Baby Hiccups in the Womb

What are Baby Hiccups in the Womb Like?

All those little movements in the womb are amazing things. They let you know that the little bundle is awake, alive and moving around.

Once you get to the end of the pregnancy you start to notice bigger movements, jabs to the ribs, rolling around (literally), stomping on your bladder. You know, all the fun things about being pregnant.

But before you get to those stronger movements, you first get to feel baby hiccups, or fetal hiccups as they are sometimes called. Are they normal? Are they dangerous? What do they feel like?

Let’s answer all your questions because once you know what they feel like you will be able to recognize them from the rest of the dance party going on in your womb.

Why do they Hiccup in the Womb

Babies are learning how to do a lot of things while they are still inside of you.

Some of them learn how to suck their thumb, they learn how to move around, they learn the sound of your voice (and while it will sound clearer when they arrive they still can recognize it), and they are learning to breathe.

Yes, even surrounded by fluid the fetus is learning how to breathe and inhale.

According to the bump, they are trying to figure out how too get air into their lungs or at least the actions of it, and those hiccups are proof that they are developing.[1]

A hiccup is an indication that the diaphragm of your baby is developing correctly. It also means that the nerves that control the diaphragm are also working which gives them a good chance of survival once they make their grand entrance.

These are things that you shouldn’t be worried about and are good for the baby. Plus, they give you the reassurance they are still doing well inside.

But, that can’t explain why some babies hiccup a lot and others seem to not do so as often.[2] It’s all based on the babies development, how they are growing, or just because they don’t really hiccup in general.

So while your friend may feel them, you may not at the same point in your pregnancies.

What do they Feel Like?

Some describe them as small, rhythmic movements while others describe them as like the popping of popcorn.[3]

They can be long and rhythmic or short and jumpy[4], but whatever the case may be, if they feel like hiccups that you would normally have, that’s most likely what your baby is experiencing.

And while they might cause some disturbance with your regularly scheduled nap time, just know that they are preparing you for when they enter the world, by interrupting the most peaceful times, however, these little hiccups are adorable (my son had them all the time even after he was born).

Should You Worry?

In general terms, no. Hiccups can last up to about 10 minutes in the womb, and some are lucky enough to hear them at an ultrasound or a Doppler reading.

But one thing that is consistently mentioned is that if there is a change in the frequency or duration then you’ll want to contact your doctor immediately.

Sometimes hiccups can indicate there is an issue with the umbilical cord, from it being compressed to being wrapped around the babies neck[5].

If you are noticing an increase in the frequency and duration of the episodes, call and see if they can get you in for an appointment to make sure everything is okay.

Enjoy Them

That’s the key. As long as they are normal, you aren’t noticing sudden changes, etc., enjoy those little hiccups to the fullest. They are the tiny signs that let you know all is well.

After a while, you might not notice them but while you do it might be something you’ll want to write down in the baby book and then consider the same when your little one arrives.

Do they still hiccup all the time or have they figured out this whole breathing thing?

Enjoy these little moments, because soon enough you will find that there are so many things happening, so many changes you might not be able to keep up with them and the sleep deprivation as well.


  1. The Bump. Are Fetal Hiccups Normal? [link]
  2. See above #1
  3. LiveStrong. I’m Nine Months Pregnant and the Baby is Having Lots of Hiccups. [link]
  4. Mom Junction. What Causes Hiccups in Unborn Babies? [link]
  5. See above #3
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