For a couple of months or so, I’ve been feeling regular little flutters in my tummy that are like a heartbeat or pulse, or a gentle rhythmic tapping. These feel completely different to the baby’s usual kicks and more lately, rolls. The cause: fetal hiccups!
I find it so endearing that a tiny unborn baby can experience hiccups. Fetal hiccups could be caused by swallowing amniotic fluid, or perhaps they are simply practicing breathing before they make their big entrance into the world. Either way, they are a common thing to experience, as What to Expect explains: “Have you sensed an occasional flutter of faint but rhythmic tics? The baby probably has a harmless – and perfectly normal – case of the hiccups. (Not having them is just as normal.)” They may also happen after you eat something that might trigger them, such as spicy food. Personally I haven’t noticed any particular pattern – they seem quite random. Babycentre notes that hiccuping in the womb may indicate a hiccuping baby later on, and advises ensuring your baby is burped properly!
As with most things, it pays not to look too closely into what hiccups might signify. One member of the Babycentre community did just that, and found some scary American websites that suggested lengthy hiccups might indicate an entangled or compressed umbilical cord, adding that between 30-40 weeks hiccups should occur rarely. However, the main concern seems to be hiccups coupled with a lack of other movement, which may indicate distress (a lack of normal movement should always be a reason to contact your midwife anyway). So far, my baby’s hiccups seem to have lasted for a minute or less, and movement has been fine, so I’m not going to worry myself just yet. The NHS just factually states that “sometimes the baby may get hiccups and you can feel the jerk of each hiccup.”
In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying the cuteness of the hiccups, and will just have to hope that it doesn’t mean the baby will later bring up milk all the time… Must invest in more bibs just in case!