The end of your pregnancy is finally approaching, and you are noticing every little change. It’s been a long two trimesters, and you’re hoping desperately that your third will be a breeze. Your doctor will likely instruct you to be conscious of any fetal movement so that he or she can help you make sure the baby is healthy. Usually, in the last trimester, your baby will move a lot, and a lack of movement should be cause for concern. However, as you are waiting to feel your baby move around, you might notice something shockingly strange. If you feel small, rhythmic movements for an extended period of time, your baby is having hiccups.

Baby hiccups are not unusual

It’s strange to think of a developing baby getting the hiccups, but it’s actually extremely common. Though they can occur in the first trimester, you won’t be able to feel them until your baby is larger, so most women don’t feel them until the second or third trimester. In fact, some babies get the hiccups on a daily basis.

As long as you know that fetal hiccups are causing the unusual spasms, they are absolutely no reason to be concerned. They are harmless, and they are usually caused by the development of the baby’s reflexes. However, even though the hiccups are perfectly normal, you should bring them up at your next appointment because they could also be signs that your baby is not getting enough air due to cord compression. However, cord compression is extremely rare and it’s something your doctor will check for on every ultrasound you get.

Check fetal movement

Fetal movement can be difficult to interpret since you’ll never be able to tell exactly what your baby is doing. Though, as a general rule, strange movement is always better than no movement at all, so the hiccups should serve as a reason for you to relax in your third trimester.

If you don’t feel your baby moving in the third trimester, make sure you see your doctor as soon as possible. Late in your pregnancy, you should be monitoring your baby’s movement so that you can tell if there are any irregularities right away. If your baby stops moving for longer than usual, it could be a sign that something is seriously wrong. If you feel that your growing baby has the hiccups near the due date, there’s a very good chance things are going well.

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Source: Christa Einspieler et al: Fetal Movements. They May Be Spontaneous, Yet There is Method in Them. Medical Radiology pp. 177-189 2011.