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What do baby hiccups feel like? Learn causes hiccups in unborn babies.

As a mother, you want to know what is happening to your child at all times. Unfortunately, until you give birth, you only have ultra sounds and the movements of your child are the only connection you have. Honestly, even technology does not do enough to help in your quest for answers. Yes, you get to know the well being of the child, the sex and the position. But, more importantly, you want to know what every kick and jab means. You want to know if the little angel hears you when you talk or feels it when you touch your tummy lovingly. But oh well, just like most mothers, hoping is what you have to live on.

We would love to answer every question you have but that would be a stretch. We can always start somewhere and today we will talk about baby hiccups! You probably didn’t know those existed before birth but they do. It is just one of those things that make pregnancy even more interesting.

Unlike baby movements, there is less information about hiccups and what they signify. It only makes the hunger for answers grow in most expecting mothers.

Baby hiccups play a vital role in the development of your child and more importantly, they can be used as a communication tool about the well being of your baby. Given the tiny bits of information, fully understanding hiccups, what they feel like and what causes them can be tough. The information is largely jumbled up which makes it confusing. Which is why we thought this would be a great topic to discuss. It makes for one more things to make you excited about your little one.

We will save you from having to book an appointment with your doctor. All you have to do is take a couple of minutes to go through this piece and we bet, you won’t regret it one bit! You will not only get answers to the biggest question, “What do baby hiccups feel like?” But also what they mean in the different stages and if you should be concerned about them or not.

First, you must be dying to know if your unborn baby has hiccups, if they do, what do they feel like, what causes them and most importantly, if they pose any danger to your baby? As a mother, the answer to one question is the beginning of another but we will try to answer all of them as they pop up and cover as much as possible.

How do you know if my baby is having hiccups?

Your first question has to be if your baby is having hiccups. Because babies and their development are so different, it would be hard to give a certain answer. But, chances are, the little guy has already had a couple of hiccup episodes but you misunderstood them for the usual punches and kicks. Deciphering hiccups in an unborn baby is a little tricky but if you know what it feels like, it’s unmistakable.

A baby hiccupping feels more like repetitive jerks usually more or less the same his heartbeat only that this time you can feel it. Unlike in adults, hiccups in your baby can last for as long as an hour and are usually experienced in the third trimester. Even though hiccups are largely common in babies and a fair part of their development, they do have boundaries. Normal hiccups should happen within the second and the early stages of the third trimester. Hiccups in babies occurring after week 32 of the pregnancy usually indicate that something could be terribly wrong with your baby. If that happens, you need to see a doctor.

What causes hiccups in unborn babies?

Now that you can tell if your baby has had or is having hiccups, the next big question is, what causes them? Imagine this, if you sipped on a glass of water the whole day, you would definitely suffer some hiccups. While babies do not take water, they do take in loads of the amniotic fluid that keeps them afloat. Some of the fluid might find its way into the lungs. To get rid of the fluid, the diaphragm contracts rapidly to get rid of the fluid. That rapid contraction is what is presented as the rapid jerking or pulsing which we call hiccups.

Even though the true cause of hiccupping is not really known in both adults and children there are a bunch of other theories that have been thrown around. It might be a great idea for you to know these. After all, the more information you have the better. The most common is that it is a reflex action that happens during the development process.

There have also been suggestions that the hiccupping is a critical process of the lung maturation process for the baby. The best part is, no matter how you look at it, it is not life threatening especially when it happens later in the second trimester and early in the third trimester.

Is it dangerous?

Considering that the fluid is in your baby’s lungs, your first concern has to be the risk of your baby ‘drowning’ if the fluid is not ejected out of the lungs. Before you start freaking out, the beauty and impressive nature of pregnancy kick in. The baby gets all his oxygen from the mother through the placenta. This explains why the hiccups can go for up to an hour without affecting the baby’s oxygen supply. But, the fluid has to be kicked out regardless of how long it takes. Nevertheless, because the baby has sufficient supply of oxygen from the mother, they never pass out or drown. Simply put, hiccupping is actually pretty normal. It shows normality and good development of the child as long as it happens within the appropriate timeline.

There are certain instances in which hiccupping should raise concerns for the mother and professional advice might be required. In such instances, it is best to see the doctor even for your own peace of mind.

When the baby has hiccups everyday lasting for more than 15 minutes after week 32 of the pregnancy.

If the baby has three or more hiccups in a day and it happens frequently
there was a study that was recently published by BMC pregnancy & childbirth about stillbirths. Researchers tried to explain that hiccups can be assign of hyperactivity caused by umbilical cord compression. In the research, it was found that increased hiccups occurring daily after 28 weeks and happening more than four times each day warrant a visit to the doctor.

If you notice any of these especially in the late stages of the pregnancy it could signal an umbilical cord complication. There are quite a number of complications that may arise with the cord. These include

  • Signifies changes to baby’s heart rate
  • Changes to the blood pressure of the baby
  • Build-up of carbon dioxide in the baby’s blood
  • A sign of brain damage
  • Indication of a stillbirth

These might sound quite damning and in some cases, it might be. Which is why you should see a doctor if the hiccups are too frequent. Keep in mind, that you should be worried about these signs in the third trimester after week 32.

When should you expect your baby to start hiccupping?

There is no solid timeline within which it is normal for your baby to start getting the hiccups. However, depending on the development, they should start experiencing hiccupping in the second or third trimester. This is around the sixth month of the pregnancy. However, just like the little movements and nudges, all moms will feel this at a different time of the pregnancy.

Once the baby has started hiccupping, the frequency of the hiccups varies. It can happen several times a day while in isolated cases, some babies might not get them at all.

Do I need to keep tabs on the baby’s hiccups?

As much is it is a normal part of development for the greater part, it is still important to understand hiccups and their frequency. Just like the kicks and rolls, hiccups communicate plenty about the wellbeing of the child. By understanding hiccups, you know when they’re just a normal occurrence and when they’re a sign that your baby is under distress. It’s a seemingly small factor but one that can potentially save your baby especially when you know how to get a read on it.

What is the takeaway?

In most cases, fetal hiccups are a normal reflex. They are actually a normal part of pregnancy and they offer plenty of exercise to the baby’s cardiovascular system. Understanding hiccups and what do baby hiccups feel like is a great way to know more about your baby and it is handy in letting you know when your baby is in distress especially in the late stages of the pregnancy. Now you have all the information you need with regards to hiccups. We did the best we could to cover everything but in the vase you have more queries ransacking your mind, you can always let us know and we can address that in the future.

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Hannah Tong

Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health.

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