What are fetal hiccups?
Fetal hiccups are just 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 so are not used to processing oxygen. 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. After the baby is born and breathing begins through the nose and mouth, hiccups may still occur. They are harmless and will subside in time.
What Causes Fetal Hiccups?
Fetal hiccups may occur anytime during pregnancy and sometimes never occur. This really has no meaning or cause for concern. Below are more specific reasons for the hiccups to occur.
• Contracting Diaphragm. This is when the central nervous system is developing and is sending signals to the brain to contract the diaphragm so that the baby can begin to breath.
• 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. 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 begins to breast feed the baby. This is interesting and important because this reflex 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 advise 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. 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.
Always remember that a baby is growing inside you, changes will occur and most of these are natural. As Baby Arabia always recommend, if you are worried and something feels wrong don’t be afraid to ask for medical help. Better safe than sorry… Better to feel a little sorry than risk your baby’s health!