Fetal Hiccups during Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

Fetal hiccups are produced by the contracting of your baby's still immature diaphragm.
Fetal Hiccups during Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

Last update: 29 April, 2018

In the following article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about fetal hiccups.
The bond between a mother and her unborn child during pregnancy is strengthened when we start feeling those much anticipated movements.
However, when our baby has the hiccups, we sometimes feel a bit concerned. 
You may be wondering: Why are these hiccups produced? Is it normal for a fetus to have hiccups?

Fetal hiccups? Are they normal?

There is no cause for alarm if your baby has the hiccups while you’re pregnant. It’s a situation that occurs often and is part of your little one’s development.

So yes, this is something that’s completely normal. These hiccups may last just a few minutes or go on for a half hour. 

The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that this isn’t uncomfortable for your baby. What’s more, many specialists consider hiccups as a vital sign.

Due to the fact that our baby is still growing and maturing, his diaphragm sometimes contracts and produces fetal hiccups. 

In other words, the hiccuping is caused by a spasm. The diaphragm is a muscle that, by contracting and relaxing, aids in breathing. It divides the thoracic cavity from the abdomen.

Hiccuping is the diaphragm’s way of exercising. It’s a means through which the muscle prepares for your baby’s breathing outside of the uterus, once he is born.

Remember that your baby’s lungs won’t fully function until birth; they take in amniotic liquid while in the womb.

This liquid enters and exits your baby’s lungs, producing contractions – hiccups – in the diaphragm, preparing your baby’s lungs for the future.

Fetal Hiccups during Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

When are fetal hiccups perceived?

You’ll be able to feel your baby’s hiccups more notably during the third trimester of your pregnancy. Whether or not fetal hiccups occur during the early stages of gestation is unknown.

If your little one has the hiccups, you’ll feel a series of constant, rhythmic pats inside your womb. This is how you’ll be able to tell the difference between fetal hiccups and your baby’s kicking, stretching, etc.

The function of fetal hiccups

These spasms that your baby experiences while in your uterus are part of her development. According to specialists, hiccups do the following:

  • Prepare the baby so that she can breathe on her own once outside the uterus. As stated above, the diaphragm is a muscle that aids in breathing, and fetal hiccups are caused by the contraction of this muscle.
  • Fetal hiccups are also linked to the development of your baby’s nervous system.
  • They’re related to the exercise of motor skills. Mostly, they’re related to the actions of swallowing and suckling. The ability to suckle is especially important once your baby is born, as it keeps your milk from entering her lungs.
  • The contractions that your baby’s diaphragm produce help to regulate her heart rate.

How to avoid fetal hiccups

While some common physical discomfort during pregnancy can be prevented or reduced, fetal hiccups cannot. In other words, there is nothing you can do if you notice your baby has the hiccups.

Remember, this is completely normal – healthy even – and isn’t at all dangerous for your baby.

Many babies continue to have hiccups outside of the uterus, after being born. This is because their respiratory system is still adapting to the outside world.

Fetal Hiccups during Pregnancy: Everything You Need to Know

Should I worry?

Fetal hiccups are something that seem strange, and maybe even bothersome at times. However, under normal conditions, you don’t have to worry, and there’s no need to see your doctor. 

In any case, if fetal hiccups last for several hours or days, then we recommend seeing your OB/GYN. That way, you’ll be able to rest assured that everything is alright and your baby is healthy and developing normally.

“Fetal hiccups are completely normal – healthy even – and not at all dangerous for your baby”

If you notice your baby has the hiccups, enjoy the moment. Sit down, place your hands on your belly, and bond with your beloved child.

This is also a great opportunity for your baby’s father, older siblings or other relatives to connect with your precious one.

Now that you know the reason behind fetal hiccups, you can relax and fully appreciate the experience.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.