Why Does Baby Hiccups In the Mother’s Womb
Baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in the womb are totally normal. Many pregnant women feel them, and baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs can even be observed on an ᴜʟᴛʀᴀsᴏᴜɴᴅ. Your baby may have started ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘping late in the first trimester or early in the second, although you wouldn’t have felt them that early.
Just like ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in adults and kids, fetal ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs usually last only a few minutes and go away on their own. ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs happen when the ᴅɪᴀᴘʜʀᴀɢᴍ (ᴀ ᴍᴜsᴄʟᴇ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴏF ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪʙ ᴄᴀɢᴇ) ɢᴇᴛs ɪʀʀɪᴛᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴏʀ sᴛɪᴍᴜʟᴀᴛᴇᴅ. Tʜᴇ ᴍᴜsᴄʟᴇ ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴀᴄᴛs ɪɴᴠᴏʟᴜɴᴛᴀʀɪʟʏ – ᴏʀ sᴘᴀsᴍs. That spasm causes air to be sucked into the throat. As the air comes in, the vocal cords quickly close in response, producing the telltale “hic!” Of course, your baby in the womb isn’t ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜɪɴɢ air yet, and you won’t hear that “hic.” But you may feel your little one ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘping regularly.
What do ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in the womb feel like?
Baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in the womb feel like small, rhythmic, jerking movements. In the beginning they may be hard to ᴅɪsᴛɪɴɢᴜɪsʜ from your baby’s ᴋɪᴄᴋs. Many expecting moms start to feel baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs around the same time they feel other fetal movements, typically between 16 and 22 weeks. Some women notice that their baby has ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs sᴇᴠᴇʀᴀʟ times a day, while other women notice them only once in a while. And some expecting moms never feel fetal ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs. It’s all normal.
Why do babies get ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in the womb?
Not much is known about why babies ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘ in the womb, but one theory is that it could be a way for babies to regulate the amount of Fʟᴜɪᴅ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀᴍɴɪᴏᴛɪᴄ sᴀᴄ. Your baby starts to sᴡᴀʟʟᴏᴡ ᴀᴍɴɪᴏᴛɪᴄ Fʟᴜɪᴅ by week 13 of pregnancy. By mid-pregnancy, the amniotic sac contains up to 26 ounces of Fʟᴜɪᴅ. The thinking goes that pressure from a buildup of amniotic fluid prompts babies to ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘ and swallow the excess. Other theories to explain ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in the womb are that they play a role in lung maturation or are a result of your baby practicing ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜɪɴɢ. (Babies “breathe” amniotic fluid!) You may have heard that fetal ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs in late pregnancy could indicate a problem with ᴛʜᴇ ᴜᴍʙɪʟɪᴄᴀʟ ᴄᴏʀᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴜᴍʙɪʟɪᴄᴀʟ ᴄᴏʀᴅ ᴄᴏᴍᴘʀᴇssɪᴏɴ ᴏʀ ᴘʀᴏʟᴀᴘsᴇ. Bᴜᴛ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇᴏʀʏ ɪs ʙᴀsᴇᴅ ᴏɴ ʟɪᴍɪᴛᴇᴅ sᴛᴜᴅɪᴇs ɪɴ ᴀɴɪᴍᴀʟs, ᴀɴᴅ ʜᴀsɴ’ᴛ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴠᴀʟɪᴅᴀᴛᴇᴅ ɪɴ ʜᴜᴍᴀɴs.
In fact, fetal ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs are generally thought to be a good sign – and feeling your baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘ in the womb daily in late pregnancy is ᴀssᴏᴄɪᴀᴛᴇᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ʟᴏᴡᴇʀ ʀɪsᴋ ᴏF sᴛɪʟʟʙɪʀᴛʜ. Infants get ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs too, so you’ll probably see your baby ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘ once they’re out of the womb. Experts aren’t sure why newborns tend to ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘ so much, but one hypothesis is that ʜɪᴄᴄᴜᴘs may help babies get excess air out of their tummies.