In Week 17 of pregnancy, your baby bump will keep growing and it will tell people that you’re pregnant. In the second trimester, symptoms of pregnancy will most likely abate, and you might feel some fetal movements. Have some fun – like exercise, or going for a trip – and enjoy yourself while this “honeymoon” period continues. Week 17 is going to be a hectic one!
17 Weeks Pregnant: Weight gain and belly size
In Week 17, the uterus grows to the size of a melon. The fundal height – the distance from the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus – is about 15–20 cm. Although some women might have some trouble putting on weight at this stage, other moms will be putting on about 1 pound a week during the second trimester.
Your belly will protrude more with each passing day, and as the baby becomes heavier, you will naturally lean backward to keep your balance. This position puts stress on your body, and can cause lower back pain and constipation. If you do some stretching in the day and make sure you have a good posture be it day or night, then you will be able to change your posture for the better. You might also want to get some products that help fight lower back pain, like a posture brace.
17 Weeks Pregnant: Heartbeat increases
To support the fetus’ growth in the uterus, the amount of blood sent to the uterus increases by 30–50% during pregnancy, which puts an extra burden on the heart. The normal heartbeat at rest for females is about 70 bpm (beats per minute), but during pregnancy, it increases to about 80–90 bpm. This is because even the slightest movement can cause your heart to palpitate, and make it difficult for you to breathe. Take in iron actively and strive to have a balanced diet.
17 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of fetus in your belly
To fetus in belly: “Can you hear me?”
In Week 17, your baby might be able to hear you. The fetus is about 12–17 cm long and weighs 100–150 g. Although the growth rate differs from baby to baby, Baby is now as big as your palm and is growing at a fast pace. If your OB-GYN gives you the all clear for this week, then you can rest easy. Your baby is growing sturdier as fats begin to accumulate in the body.
- Bones continue to harden and can be seen via ultrasound
Ears and eyes move to where they are supposed to be
Parts of the face like the nose, ears, mouth and jaw can be seen via ultrasound
Fingerprints and toeprints start to form
Myelination begins. Myelination refers to the process of a white substance called the myelin sheath forming around a nerve. This helps in the transmission of messages, as well as increasing the speed at which transmission happens
Brown adipose fats accumulate in the body, which helps the fetus regulate body temperature
Cells that are no longer of any use and waste produced by the digestive system becomes waste material that is stored in the intestines
The hippocampus, which controls memory and auditory sense, develops. The fetus will be able to hear and recognize sounds when the hippocampus develops further
17 Weeks Pregnant: Boy or Girl?
Although in general the sex of the baby is confirmed in Week 18 or 19, some people will be able to tell the sex of their baby in Week 17 through an ultrasound scan. However, when babies curl themselves up in a ball and hold their feet together, or have their back turned towards the ultrasound device, the OB-GYN will not be able to tell.
You might be lucky enough to be able to find out the sex of your baby in Week 17, but even if you can’t, you only have to wait a week or so more! Also, the ultrasound scan or the sonogram might be able to tell you the sex of your baby, but do bear in mind that the results are not always 100% accurate.
For the fetus: Prenatal care
Week 17 is an ideal time to start prenatal care as the fetus’ auditory system is now developed. Studies have shown that sounds shape the child’s brain, stimulate the fetus and make them cry less at night.
However, although some studies have shown that there may be positive effects from exposing the fetus to sounds, the jury is still out on what this means for the child’s education and development. For example, there’s no proof that your baby will be a genius if you play them enough Beethoven in utero. Each child is unique, and the belief that your child will definitely be smarter if you start educating them early does not hold true.
Instead, consider listening to music or pleasant sounds as a form of relaxation. You can try listening to music, talking to baby, reading a picture book, or stroking your belly. Have you thought about which method you want to use in order to communicate with your baby? Baby is waiting to hear from you!
17 Weeks Pregnant: Prenatal Test
Prenatal tests are tests that help to check for abnormalities in the fetus’ chromosomes or determine if there are any congenital conditions.
There are many tests you can take, ranging from a non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT: test for Down Syndrome and other conditions), an amniocentesis (AFT: test for chromosomal abnormalities), to a maternal serum screening (MSS: risk of Down Syndrome, Edward Syndrome and neural tube defects).
The catch is that such tests do not always come cheap. Talk to your partner and your OB-GYN first before deciding whether or not to take these tests.
Fetus: Noting movement
Fetal movement acts as a barometer to gauge how the fetus is doing. Do try to take note of what you’re feeling each day and the type of fetal movements detected. For example, when the fetus moves about vigorously, it could be a sign that your surroundings are too cold, so make sure that you keep yourself warm. When you feel something is amiss and there is no fetal movement, call your OB-GYN for advice, or go for a check-up.
Symptoms subside: Seize the day! Do what you can today!
On one hand, the fetal movements in the womb might leave you feeling more relieved as you feel the presence of your baby more strongly. On the other hand, you might have started fretting over the impending delivery and infant care. As the second trimester is generally a good period in which the symptoms subside, you might want to start preparing for the delivery and for life after the delivery to reduce the stress that comes with motherhood. Dabble in new hobbies or do some light exercises to keep yourself feeling refreshed!