If you’re reading this for some kind of guide to the ups and downs of pregnancy, I’m sorry.
Though the title of this article might lead you to believe that this will be some kind of Zen-strategy guide to coping throughout the duration of your pregnancy, it’s meant to be taken literally: how to fight the hiccups of pregnancy.
Yes, those spasms in your diaphragm that someone is supposed to scare out of you.
In other words, one of the hiccups of your pregnancy is… hiccups.
I’m funnier in person.
But homonyms aside, hiccups during your pregnancy are no laughing matter. I can imagine that they are one of the glorious pregnancy side effects that gives others cause for laughter, but for you, the woman spasming all over the place, the newly-pregnant mamma who can’t seem to eat anything or carry on the shortest of conversations without feeling like you’re going to hiccup, or worse, they are anything but funny.
In fact, hiccups during pregnancy typically arise from indigestion and shortness of breath.
And we’re not talking about fetal hiccups (which will come up at another point. Yay!). We are talking about you: newly pregnant, battling all of the leaking and bodily changes and strange metamorphoses, and now hiccuping.
When you’re pregnant, you might (67% of pregnant women, my doctor told me) have these in abundance; the nausea, the vomiting, the sudden tiredness, and the exertion your body has to make for what were once the simplest of tasks all directly impact whether or not you’ll begin (and continue) hiccuping as early as the first trimester.
So now you know you’re not insane and you’re not alone. Perhaps you feel better. You can breathe easily. Well, as easily as one can breathe through hiccups.
But, if you’re like me, there will be a definite point in your pregnancy where some of this “stuff” stops being miraculous and starts being annoying.
For one, I don’t hiccup like a cartoon mouse, all sweetly and demurely. My hiccups, which often decided to come as I was teaching, felt like suppressed burps. And because I was trying to suppress them, they hurt. And not only did they hurt, but they made my already ravaged with heartburn and nausea chest feel even worse.
So, you know what my doctor told me?
Hiccups are exacerbated by emotional stress or excitement. When you’re not pregnant, you might get hiccups after long bouts of crying, hysterical laughter, or inhaling food too quickly. Hiccups are your body’s way of helping you catch your breath and of telling you to slow down.
When you’re pregnant, it’s no exception. My doctor was kind enough to tell me that I needed to relax. Don’t talk so fast; don’t eat so fast; don’t drink too fast; don’t let my anxiety and questions and fears and worries and websites and comparisons to other pregnant women, and your nagging in-laws!
Exactly. That’s what pregnancy was like for me.
So, let’s literally take a breath and analyze this (with your feet up, preferably):
Patient, trusted medical information and support explains, “Hiccups are caused by a sudden contraction of your diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle under your lungs that helps you breathe in. The top of your windpipe (your glottis) closes immediately after your diaphragm contracts which makes the typical ‘hic’ sound.”
A hiccup is an automatic action of the body that you can’t control (a reflex).
So your reflexes, like a knee hit with a hammer, are jerking. They are rebelling against you. And like my doctor said, and I’ll say it again, you might need to relax.
It’s can’t be controlled, but it can be eased. Literally slowing down can help, but here are other options to prevent your lunch or breakfast from rearing its head after you’ve already eaten in.
Strategies to Cope with Hiccups:
- Sip iced water. Some websites will suggest chugging full glasses of water, but when you’re pregnant and have something (someone) resting on your diaphragm, chugging anything only makes things worse. So sip. Savor. And chew the ice, if necessary, to keep your mouth busy, combat nausea, and keep the airflow going.
- Keep one tablespoon of sugar under your tongue and wait till it dissolves (but check with a doctor first so gestational diabetes and blood pressure issues don’t add to your list of symptoms).
- Practice your deep breathing .(Which, by the by, will help you in delivery as well). Breathing exercises have also been proved beneficial for getting rid of a series of hiccups. So, you can also try them. One of the easiest among them is inhaling the air, holding it for a while and exhaling it slowly. You can also try breathing inside a paper bag.
- Gargle with chilled water. It has been found to be effective.
- Suck or nibble on a slice of lime or ginger: Nibbling a wedge of lime or a slice of ginger (fresh) can also help you fight this irritating condition.
You are not alone.
I feel like I end all of my articles this way (cue Michael Jackson music), but one of the most daunting parts of my pregnancy was feeling like I was all alone in my symptoms, my fears, and my questions.
But I wasn’t. And you aren’t. Hiccups are more common than not, and with the help of the support you find on this site, you will find ways to relax and enjoy your pregnancy (and the weird symptoms that come with it).