At 17 weeks, you’re in the fourth month of your pregnancy and you’ve got only about 5 months left to go! Around this time, your body is making certain adjustments to allow for sufficient space for the growth spurt that your baby is about to experience.
Your baby is still developing steadily, the skeleton is forming, and of course, your baby can hear sounds and voices at this time.
The placenta is also getting larger to keep up with its nourishment and waste management function. At this time, the placenta isn’t fully developed and would typically weigh about 500g at the end of your pregnancy.
Your waist would begin to show less and less due to the movement of your womb up and out of your pelvis. This is why you would start to look pregnant and this period is accompanied by a glow that is characteristic of the second trimester.
Hair loss slows down, and you have rich and glossy hair. Your skin would also look very radiant thanks to an increase in the volume of blood and the action of hormones.
This may not occur in every woman, however. Some women start to feel very unattractive and out of sorts as a result of their rapidly changing body and the responsibilities that come with becoming a mother.
Hormones are known to blow things out of proportion, so, if you start to feel anxious or stressed, they help to prod these feelings along. If you feel this way, don’t be embarrassed to share. 1 out of 10 women get these feelings while pregnant, so it isn’t as uncommon as you think. You can talk to your doctor or your midwife or even your partner and you would feel better in no time.
Your Baby’s Development
Your baby is growing very rapidly at this point and would weigh about 5 pounds and be just over 5 inches long.
Your baby is now about the size of a pomegranate.
This is about the size of a pomegranate or a nail buffer. Your baby’s skin is still wrinkled and it has some fat to accumulate. By birth, your baby should have accumulated most of the fat and would generally look better.
This fat is known as adipose tissue and its main function is to store energy, protect your baby’s newly developing organs, provide insulation and of course, fill out wrinkles so that you have a baby that looks more like you.
This week, you should definitely sense some movement. Your baby’s heartbeat which was pretty random would begin to have a steady rhythm and would go as fast as 140 to 150 beats per minute, this is about twice as fast as your own heartbeats. This is because the brain has begun to regulate the heart.
Your baby knows that there’s a lot of sucking to be done when it is out of the womb, so what better time to practice than now.
Sucking and swallowing skills are being worked and reflexes that are badly needed for survival would be nearing perfection in the uterus at this very moment.
The placenta and umbilical cord are coming along nicely and the placenta is lengthening and thickening well enough to better supply the needed nutrients that your baby needs.
The umbilical cord already has thousands of blood vessels that are all working to transport nutrients and oxygen that they would tap from your body, straight to your baby.
Your baby’s ear bones are developing rapidly and now it would hear and may react to certain conversations or music.
Eyebrows and eyelashes are developing as well and although the eyes would still remain shut, there is constant movement underneath the eyelids.
Lines that would eventually form your child’s fingerprints have already developed, their mouth can open and close, and fingernails are already experiencing some growth.
Your Body & Symptoms
A pregnant belly can be quite the center of attraction with some people tempted to rub the newly developing smooth bulge. This is where you need to be firm and dissuade actions like this if you’re not fine with it.
This week sees some brand new developments such as higher levels of sensitivity to allergens and leukorrhea, a slight vaginal discharge that is usually milky white, thick, and sticky — you may notice it in your underwear. These developments are both perfectly normal.
Your baby’s movement isn’t the only thing happening right now. Your organs are also adjusting to make way for your uterus that is gradually making its way up.
Your uterus would typically be somewhere between your pelvic bone and your belly button. Its motion would push your intestines up and then towards the side of your abdomen.
Week 17 also sees you developing a dark streak that you would typically find around the middle of your stomach. This pigmentation change is pretty normal and is a result of your abdomen steadily expanding to make more space for your growing baby.
Fetus movements around this time would be pretty noticeable and you just might see these movements yourself.
Your hair, of course, gets thicker thanks to a reduction in the rate of natural hair loss and you would be feeling more energy flowing through your body.
As your bump gets more evident, you might feel your confidence building and your body gradually adjust to it.
Pain in your lower back and towards your legs may be an annoying sensation that you feel this week. This is because your baby’s growth may put some pressure on your sciatic nerve which is the largest nerve in the body.
It typically extends from your lower back and goes as far as the back of your legs. Therefore, any pressure on the nerve is felt mainly at the back of the thighs and around the buttocks.
Pregnancy rhinitis or congestion stemming from pregnancy is something else that you might be feeling and is known to affect up to 39 percent of pregnant women.
According to a study published in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2013, it is mostly rampant between the 13th week and the 21st week of pregnancy.
It has been attributed to hormonal shifts and blood volume increase that lead to mucous glands working extra time, leading to bouts of sneezing and stuffy noses.
1. A Healthy Appetite
Your appetite would be back with full force and perhaps a bit more force than usual. Gone are the days when you could barely keep food down.
Your days of getting super nauseous and always running to the bathroom are just about over. At this point, it would probably feel like you’re just not eating enough.
A combination of an absence of morning sickness and a boost in your appetite is a recipe for incredible weight gain. At 17 weeks pregnant, you would probably feel like you could wolf down an entire thanksgiving turkey if it was placed in front of you.
This increase in appetite is of course not your fault. Instead, your baby is signaling to you to eat more as it is getting bigger and needing more and more nutrients.
Weight gain guidelines during pregnancy would help you stay within the confines of how much weight it is safe to gain and you can also talk to your doctor if you’re underweight or overweight from the first trimester.
2. Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are one of the totally unavoidable parts of pregnancy. It is a badge of honor that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to have.
However, to keep them at a minimum, steady weight gain is your best bet. This would make the lines stretch very gradually. A sudden increase in weight could have pretty extreme effects.
Bearing more weight than you’re used to definitely takes a toll on your body.
You can ease this symptom by seating on a chair that supports you just great as well as a firm mattress that would keep your aches at a minimum.
Getting a cushion for your otherwise uncomfortable chair would also significantly ease your discomfort.
4. Occasional Headaches
The usual culprits include tension, fatigue, hormones. While ibuprofen may not be a suitable choice to relieve your headache during pregnancy, an acceptable alternative may be acetaminophen. However, you would need to see your doctor and get a prescription.
Measures To Begin To Observe
At this point, you should monitor your symptoms very closely. If you feel like anything is out of the regular, don’t hesitate, let your doctor know.
Chances of a miscarriage have significantly reduced, however, there’s still a slight risk. Symptoms like fluid leakage, intense abdominal pain, or vaginal bleeding should be reported to your doctor immediately.
If you notice that you’re running a fever, don’t take chances, do the needful and call your doctor.
Sciatic pains tend to get painful around this time and notifying your doctor is your best bet to get some lasting relief.
At this point, self-care can not be overemphasized. The health of your baby depends on the actions that you take now and on your own good health as well.