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I frequently feel my baby hiccupping in the womb; is it a sign of a problem?
Q: We are pregnant with our first baby and are confused and concerned why our baby is getting hiccups in the womb several times a day for a few minutes at a time. Does this indicate there might be a problem, or am I doing something to cause this?
Juanita Garden City
A: Dear Juanita,

As babies mature, they begin to practice some of the activities they will need to do after delivery. Despite the fact that babies develop inside amniotic fluid rather than air, they do need to practice movements necessary for breathing and hiccupping once they are born. In the last third of pregnancy, breathing motions are observed in cycles throughout the day and hiccups occur episodically several times a day. Fetal hiccups are completely normal and have been observed on ultrasound during the second and third trimester. When a baby hiccups in utero, it is moving its diaphragm up and down. (The diaphram is the internal muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.) While we don’t know of any particular maternal activity that can stimulate fetal hiccups, we do know that having your baby hiccup is a sign of good health and nothing to be worried about.