Baby Growth at Pregnancy Week 17
You have officially entered week 17.
Your baby is growing all the time and at this stage, they are the size of an onion; about 5.1 inches long and 5.9 ounces.
Their external sex organs are fully formed. The kidneys are working and urination happens about once an hour. Your baby will also actually swallow sterile urine in the amniotic fluid which is normal. They are practicing sucking and swallowing while getting ready for a breast or a bottle in the outside world. The baby's taste buds are working and can now differentiate between sweet and sour sensations. Their sweat glands have also begun to form.
Your baby's umbilical cord and placenta are constantly growing as the pregnancy progresses. The umbilical cord becomes thicker and longer to provide nutrition to the baby while the placenta expands and increases circulation to bring nutrients and oxygen as well.
Hearing is progressing leaps and bounds this week. Ears are almost fully formed and they can begin to hear your voice. Loud noises can even startle your baby in the womb.
Your baby is growing and getting stronger every day as the muscles and bones continue to develop and mature. Their skeleton is changing from soft cartilage to bone. Fingerprints have also formed. The little pads on your baby's fingertips and toes will be covered in intricate swirls and folds, making your baby one of a kind!
Your baby's heartbeat is now more regular and regulated by the brain, so no more random beats. It produces 140 to 150 beats per minute, which is about twice the heart rate as a grown adult. Your baby's blood vessels are visible through its thin, translucent skin. Fat cells, for the first time, appear in the wall of the face, neck, chest and stomach. Fat is then added to the back, shoulders, arms, legs, and chest. This fat tissue has many important functions, such as storing energy, insulating the body, protecting organs, and plumping out the baby's features.
You and Your Body at Week 17 Pregnant
At week 17 of your pregnancy, your body is changing quickly to accommodate your growing little one. Your baby bump may also be starting to show. Your friends, coworkers, and even strangers may feel the urge to reach out and touch your belly. Be sure to express your feelings and wishes upfront if you prefer not to have your belly touched. It’s your body and your right to decline.
If you notice an increase in vaginal discharge at this stage, panty liners and pads may help. If the secretions change color or have an unpleasant smell, be sure to reach out to your midwife or doctor.
Experiencing more energy this week? What a welcomed relief from the fatigue you may have felt during your first trimester. It might also be time to consider shopping for pregnancy bras and maternity clothes.
"Eating for two" during pregnancy only means you’ll be adding 300-400 calories a day depending on your weight, so increase your daily caloric intake as recommended by your doctor. The quality of the food you eat, not the quantity, is much more important.
You may be gaining weight a bit more rapidly as things progress totaling around 5-10 pounds. It is normal to gain 1 to 2 pounds per week during the second trimester. If you notice that you are gaining weight suddenly or excessively, it could be indicative of a health problem, but not always. Be sure to reach out to your obstetrician if you have any concerns.
Typical Symptoms at Pregnancy Week 17
As your second trimester progresses, you may be one of the lucky ones with more energy and no symptoms. At 17 weeks, the symptoms popping up are most often due to the baby's rapid growth and development. Some of the more common ones can include heartburn, nosebleeds, headaches, and bleeding gums when brushing your teeth. Some other pesky symptoms still lingering this week include mild pain and nasal congestion.
You may also experience a general increase in body fluids. Fun, right? Vaginal discharge, sweat, mucus, and other fluids are in full force due to increased blood flow.
At least this symptom is harmless and mildly entertaining… Many women report having vivid dreams during pregnancy. Did you give birth to a chipmunk? Did you marry your boss? This can be caused by a mixture of hormones, nervousness, and anticipation.
Your stomach and breasts may start to itch. As the baby grows, your skin stretches and becomes more sensitive. Resist the urge to scratch and find a soothing skin cream that will soothe the itch. In addition to itchiness, stretching the skin can cause stretch marks. As you gain weight and your uterus continues to expand, stretch marks may be unavoidable (especially if you're 17 weeks pregnant with twins!). It is different for each woman and genetics plays a role as well.
With a growing uterus, stretched muscles, and changing hormones affecting joints and ligaments, it's no wonder back pain and pelvic pain are among the most common complaints during week 17. Studies show that about two in three pregnant women have lower back pain and one in five have pelvic pain.
Runny noses or pregnancy-related nasal congestion affects approximately 39% of pregnancies. An increase in blood volume and hormones can lead to increased production of mucus glands, leading to nasal congestion and sneezing.
Starting to feel a little off balance? As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts which may result in a bit of clumsiness. Try to avoid high-risk situations for falls. Wear low-heeled shoes to reduce the risk of falls.
Itchy and dry eyes are common throughout pregnancy as well. Using OTC lubricating drops may help. If you wear corrective lenses and they become uncomfortable, try wearing them for shorter periods of time. If you still don't feel well, switch to glasses until after you've given birth.
Dizziness in pregnancy often occurs around the 17th week of the second trimester. Per usual, the hormones, the growing uterus, and a rapidly expanding circulatory system are to blame.
Pregnancy Week 17 Tips and Advice
Take cold showers. Pregnancy is hard work, so it's natural to sweat more. Try to cool off with a cooler shower than you might be used to. Bonus Tip: Cold showers can help relieve aches and pains and stimulate blood circulation.
Stop the itch! Don't let itchy skin drive you crazy. Soothe your belly with natural aloe vera gel to lock in moisture. To double the hydration, combine aloe vera gel with a moisturizer containing vitamin E or cocoa butter to nourish your skin.
You should be eating around 2,200 calories a day to nourish you and your baby at 17 weeks. Focus on small meals consisting primarily of lean protein, produce, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.
Comfy underwear is key as your body continues to change and discharge increases as the weeks progress. Wear breathable cotton underwear to stay cool and dry. If you need extra protection, try a fragrance-free pantyliner.
Sleep on your left side. Avoid lying on your back as your growing uterus will squeeze major blood vessels which could reduce blood flow to your baby.
Keep moving! Standing still can lower your blood pressure and make you feel dizzy. Learn some relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, guided imagery, prenatal yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you stay calm and sleep better.
In the end, a new life breathes inside your body, and nothing can be more exciting than that. The third trimester will be here before you know it.