Causes of Hiccups in Unborn Babies.

Bayo Ajibola

Hiccups in Unborn Babies. Hiccupping Foetus.  What are Fetal Hiccups?

Pregnant women go through an interesting ride, to say the least. A lot of changes occur to their bodies, they get an urge to sleep but can’t really enjoy the sleep, normal bodily functions become almost out f their control and it takes a whole hour to accomplish a simple task that previously took them half the time.

Then there are those things that only she can feel and if she tries to explain to someone else they will look at her like she is crazy. Have you ever felt regular rhythmic pulsing movements in your tummy? You wonder whether it could be a heartbeat but then you ask yourself why your own heartbeat isn’t that close to the surface, so to speak. Isn’t it supposed to be a quiet affair? You can tell it is not the baby kicking or moving a limb so what is it? It could be a hiccup!

You read that right. It turns out babies start hiccupping when they are still in the uterus. It sounds a little odd though but scientists say that it happens mostly for good reasons and is actually an indication that your baby is in top shape! Doctors say that almost all pregnant women will experience this and some babies even hiccup daily. The spasms are different from other pregnancy movements you may have experienced. Foetal hiccups usually start in the second or third trimester but some start early in the first trimester.

Contracting diaphragm

If the foetus is mature, a contracting diaphragm can cause hiccups. For a hiccup to occur in the first place, the baby’s central nervous system must be fully developed. This is what gives the baby the capability to breathe in amniotic fluid. As the amniotic fluid enters the lungs the diaphragm contracts rapidly to expel the amniotic fluid thus causing a hiccup.

Developing reflexes

Hiccupping indicates a development of the suckling reflex. This reflex will allow the baby to properly suckle from the mother’s breast (once they are born) and keep milk from flowing into the baby’s lungs as they drink.

Cord compression

This happens very rarely and is not an instant occurrence. It happens gradually as the foetus moves inside the womb. Cord compression happens when the foetus’ umbilical cord wraps around its neck. This cuts off air supply to the foetus. The foetal heart rate then increases and blood flow to the foetus from the umbilical cord reduces. This then causes hiccups.

If a pregnant woman notices a sudden reduction in the intensity and frequency of foetal hiccups she should immediately seek medical attention. This sudden change may be an indication of cord compression.

The good news

Foetal hiccups are a common occurrence so please keep your socks on. Your baby is doing well and has a properly functioning central nervous system at this point! That should help you see it positively, right? These hiccups are more of a reflex movement and do not seem to cause any discomfort to the baby so don’t worry too much.

Your baby will actually benefit from them because they assist with regulating the baby’s heart rate in the third trimester. They also prepare the baby’s lungs for healthy respiratory activities after they are born. An ultrasound would give a great picture of what actually happens during foetal hiccups. They look like jumping or at least regular rhythmic movements.

Just imagine your baby regularly sipping on a glass of water (in this case the amniotic fluid) and you will have minimal issues with it. And to dispel any worries, your baby will not choke on the amniotic fluid. Its air supply actually comes from the placenta so all is well.


Bayo Ajibola

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