Pregnancy can be a scary process with many phases and alien sensations. Fetal hiccups are a natural process in the way a fetus breaths. The hiccups are a byproduct of the fetus breathing in amniotic fluid. Here we will take you through the phenomenon and show you haw natural and essential the process is. You will benefit by knowing the cause and what it all means to you.
What Are Fetal Hiccups?
Fetal hiccups are a beautiful reminder that the baby is growing inside you. He or she has a developing nervous system which is practicing its job of sending signals to the muscles and diaphragm to work. When the diaphragm contracts, the baby will suck in amniotic fluid and thus cause a hiccup effect. The lungs are not yet fully developed and thus are not used to process oxygen, so drowning or choking cannot occur. There is no danger or discomfort for the baby. Oxygen is still being carried through the umbilical cord which is the tube that is connected to the mother’s uterus on one end and to the baby’s belly button on the other and is cut at birth. After the baby is born and breathing begins through the nose and mouth, hiccups may still occur after this point. They are harmless and will subside in time.
How Do Fetal Hiccups Feel?
Fetal hiccups can occur during the first trimester in which case this will remain unnoticed by the mother. It is most common to be experienced in the second or third trimester. Women are more likely to notice turning or ‘kicking’ which is a great sign that the baby is active and many never notice a hiccup.
What Causes Fetal Hiccups?
Fetal hiccups may occur anytime during pregnancy and have just as equal a chance to never occur. This really has no meaning or cause for concern in either direction. Below are more specific reasons for the hiccups to occur.
- Contracting Diaphragm. This is when the central nervous system is developed and is sending signals to the brain to contract the diaphragm so that the baby can begin breathing.
- Cord Compression. Sometimes your doctor may order a diagnostic ultrasound test in cases where the hiccups are increased and more frequent. This happens because occasionally the cord will wrap around the neck of the fetus and restrict oxygen flow and will increase the baby’s movements and hiccups. In general nothing normal comes of it but it is better to see it on a screen and be aware than not.
- Reflex Development. Hiccups can occur when the fetus is developing the reflex to suckle. This is another ‘practice’ for when the mother breast feeds the baby. This is interesting and important because what this actually does prevents the milk from aspirating into the lungs and choking the baby.
- Others. Fetal hiccups are created anytime the brain thinks it is time to start practicing reflexes for everything from feeding to eating and expulsion of waste material. This is normal and very healthy. This process also strengthens the heart muscles and respiration.
How Should Mothers Deal with Fetal Hiccup?
When a mother reaches the third trimester, fetal hiccups can actually be seen. Most physicians’ recommend that this be treated much the same as the fetal kick and advises the mother not to be overly concerned about it. The mother can then monitor them as she would monitor the baby’s fetal kicks so that she can report them if they continue for an inordinate amount of time. In this way, the mother sustains no unnecessary anxiety. Occasionally, there may be some confusion as to whether or not the mother was feeling a fetal hiccup or just the baby moving around. This sometimes happens when you have an anterior placenta; this can double as a barrier. It is important that you remain relaxed and put yourself in a calm state when this happens. You can do soothing and bond promoting exercises for your baby like talking, singing, classical music or meditation.