Do you find yourself hiccuping a lot now that you’re pregnant? Are you wondering why that is and what it could mean for your baby?
We expect a lot of side effects during pregnancy. Constant hiccups are not usually one of them! Women expect aches and pains, nausea, and even acne. These “little” things can cause big stress. Let’s break down hiccups, so it isn’t one of these things.
What Is A Hiccup?
Most people get hiccups from time to time. A hiccup is that annoying sensation when your stomach tenses up, making you catch your breath. This causes the typical “hic-cup” or “hic hic” sound that gives hiccups their name.
It can stop you from talking or eating normally, it can make you sick, and it can even completely interrupt your train of thought. But what are they? And why do they happen?
Well, weirdly, we don’t actually know, what we do know is that they are caused when the diaphragm involuntarily twitching. The diaphragm is a long muscular membrane that separates the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity; it’s one of the main muscles of respiration. So hiccups are basically just a muscle spasm of your diaphragm (1).
Normally hiccups clear up on their own, but in rare cases they can go on for days, weeks, months, or even years. (2).
Are Hiccups An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?
Hiccups can absolutely be a sign of early pregnancy, this is because many of the causes of hiccups are related to other pregnancy symptoms.
This is because many of the causes of hiccups are related to other pregnancy symptoms.
Here are some of the other reasons you might get hiccups:
- You’re short of breath.
- You feel sick.
- You have indigestion.
- You’re eating unusual foods.
- You’re stressed.
In other words, you might not notice you are eating unusual foods more often, or that you’re feeling a bit sick a few times a day, but your body does notice.
But because most women will notice a missed period, nausea, or breast tenderness first, hiccups aren’t a reliable sign. They’re just another one of those neat little early pregnancy symptoms that start making us aware of everything that’s going on.
I Can’t Stop Hiccuping!
Hiccups stop being a so-called neat symptom when they are constant. Some pregnant women find they are hiccuping all day and all night, waking up with hiccups, or having a random episode pretty much every day.
And if you have had an extended episode of hiccups before, you will know just how annoying it can be when they won’t go away.
In a Nutshell
The biggest cause is nausea and indigestion. When we are not digesting our food well, when we have just vomited, or when we feel about to vomit, we can start hiccuping.
Although some of this can be avoided, if you are one of the unfortunate women who have persistent nausea throughout pregnancy, your hiccups might be just as persistent. But once your beautiful baby is born all of the symptoms disappear.
Emotional stress and excitement can make you hiccup too. Even if your hiccups are caused by indigestion, they might be made worse by being too overexcited.
Practicing meditation, has many benefits, for you and your baby. And taking the time to slow down and relax may allow those pesky hiccups to go away (3).
Can Hiccuping Too Much Hurt My Baby?
Some women suppress their hiccups, worried the pressure of the belly tensing might harm their babies.
But there’s no evidence at all that hiccups harm babies. And if you are worried about anything persistent always speak to your care provider.
I Can’t Eat Because Of Hiccups
If hiccups are stopping you from eating, then you have double the problems — and all at a time when it is very important to eat well. It’s like our bodies are trying to get us not to eat.
If your hiccups are stopping you from eating, you might find it easier to carry some high carb, low sugar, low salt, low-fat snacks.
- Low salt crackers.
- Rice cakes or corn cakes.
- Unflavored popcorn.
- Dry cereal.
These are less likely to cause indigestion than other foods. And try to snack a little bit between hiccup episodes.
It might be tempting to have a huge feast as soon as the hiccups are gone, but this can make them start again. Even if you feel absolutely starving, try and pace yourself and snack on easy-to-digest foods.
Hiccups Are Keeping Me Up All Night
If your hiccups are stopping you from sleeping, then one of two things is likely happening, either your before-bed meal was too heavy or your stress level is elevated at night.
If you eat a large meal right before bed, snack in bed, or wake up in the night for snacks, you are probably not eating enough during the day.
- Try to eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day, when you are not so vulnerable to nausea or indigestion.
- Try to avoid fatty and protein-rich foods before bed.
- Limit acidic, spicy, and vinegary foods, these can increase acid reflux which indirectly may irritate your diaphragm which will cause more hiccups!
If your diet is not a trigger for your hiccups, or you don’t eat much before bed, and you still get them, it could be stress. The same way that anxiety at night can cause insomnia, it can cause hiccups.
In this case, you might want to talk to your doctor or a therapist about your concerns. This is when meditation can help you again, new apps are available like Expectful and Headspace to help you train your mind to relax.
How Can I Get Relief From My Hiccups?
We’ve already explored a few ways to prevent hiccups — eat a balanced diet to avoid indigestion and do not get too emotional or excited. Both of which are easier said than done normally but especially during pregnancy.
So what can we do when we inevitably don’t eat properly or when we inevitably do get excited? Here are a few tips to help eliminate hiccups:
- Have things that make you swallow. Drinking water, dissolving sugar in the mouth, or sucking on sour candy can all make us swallow, and that motion can help relax the diaphragm.
- Lie down to fight indigestion. If you have serious indigestion, lying down can help relax the diaphragm.
- Do breathing exercises. Practice deep breathing, slow your thoughts and in turn relax your muscles.
Although all these tips are worth a try, none are guaranteed to help. The only guaranteed cure for hiccups is time.
Is It Silly To See My Doctor About Hiccups?
Not at all! Chances are, if you want to see your doctor, you haven’t been having hiccups for just 2 to 5 minutes, right?
Normally by the time we consider seeing a doctor, we have had hiccups for a day, or we have had one or more episodes of hiccups every day for a week.
These are not normal hiccup patterns and are worth checking out, especially if you have had consistent hiccups for over 48 hours.
Hiccups that last this long are very rare and are often a symptom of a physical problem.
Illnesses that can cause persistent hiccups include:
- Breathing conditions such as asthma or pneumonia.
- Heart conditions such as pericarditis.
- Digestive conditions such as reflux, inflammatory bowel disease, or appendicitis.
- Nerve conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
- Metabolic conditions such as diabetes, or Addison’s disease.
- A hernia.
- An infection that is affecting the nerves in the gut.
- A bad reaction to certain medications or drugs.
Keep In Mind
Hiccups during pregnancy, most of the time, are nothing to worry about. They mean you are excited and nauseous, and they will go away on their own. They will not hurt you or your baby.
Unless you have hiccups for two or more days without relief, they’re just another annoying side effect of being pregnant.