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?
While we expect a lot of side effects during pregnancy, constant hiccups are not usually one of them!
We’ll answer all the questions you never knew you had about pregnancy hiccups, including what causes hiccups during pregnancy. We even have some tried and true tips for relieving uncomfortable hiccups — recommended by medical experts and experienced moms — to help you enjoy your pregnancy without the embarrassment of constant hiccups.
- Hiccups are caused by involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle.
- Hiccups can be a sign of early pregnancy due to other symptoms like nausea, indigestion, and stress.
- Pregnancy itself does not cause hiccups, but constant nausea or indigestion may lead to persistent hiccups.
- Hiccups do not harm the baby, but they can make it difficult to eat which can be detrimental to the mother’s health.
- Relaxation techniques like meditation can help to reduce the frequency and duration of hiccups.
What Causes Hiccups?
Hiccups are caused by involuntary contractions of your diaphragm. The diaphragm is a long muscular membrane — one of the main muscles of respiration. So hiccups are basically just a muscle spasm of your diaphragm (1).
Hiccups usually clear up on their own, but they can go on for days, weeks, months, or even years in rare cases.
Are Hiccups an Early Sign of Pregnancy?
Hiccups can be a sign of early pregnancy. This is because many 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 craving unusual foods more often or that you’re feeling a bit sick a few times a day, but your body notices.
Since 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.
Why Can’t I Stop Hiccuping?
Hiccups stop being a “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 nearly every day.
And if you’ve had an extended episode of hiccups before, you know just how annoying it can be when they won’t go away.
In A Nutshell
The biggest cause of hiccups 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 get hiccups.
Although you can avoid some of this, 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.
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 (2).
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 that hiccups harm babies. If you’re worried about persistent hiccups, you can speak to your care provider to set your mind at ease.
I Can’t Eat Because of Hiccups
Many women have difficulties with food during pregnancy. Morning sickness, worsened allergies, and food aversions are all common.
If hiccups are preventing you from eating, then you have double the problems — and all at a time when it’s essential to eat well.
If your hiccups stop 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.
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 like you’re starving, try to 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 may irritate your diaphragm indirectly, causing more hiccups.
If your diet is not a trigger for your hiccups or you don’t eat much before bed and still get them, they could be due to 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. With apps like Expectful and Headspace, you can 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 don’t eat properly or when we 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 make you 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?
It’s never silly to see your doctor about any health concerns. 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 may be a symptom of a physical problem.
These are some illnesses that can cause persistent hiccups:
- 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
Most of the time, hiccups during pregnancy 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.