As well as kicks, rolls, and jabs, a pregnant individual may also notice fetal hiccups in the womb. However, doctors do not fully understand what causes them.
Identifying fetal hiccups can be difficult. However, a pregnant person may notice that the sensation of hiccups is more rhythmic than other movements. Some people have described it as a twitch or pulsating feeling akin to a muscle spasm.
Pregnant people may start to feel the fetus move between weeks 16 and 20, but it can take longer in some cases. Doctors call the first fetal movement “quickening.”
Certain factors, such as the position of the placenta, can affect how soon a person feels their fetus move. The pregnant individual’s weight can also play a role, with those carrying less weight around their abdomen more likely to feel kicks and other movements sooner.
Doctors do not know the reasons why fetuses hiccup in the womb.
Not all of them will get the hiccups, yet others will get them often. Some theories suggest fetal hiccups have links to the developing lungs. However, this is not proven.
Even though it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why some pregnant people will feel their fetus hiccup in the womb, it is usually a good sign and a natural part of pregnancy.
However, in rare cases, fetal hiccups may indicate an issue with the pregnancy or fetus.
After 32 weeks, it is unlikely that a pregnant person will feel the fetus hiccup in the womb every day.
A person with worries about fetal hiccups should contact their doctor. To put their mind at ease, a healthcare professional can check the health of the fetus.
As above, most pregnant people will begin to feel their fetus move anywhere between weeks 16 and 20 of pregnancy or sometimes later. Some individuals describe the initial feeling as popcorn popping or a butterfly fluttering its wings.
As the pregnancy progresses, pregnant people can distinguish the movements and feel kicks, rolls, and jabs that can occur throughout the day and night.
Most of these individuals also become aware of fetal hiccups in the second or third trimester, though some fetuses do not get hiccups in the womb, and some individuals may never feel them.
A fetus begins to do many surprising things as it grows and develops in the womb.
As well as hiccupping, fetuses can kick, jab, turn, and roll and can even smell, see, and hear before they are born. Additionally, some may start to suck their thumbs in the womb.
Some experts say that eating a meal or eating or drinking something sugary can stimulate movement is a fetus, though this may not always happen.
While fetal hiccups can be distracting, they are not painful, and episodes should not last longer than 15 minutes.
However, some fetal movements can cause discomfort and make it difficult for pregnant people to relax or even fall asleep.
Some tips for reducing the discomfort of fetal movements include:
- lying on the left side of the body
- using pillows to support the bump and ease pressure from the spine
- eating a varied and nutritious diet
- continuing to exercise moderately, as long as it is safe to do so
- staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- sticking to a regular bedtime and napping in the day, as necessary
Pregnant people should keep track of their fetus’s movements.
Health experts recommend paying attention to kicks and jabs, as frequent, regular fetal movement suggests that the fetus is developing correctly in the womb.
If a person notices any unusual or reduced movement, they should contact their doctor immediately.
In most cases, fetal hiccups are nothing to worry about. However, if there is any reason for concerns about fetal hiccups, it is best to consult a healthcare professional. They can help ensure that there is nothing wrong or recommend treatment if necessary.
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- Frequently asked questions. (n.d.). https://countthekicks.org/faq/
- Henry, A. L. (2021). Baby hiccups in the womb: What is normal? https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.org/baby-hiccups-in-the-womb-what-is-normal/
- Horsager-Boehrer, R. (2015). Feeling your baby move during pregnancy. https://utswmed.org/medblog/fetal-movements/
- Hosker, S. L. (2016). What are fetal hiccups? https://www.projectaliveandkicking.org/advice/what-are-fetal-hiccups/
- Special tests for monitoring fetal well-being. (2021). https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/special-tests-for-monitoring-fetal-well-being