Why Does The Baby Hiccup in The Womb? When Can You Start Feeling Baby Hiccups?

Ambili S Kartha

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Jul 09, 2020

Why Does The Baby Hiccup in The Womb When Can You Start Feeling Baby Hiccups
Reviewed by Expert panel

Pregnancy is a time of constant change. In the course of pregnancy, major persisting changes happen to the baby who grows from millimeters to around 50cms. There are several milestones he or she attains in the womb itself. Feeling the first movement in the womb is an overwhelming experience. When my third trimester started, my doctor had advised me to watch closely any movements that my baby makes. But after I crossed 32 weeks, I was told to count baby kicks, and not include baby hiccups. I was confused. Till then, I though all movements was the baby kicking in the stomach. But, as it happens, babies also hiccup in the womb.

Baby hiccups during pregnancy are quite a natural occurrence, though that may leave you startled for a while. Read to know what causes babies to hiccup in the womb, and what you can do if baby hiccups bother you. Baby hiccups are also different from baby kicks, and it is important to watch both separately. Continue reading to understand more about unborn baby's hiccups.

When Can You Start Feeling Baby Hiccups?

Fetal hiccups are commonly noticed during the late second trimester or early third trimester. Many moms feel the hiccups of the baby during the 6th month of pregnancy. However, like the fetal movements, expecting mothers start to feel the baby hiccups at different times. Most women start feeling fetal hiccups by the time they are 27 weeks, but by then they are already used to other baby movements as well and may find it difficult to differentiate.

What Does It Feel Like When Your Baby Has Hiccups?

It might be difficult to recognize hiccups from the baby's kicks. In between the kicks, if you start feeling a spasm or a long rhythmic movement or tiny jumping contractions in your belly, it's the sign that your baby started to hiccup. Hiccups of the baby can even be viewed on an ultrasound. If the baby's position heads up, fetal hiccups will be felt at the top of your abdomen. However, some babies never hiccup at all, and that is perfectly normal as well.

How To Differentiate Baby Hiccups From Baby Kicks?

It is quite natural that mothers, especially the first-timers cannot differentiate between the baby kicks and baby hiccups. Here are some tips.

  1. Baby kicks are quite strong movements that happen in various parts of the stomach and can start when you have a hot or a cold beverage or something sweet. Baby kicks stop when you change your position
  2. Feeling of a rhythmic jerking or pulsing coming from one area of your tummy when you're sitting totally still indicates the baby hiccups

How Frequently Will The Unborn Baby Have Hiccups?

Some babies get the hiccups several times a day, while, some others will have it once in a while some will have in a daily basis. There are still others who never hiccup.

baby hiccups in the womb

Why Do Unborn Babies Get Hiccups In The Womb?

The good news is there is nothing wrong with baby hiccups in the womb, and it is just a sign of proper development of the baby. Fetal hiccups are related to the diaphragm of the baby – as the babies practice breathing in the amniotic sac, they may hiccup. Hiccups also help to make the breathing movements stronger. Other benefits of the baby hiccup in the womb include:

  • Make the lungs of the unborn baby ready for healthy respiratory function after birth
  • Helps to regulate the baby's heart rate during the third trimester

What Causes Hiccups In Babies In The Womb?

There are several reasons and concepts regarding the cause of the baby hiccupping in the womb:

  1. To regulate the amount of fluid: One concept goes like this - as the amniotic fluid increases, its pressure urges the babies to hiccup. As a result, they swallow the excess fluid thereby regulating the amount of fluid in the sac.
  2. Contracting diaphragm: Fetal hiccups can be triggered when the diaphragm contracts and hiccups can only occur when the central nervous system has been fully developed. When the fluid enters and exits the lungs of the fetus, it can bring about the diaphragm of the fetus to contract fast. This fast reaction can result in the hiccups of the fetus.
  3. Cord compression: Sometimes, though very rarely, fetal hiccups are a result of insufficient air being received by the baby. This happens when the fetus is not receiving sufficient air as a result of umbilical cord compression. If the umbilical cord wraps itself around the baby's neck, it can affect the air that is available to the baby. This will bring about limited air supply or completely cut the air supply from the fetus resulting in fetal distress. Even though hiccups due to umbilical cord compression are comparatively rare, if the mother notices or feels a sudden irregularity, reduction in frequency and intensity or change in the duration of the fetal hiccups, she should seek immediate medical attention as the cord compression is a serious medical condition which, if ignored, jeopardize the life of a baby.
  4. Feeding reflex: Towards the end of pregnancy, those babies who are too edgy to come out, sometimes, prepare themselves to begin the breastfeeding mechanism beforehand. When they try to suck different parts of their own body, it might end up in hiccups.

When Should I Be Concerned About The Baby's Hiccups?

Hiccups are, in the normal course a normal reflex of the baby. But in rare cases, especially in later pregnancy towards the end of the last trimester, hiccups may be a sign of fetal hyperactivity caused by umbilical cord compression. Therefore, irregular and more frequent hiccups during this stage should be taken to the consideration of the doctor.

During the third trimester, fetal hiccups are an important sign that all is well down there. Monitor your baby's movement very closely and if you can feel fetal hiccups towards the end of your pregnancy, the chances are things are going pretty well there.


This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

1. › Pregnancy & Child ›  Do Hiccups Help Babies Learn to Breathe? - NHS
2. › Health & Safety › How to Get Rid of Baby Hiccups - FIO Health

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| Sep 23, 2019

Thanks for ur valuable information

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| Oct 25, 2019

This is informative

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| Jun 20, 2020

I felt some movement at the same place for about one hour thrice in a day but those movements were quite jerky.. I am 24 weeks pregnant now.. I am confused was it hiccups.. I am first timer.

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