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17 Weeks Pregnant: Week by Week Pregnancy

Symptoms, Tips and Fetal Development

 

You’re in your second trimester of pregnancy when you’re 17 weeks pregnant and probably feeling pretty good. Your belly is definitely becoming more prominent, especially if you’ve already had a child or two, but if this is your first baby you might not be obviously showing yet.  Here are some of the things you might experience when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.

Baby at 17 weeks pregnant

Spread out your hand and you’ll have an idea of the size your baby is this week. That’s the equivalent of a crown-to-rump measurement of 5 inches and 5 ounces of weight. Beginning this week, babies’ bodies begin forming adipose tissue, aka fat, which will account for almost 70% of their weight at birth. Right now, though, your baby is skinny with translucent skin.

Even though your baby at 17 weeks isn't ready to eat food, his or her taste buds are starting to form. S/he's also practicing sucking, swallowing, and breathing, and is regularly pushing fluid out of his or her lungs. The bronchioles and alveoli are starting to form, and these next few weeks are critical for your baby's lung development. 

Your baby’s heart rate is now regulated by the brain and pumping at 140-150 beats per minute. In baby girls, the uterus and vagina are forming. Your baby’s becoming more active, engaging in a lot of rolling, flipping, and hiccuping. You might be feeling some of those movements, or you will very soon, which is always exciting!

Your body at 17 weeks pregnant

By 17 weeks pregnant, you’ve probably gained between 5-10 pounds and are boasting some obvious swelling in your lower abdomen. You can feel your uterus 1.5 to 2 inches below your belly button. It’s taking on a more oval shape and beginning to push your intestines upward and to the sides. All this expanding and stretching can cause short stabbing pains and aches along your sides, but they don’t pose harm to you or your baby. It’s just your body complaining a bit about all these pregnancy changes!

pregnancy week 17 embryo
Weekly development of a human fetus at 17 weeks pregnant.

Although your levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG have steadied, other hormone levels continue to increase. The progesterone coursing through your body when you're 17 weeks pregnant might have you feeling constipated. If you're having problems with your bowel movements, increase your water intake and consider adding more fiber to your diet. 

Additionally, you might have a stuffy nose on a regular basis. Before you take an over-the-counter decongestant, talk to your healthcare provider. Some of them should be used sparingly, or not at all, during pregnancy, especially if you have concerns about your blood pressure.

17 weeks pregnant ultrasound

A 3-D ultrasound may be recommended by your doctor if there are any concerns or suspicions about problems with your baby. Images from 3-D ultrasounds look almost like photos and can provide a very detailed look of your baby in-utero.

17 weeks is how many months pregnant? 

At this stage in your pregnancy, you are four months, 1 week (4m1w) pregnant. 

Common symptoms at 17 weeks pregnant

These are some of the most common symptoms you might be experiencing when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.

  • Leg cramps: Leg cramps are common in pregnancy, particularly in the second half, and can be caused by inadequate levels of calcium or potassium. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water and sleeping on your side. And if you can, avoid standing for long periods of time. 
  • Mild anemia: Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough hemoglobin-rich red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues. Anemia can cause tiredness, but unless it’s severe it won’t affect your baby.
    Breast growth: Your breasts might might now be almost two cup sizes larger than before you got pregnant, with more visible veins. You might notice that veins in your arms and legs are becoming more visible.
  • Slight increase in vaginal discharge: Thanks to an increase in cell turnover, it’s normal to have milky, mild-smelling discharge throughout pregnancy. It’s believed to help protect the birth canal and maintain a healthy vagina. Use unscented panty liners and never douche during pregnancy.
  • Lower blood pressure: Your blood pressure drops slightly in the second trimester due to increased blood volume. This can cause you to experience dizziness when you stand up too quickly, or in hot weather, so take care.
  • Increased appetite: As nausea fades, you might be feeling hungrier. Pregnant women need about 300 additional calories per day (so not a lot, really!). Aim to use them on nutrient-rich foods that benefit fetal development (with a few treats now and then of course!).
  • Back pain: Lower back pain in pregnancy is common, caused by loosening ligaments and the curving of your spine to compensate for your shifting center of gravity.
  • Heartburn: The increased levels of estrogen and progesterone have relaxed the muscles in your body, including those in your digestive tract, slowing the emptying of your stomach. When your expanding uterus crowds your fuller belly, heartburn is often the result. If heartburn is or becomes an issue, try eating smaller, more frequent meals. 
  • Constipation: Again, the slowed, cramped digestive system is to blame. Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water and increase your fiber intake to counteract constipation.
  • Making balance adjustments: Your uterus is now positioned higher and more forward, shifting your center of gravity and causing you to unconsciously adjust your posture and the way you walk and stand. It’s possible your belly button has started to stick out a bit!
  • Skin pigmentation: Whether it’s a linea nigra on your belly, darkening areolas around your nipples, shading in your armpits and inner thighs, or melasma (aka chloasma, the mask of pregnancy) on your face, skin pigmentation is a common side effect of pregnancy. All will fade and most will completely disappear after pregnancy.
  • Red palms and soles: You could experience redness and itchiness on your palms and the soles of your feet, again courtesy of your hormones. For relief try soaking them in cold water or applying an ice bag, and avoid things like hot water baths and wool socks and gloves that might heat up your appendages.
  • Increased libido: Many women notice they feel “in the mood” more often during the second trimester. Unless your doctor says otherwise, sex is safe during pregnancy. To note: The increased blood flow to your pelvic region can make your genitals extra sensitive (a good thing!), and your larger breasts might be extra enticing but also extra sensitive.

Pregnancy checklist at 17 weeks pregnant 

Here are a few things to think about when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.

  • Seek out comfy clothes: With your swelling belly and breasts, finding comfy clothes is essential.  Maternity clothes are designed to accommodate your changing shape, but if you have just a small belly at 17 weeks pregnant, you’re going to be drowning in them. While you’re waiting to grow into maternity wear,  you might also find consider a belly band or wardrobe extenders like these to help your favorite jeans or pants fit. 
  • Begin your birth plan: Now is an ideal time to start thinking about your birth plan. Your healthcare provider can help you learn about all your options. Many women choose a hospital birth, but others decide that a birthing center or even a home birth is the right choice for them.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration can happen quickly during pregnancy, especially if you're feeling nauseous. If you're having a hard time staying hydrated, add liquids like juice and flavored water to your daily routine. Try to avoid a lot of sodas, coffee, and tea since these can actually dehydrate you even more.
  • Kegels are key: If you haven't started doing Kegel exercises, now is a good time to start. After giving birth, many women uncover that their pelvic floor muscles aren't as strong as they once were. Kegel exercises can help reduce the occurrence of incontinence after birth.

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