fetal hiccups pregnancy

Fetal Hiccups Meaning, Causes And When To See A Doctor

As the baby grows, a pregnant woman notices different types of movements all through the day, and night. Initially these movements are lighter, but they start to get stronger with each passing trimester. The ideal time to experience baby moves is between 16th to 20th week. Like rolls, kicks, turn and jabs, hiccups is one of the body movements.

It is tough to identify hiccups as they are more rhythmic when compared to other movements. It feels like a pulse, or a twitch in the body. In this post we will see more about fetal hiccups, its causes, and signs to seek medical intervention.

About Fetal Hiccups

Fetal hiccups are experienced in the womb as little movements of the baby in the diaphragm. These movements are noticed when the baby starts to practice breathing. As the baby inhales air, the amniotic fluid goes into his lungs as a part of the process.

This leads to contraction in the diaphragm, that ultimately translates into hiccups. Fetal hiccup is a part of the development of fetus and there is no need to worry about.

Causes for Fetal Hiccups

Not every baby gets the hiccups. Doctors suggest Fetal Hiccups is due to the development of lungs in the baby. It is quite natural to occur in pregnancy.

  • One of the reasons for it could be due to contractions in the diaphragm that contributes to fetal hiccups in the womb. It could happen due to sucking in the amniotic fluid by the baby. This contracts the diaphragm, and leads to hiccup effect.
  • Fetal Hiccups can also be caused due to development of reflexes, when the fetus tries to suck thumb, or fingers.
  • Another reason for baby hiccups could be due to reflux action at the time of expelling wastes, or swallowing food from the body. It is seen as fetal hiccups. This healthy process strengthens the respiration system, and muscles in the heart of the fetus.

However, if you experience frequent episodes of hiccuping, then it becomes an issue. Doctors suspect it to be due to compression, or prolapse of umbilical cord in the body. The oxygen, and blood supply to the fetus gets limited or even get stopped.

In addition to it, there could be a few more reasons to for this problem to occur:

  • Slow heart rate
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • buildup of CO2 in the blood
  • damage to the brain
  • stillbirth

All these issues in fetus can be responsible for causing hiccups.

When should you see a doctor?

If a pregnant woman notices fetal hiccups on a daily basis, more than four times in a day, and after lapse of four trimesters, then she should seek immediate help from the doctor. The sooner you manage to receive assistance, the sooner you can restore your baby’s health. If there is an issue related to cord, a doctor will advise on proper steps to try and release pressure on that cord.

Ways to stop fetal hiccups

Fetal movements are obvious during pregnancy and shows normal development of the fetus. However, when you find that these movements are becoming very often, and are causing discomfort so much that you can unable to fall asleep, then in those cases, you need to try ways to reduce it.

Fetal hiccups are distracting in nature. There is no pain experienced by these movements. However, frequent body movement for continuous fifteen minutes or more, requires to implement ways to manage it:

  • Staying hydrated lower the discomfort experienced due to fetal movements.
  • lying towards your left side
  • use pillows to give support to your bump and lessen pressure from the spinal cord
  • eat a nutritious, and balanced diet
  • do moderate pregnancy friendly exercise approved by your doctor.
  • stick to a regular sleep time. Take naps in between the day whenever needed
  • Take a stroll during the episode of the hiccups. It can turn the position of baby, and even relax the diaphragm. This can also make your baby to sleep well.
  • Take a light meal that contains protein. It helps your baby to relax and make your baby sleep.

Also read: Vaginal Discharge During Pregnancy; Color And Meaning


Occasional fetal hiccups is a normal phenomenon in pregnancy. It is advised to pay attention to baby’s movements. Regular body movement of fetus indicates sound development of the baby in the womb.
An increased frequency, reduced or unusual movement can be a sign of a major problem. Quick medical intervention helps in prevention of these complications. Perform your regular pregnancy checks to ensure safe pregnancy at all stages.