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Fetal Hiccups

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Pregnant women have a lot of insecurities and doubts to deal with, especially if it is their first pregnancy. One of the many things that they experience is fetal hiccups during pregnancy. It occurs when the fetus breathes in the amniotic fluid. For any first time mother, it is important to know the complete details about fetal hiccups and how they feel.

What are fetal hiccups and how are they caused?

Fetal hiccups signify the development of a newly formed nervous system in the fetus. When the fetus first develops a working nervous system, he/she sends signals to the diaphragm so that it starts working. When the diaphragm contracts, the fetus sucks in the amniotic fluid surrounding him/her, which causes a hiccupping effect. Since the lungs are still underdeveloped, the baby has no risk of drowning or choking in the fluid.

Fetal hiccups during pregnancy is not a compulsory phenomenon. They may or may not occur at all, but in either case, they pose no threat to the mother or the child. There are many things that can cause fetal hiccups. Let’s find out what these causes are.

  • Reflex developmentFetal hiccups are common when the baby develops the reflex to suckle, which is when the mother develops the habit of breastfeeding children. Fetal hiccups during breastfeeding prevent the milk from getting into the infant’s lungs and choking him/her.
  • Diaphragm contraction – Contracting of the diaphragm is the first sign of the developing nervous system and also the first time the fetus starts hiccupping. The developing nervous system of the fetus starts sending signals to the diaphragm so that it contracts, allowing the baby to breathe. To compensate for the sudden contraction, the baby starts to hiccup.
  • Compression of the cord – Sometimes the umbilical cord wraps around the neck of the fetus, causing an increase in the number of fetal hiccups. The number of hiccups increases because the wrapped umbilical cord around the neck restricts the amount of oxygen flow into the fetus, thus increasing baby movements. Although it is not considered to be anything dangerous, it is always better to get it checked by the doctor.
  • Fetal hiccups during pregnancy can also be caused anytime the brain thinks that the baby is preparing to eat or feed or expel waste material. Fetal hiccups are also good for the heart muscles of the baby, and for respiration as well.

How do fetal hiccups during pregnancy feel?

Fetal hiccups during pregnancy can start anytime, from the first trimester to the third trimester. If they do start in the first trimester, the mother would hardly feel anything. However, if the hiccups take place in the second or third trimester, the mother is more likely to experience a soft kicking sensation in the belly. Any sort of movement in the belly is, of course, a sign of the good health of the baby. It is only towards the end of the third trimester that the mother really starts experiencing proper hiccups in the belly.

How should you deal with fetal hiccups?

During the first trimester, fetal hiccups are hardly noticeable. During the second trimester, they are felt more like a kick than anything else. It is only during the third trimester that the real hiccups can be felt in the mother’s belly. However, much like in the first and second trimesters, the mother has no reason to worry about these hiccups. All she has to do is keep monitoring the hiccups much like the fetal kicks, and tell the doctor if anything seems amiss. Sometimes the baby moves around in the amniotic sac too much, causing a little discomfort. In that case, the mother can go for an ultrasound and see if everything is alright. Most importantly, the mother should remain calm during this period and not panic because unnecessary panic is not good during pregnancy.

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