur 5-7 times a day and can last from several minutes to an hour. Other women do not notice any signs of hiccups throughout pregnancy.

Should you try to stop your baby’s hiccups?

It should be noted again that hiccups in a baby during pregnancy are a normal reflex reaction of the body to a foreign agent. Pregnant women should only pay attention to such processes to determine how often it occurs and the duration of such attacks.

You should only try to stop the hiccups if the baby’s hiccups cause discomfort to the mother. To do this, you can:

  • Change your body position or even take a walk in fresh air – the influx of oxygen will help relieve the diaphragm spasm in the baby.
  • If you know why the baby hiccups in the mother’s womb, for example, she is too nervous, you need to calm the baby down. To do this, it is enough to put your hand on your stomach and stroke it – the attacks will gradually start to subside.
  • Do breathing exercises. Deep inhaling and slow, steady exhaling will saturate the fetus with oxygen.

If you don’t understand why your baby often hiccups in the womb and are afraid for the baby’s well-being, it’s best to report this problem to your obstetrician. We will consider in which cases this should be done further.

When should you see a doctor?

If hiccups last longer than an hour, walking and changing positions don’t help, and the jerks that accompany the hiccups are accompanied by fetal movement, there is still cause for concern. A gynecologist will determine why the fetus frequently hiccups. To determine the cause, specialists prescribe:

  • Cardiotocography. The method is used to detect fetal hypoxia. The study involves counting heart contractions at rest, during movement, and during uterine contractions.
  • Ultrasound with Doppler. The examination is prescribed to assess the functioning of the fetal cardiovascular system, blood vessel filling, and any disruptions in the “mother-placenta-fetus” system.
  • Additional laboratory tests may also be prescribed based on individual pregnancy characteristics.

Gynecologists recommend recording hiccup episodes in a daily planner. The frequency, duration, and subjective sensations should be recorded for subsequent comparative analysis.

To avoid unnecessary worry, we have explained why fetuses hiccup. Although in most cases hiccups are not a cause for concern, if the hiccup episodes are prolonged and accompanied by fetal movements, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

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