Causes Of Fetal Hiccups: What They Feel Like & Are They Normal?

Pregnancy is an exciting moment in a woman’s life. It brings about several changes in her body. Together with these changes, pregnant woman experiences the whole new set of sensations which she may not have experienced any other time. Fetal hiccup is one such feeling that majority of pregnant women experience during their pregnancy, especially in second and third trimester.

Many women pregnant for the first time are surprised to know that the baby inside their womb hiccups in similar way as they do. It is a feeling of rhythmic movement with mild spasm.

Hiccups are a natural process of breathing of the fetus. In fact, it is a practice given to the diaphragm; the muscle which helps in breathing.

Contraction of diaphragm makes the baby to breathe in or drink the amniotic fluid which in turn causes a hiccup. Sometimes even soon after birth, the fetus may hiccup although breathing may have begun through nose and mouth.

What Causes Fetal Hiccups?

Fetal hiccups usually occur in second and third trimester in almost all pregnant women. Sometimes they do not occur at all. There is not much to worry about if they do not occur.

The exact reason why fetal hiccups occur is not known, but here are some possible reasons suspected to cause fetal hiccups.

  • One of the reasons is contraction of diaphragm. The nervous system is well developed by the time fetus reaches second trimester. The brain sends signal to diaphragm to contract through the nervous system so that the fetus can breathe.
  • In some cases fetal hiccups occur frequently when the umbilical cord is compressed. Usually compression occurs when the cord gets wrapped around the fetus neck. This reduces blood flow to the fetus from the umbilical cord. Compression of cord is rare phenomenon to cause hiccups as it gets wrapped many times when the fetus is floating in the amniotic fluid.
  • It also occurs when there is development of suckling reflex. It is type of practice that the fetus gets for suckling mothers breast. After the fetus is born, suckling reflex prevents the milk from entering into the lungs.

What Do Fetal Hiccups Feel Like?

Fetal hiccups occur almost in every pregnant woman. In some it may occur more than once in a day. In some it may occur only few times in a week or seldom. Fetal hiccups usually are experienced in second and third trimester of pregnancy. But sometimes they may be even being felt at the end of first trimester.

Fetal hiccups feel like rhythmic movement inside the womb with short and mild spasm. They occur at regular interval and are quick lasting for few minutes. Sometimes fetal hiccups are confused with fetal kicks, but they are consistent and rhythmic.

Are Fetal Hiccups Good Or Bad?

Fetal hiccups are normal process of pregnancy. Doctors advise the mothers not to overly worry about fetal hiccups. In fact they are good for the fetus as it helps him or her to begin his suckling reflex.

Pregnant woman can monitor fetal hiccups in the same way as she monitors kicks. If in case the hiccups continue for a longer duration and frequently she has to inform her medical attendant. The doctor will carry out tests to find out whether everything is normal. In a way it also helps the mother to overcome her anxiety.

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