Hiccups are one of life’s mysteries. Sometimes caused by an irritation of the diaphragm, this annoying condition can happen to anyone, even babies inside the womb. Fetal hiccups are nothing to worry about – and may even be a good sign of a healthy baby.
Why Do We Hiccup?
Hiccups, even for fetuses, start in the diaphragm, which is the dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of your chest. When you inhale, the diaphragm pulls down to help pull air into the lungs and when you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and lets air out of the lungs.
When the diaphragm becomes irritated, it pulls down in a jerky motion which makes you suck in air via your throat quickly. When the air coming in hits your voice box, you are left with a hiccup sound.
What irritates a diaphragm? Eating too much or too fast, being anxious or excited are all potential causes of hiccups.
Fetal Hiccups: Scary, Normal, Or a Good Sign of a Healthy Baby?
A pregnant mom often feels hiccups, or hiccoughs as they are called in Europe, in the second trimester – they increase in frequency throughout the remainder of the pregnancy, and even into the neonatal period. What do a baby’s hiccups mean? There’s quite a lot of research on the topic:
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- Hiccups are a Good Sign: Vibroacoustic stimulation and fetal hiccoughs, researchers wanted to determine if applying a vibrating sound to a pregnant woman’s abdomen would increase or decrease the number of the baby’s hiccups. Researchers discovered that vibroacustic stimulation did not affect whether or not the fetus was going to develop hiccups, but the baby’s health did: Babies that did not get hiccups during the test were more at risk for eventual fetal distress.
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