To see your baby’s first impression and its heart making a “lub-dub” sound on an ultra-sonographical monitor are some of the most overwhelming moments of a woman’s life. However, feeling the baby growing inside your womb is an ultimate experience altogether. It is that phase of your life when you feel great joy when your baby kicks and wriggles inside your tummy. In fact, these are the hallmarks of pregnancy. One of such hallmarks is fetal hiccups. It makes you feel that a tiny life is breathing inside you.
What are Fetal Hiccups?
Fetal hiccups can be defined as reminder that your baby is developing day by day. His or her nervous system is developing and the latter is practicing its functions of signalling his or her diaphragm and muscles to work. The baby sucks in amniotic fluid when the diaphragm contracts and this causes a hiccup effect. The baby is not in danger, as he still gets his supply of oxygen from the umbilical cord and through the mother.
If the fetus is not getting enough air, fetal hiccups can happen. If you feel; a sudden decrease in the frequency, do consult a doctor immediately to check for cord-compression.
Fetal hiccups are also the result of reflux development on nearing the date for birth. This will allow the baby to suckle milk from the mother’s breast.
Why Do Fetal Hiccups Occur?
There can be a number of reasons behind the occurrence of baby hiccups. Here are some specific reasons given below:
- As said before, contraction of the diaphragm is one of the main reasons behind fetal hiccups. When the diaphragm of the fetus contracts, the latter sucks in the amniotic fluid, causing the hiccup effect
- Cord compression is another cause behind the same. Therefore, sometimes doctors prescribe taking an ultrasonography to go to the root of the problem. Cord compression occurs when the cord wraps the neck of the baby and limits oxygen flow. However, this is a very rare occurrence
- Reflex development, which implies that the fetus is practicing or developing the reflex to suckle can also be a cause of hiccups
- Fetal hiccups can also occur when the brain Finds it necessary to practice any reflux from feeding to eating and expulsion of waste material. This is normal and very healthy. This process also strengthens the heart muscles and respiration
What Do Fetal Hiccups Feel Like?
Hiccups begin to show up after 9 weeks of your pregnancy after the development of arms and legs. However, you won’t be able to feel the same until you are about 27 weeks pregnant. You might get surprised to know that they occur once in every 3 seconds during the initial stages of pregnancy.
With the advancement of pregnancy, their frequency tends to decrease. You will be able to feel hiccups prominently in your last trimester, say three times per day.
Now the question is how to they feel? When hiccups occur most women get to feel kicking or turning inside their tummies. Fetal Hiccups can occur in rhythmic or jerky movements, once or more number of times a day.
It is really a positive sign and shows that your baby is active and healthy. However, exceptions do exist – some women don’t feel hiccups at all, but still give birth to healthy babies.
Fetal Hiccups – How Often is Normal?
Fetal hiccups can occur almost any time when your unborn baby’s brain thinks – yes, it’s the time to practice some reflex. Jokes apart, they are good in the majority of the cases. Moreover, frequent hiccups strengthen the heart and respiratory muscles of your baby. However, it is always wise to see to your doctor regularly when you are pregnant.
Fetal Hiccups – Cause of Worry?
Thousands of expectant mothers are worried- Do these hiccups cause any kind of discomfort to the babies? Well, the answer is no. As the lungs are still underdeveloped, they cannot process the oxygen. Thus, no choking or drowning can take place. Even after birth, when proper breathing starts, hiccups might occur. However, they are potentially harmless and fade away with time.
As the fetus grows and matures, it starts preparing itself for life outside the womb, and fetal hiccups are one of the preparations. Despite the fact that the baby is wrapped in amniotic fluid, he begins practicing skills as hiccups and breathing which are required once he is born. As the baby hiccups inside the womb, he ends up moving his internal muscles separating the chest and the abdominal cavities (diaphragm) up and down. This is a healthy sign and is nothing to be worried about.
Baby hiccups are something that most pregnant woman experiences at least once – though many babies would also give you these tiny spasms every day, sometimes even multiple times. Mothers are advised not to be overly concerned of the hiccups and just note their frequency like for fetal kicks. Unnecessary anxiety needs to be avoided and it is important to stay calm. Mothers can soothe their babies by singing, talking and meditation.