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Why do babies hiccup in the womb?

If you ever feel your baby moving in quick, repetitive movements - kind of like popcorn popping in your belly - then they probably have the hiccups. You’re likely to feel hiccups in the third trimester, although they can be seen on a scan from the first trimester. Pretty amazing really!

Hiccups happen when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily. Foetal hiccups are completely normal (even if they are a bit freaky!) and are actually a sign that your baby’s development is on track.

For example, hiccups mean that your baby is able to breathe in and out amniotic fluid. Yep, that’s right, foetuses breathe in and out amniotic fluid in the womb as they start to use their lungs.

Hiccups also show that the diaphragm is developing as it should and the nervous system and reflexes are doing well too. Think of it as a practice for all the things they’ll need out in the world!

Every pregnancy is different. It could be that your baby is hiccuping several times a day or not at all, which is fine as long as you can feel other movements.

Note that if you’re counting your baby’s movements in the womb, hiccups don’t count. As always, if you’re worried about your baby’s movements, get in touch with your midwife.