You were caught unaware when your tummy did a slight jiggle last evening. “He must be up to some mischief,” you said to yourself. But, in one corner of your mind, you were concerned, hoping everything was alright. 

Well, you can banish your worries! It is only a case of fetal hiccups. Just like us adults, babies suffer hiccups in the womb too. Given below are some of the causes of those nasty fetal hiccups.

The Onset of Fetal Hiccups

Although fetal hiccups occur in the first trimester, they show up only in the late second or third trimester. In the first trimester, the fetus is very small. Therefore, the mother cannot feel any movements. 

The occurrence of hiccups is normal. It is harmless and does not cause discomfort to the baby. Some babies get hiccups daily, while some get them occasionally. They may also reoccur several times on the same day. 

On the contrary, if you have never felt your baby hiccupping, you should not get worried. Some babies never suffer hiccups in the womb.

How will you be able to distinguish between hiccups and fetal movements?

Expectant women start feeling fetal movements in the second trimester. The movements are varied, ranging from kicks to twists and rolls. The doctor also advises the mother to keep a note of the frequency of these movements as it serves a signal of the proper growth and development of the baby. The decrease in the movement often hints at a problem.

During the late second trimester and the start of the third trimester, the baby moves around a lot. It can become difficult to tell hiccups from other fetal movements. However, there is a difference. 

Unlike other fetal movements, Hiccups develop as short rhythmic movements. They continue for a specific period of time (a few seconds to a few minutes) and occur at regular intervals during this length of time. The stomach experiences slight twitches and jerks, and at times you can actually see the stomach jump to a beat.Fetal Hiccups

Causes of Fetal Hiccups

  • Development of Baby’s Reflexes – The fetal hiccups are a part of the development of the baby’s reflexes, those that he will use after birth. This reflex will help the baby suckle the mother’s breast and will prevent the milk from entering the lungs.
  • Contraction of the Diaphragm – Hiccups are linked to the development of the lungs and the central nervous system. As the central nervous system develops, the baby is able to breathe in amniotic fluid. The entry and exit of amniotic fluid from the lungs causes the diaphragm to contract to result in hiccups. This action strengthens the diaphragm and prepares the respiratory function for after birth.
  • Umbilical Cord Compression – Though rare, this is also a cause of fetal hiccups. This is a serious condition and indicates that the fetus is in distress. In this case, the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck, cutting the supply of air to the baby. The baby’s heart rate increases and it develops hiccups. Therefore, mothers must track -fetal hiccups. If it lasts more than 10 minutes, see your doctor right away. 

What can you do?

When hiccups strike, you drink a sip of water, suck on sugar or hold your breath. But, these remedies are not going to help your baby. You can also sit back and watch.

As we end, we would like to give you a piece of advice. The first time you experience fetal hiccups or the unusual spasms, you should bring the topic up with the doctor at your next appointment. Once he confirms them as hiccups, you can rest assured.

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