When you find out you are expecting, it is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. You begin worrying about your health and your baby’s health and every little thing that could affect either of you. Even having excessive hiccups in pregnancy can be worrisome since they can sometimes hurt your stomach after a while.
You don’t have to worry too much, though, because hiccups are very rarely serious and pose more of an annoyance than a risk.
Why Do Hiccups Occur?
“Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm — the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen and plays an important role in breathing.”--Mayo Clinic
We all get hiccups, pregnant or not. They are simply bursts of inhaling, to break it down in simple terms. It does seem, though, that pregnant women are more susceptible to suffering from these pesky nuisances.
The reason for this is because pregnant ladies take in and let out more air while breathing than when not pregnant. This means the lungs have more oxygen and therefore create those annoying hiccups.
Other causes during pregnancy are often linked to eating too quickly, eating too much or even laying down right after eating. In late pregnancy, you can blame your ever-growing bump for adding pressure to your diaphragm and for winding you more often, which then makes you inhale more air.
Foods to Avoid
Mostly, hiccups are physiological but there are foods that can contribute to how often you get the hiccups and how long they last. Hot and spicy foods, for example, can cause that flap of your esophagus to remain open and the diaphragm to expand, therefore making you hiccup more often.
The same is true for soda pop since the carbonation affects the same flap and can also cause you to swallow air. Although not technically a food, chewing gum is a common culprit that can be easily eliminated to stop hiccups from happening.
When you are eating any foods, it is important to chew well and take your time. This will help you avoid taking in excess air, and it will help your tummy digest those foods more easily, thereby aiding digestion and avoiding hiccups and gas.
Despite the fact that many pregnant women avoid alcohol for their pregnancy, it should be noted that alcohol can also give you the hiccups. So if you do decide to have one glass of wine very occasionally in your pregnancy, which is common in some cultures, you may have to avoid it simply due to the hiccups you experience afterwards.
Foods and Other Methods to Combat Hiccups
There aren’t many food options to combat those horribly inconvenient muscle spasms known as hiccups. However, it is said that a spoonful of sugar is not only useful in “helping the medicine go down” as Mary Poppins claims but also in stopping hiccups dead in their tracks.
If you are brave enough, you can also try biting on a lemon which is also supposed to help. Adding a teaspoon of table salt to your favorite yogurt and eating slowly may help some women with hiccups and give a boost of calcium at the same time.
There are other methods that people claim work, much of which are somewhat urban legend, but worth a try, including: sipping water slowly, asking a friend to scare you, and holding your breath.
Distraction methods work sometimes too, for example, asking a person to hiccup for you one more time if they have the hiccups puts them on the spot and often they disappear!
Naturopathic doctors recommend different natural methods to relieve the pain and discomfort (and sometimes embarrassment!) of hiccups.
Massage - do it yourself or have a loved one help by massaging the area at the front of your neck, just above the collarbone area for up to five minutes. This should help relieve your hiccups.
Nux Vomica - Okay, so you are probably thinking “What the heck is that?” It is a homeopathic remedy which comes in pellets and can be found at your local health food store. They assist in stopping the spasms of your diaphragm. These may not be suitable for pregnant women, so it is best to check with your doctor or midwife.
Visit Your Chiropractor - There are specific vertebrae which can be adjusted if hiccups become a frequent issue for you
Deep Breath Meditation - Focusing your breathing and slowing things down will eventually calm those jerky hiccups and also ease your mind.
Aggravating but Not Dangerous
Generally speaking, hiccups in pregnancy are not worrisome but are definitely bothersome. They can give you a stomach ache or hurt your throat and not to mention get downright annoying. There are several tried and true tricks to help ease your hiccups and without harm to your unborn baby.
It is important to mention, though, that if your hiccups are lasting longer than 48 hours, you should seek medical advice in case there is a more serious underlying cause.