It’s week 17 of your pregnancy and in just the last two weeks your baby has doubled in weight! Your due date is edging slightly nearer with every passing day, and right around now, fatty tissue begins to form; it helps your little one produce heat and also plays an important role in metabolism. By now, the circulatory and urinary systems are functioning and hair on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

If you’re one of the lucky moms-to-be who hasn’t shown much of a belly up until now, that may have changed! It’s common for expecting women to have gained up to 10 lbs at this stage of pregnancy. You may also notice the return of your normal appetite in the last few weeks.

Your baby at week 17 of pregnancy

Your baby is 5.1 in (13 cm), weighs about 4.9 oz (140 g), and he/she is responsive to sounds. The subcutaneous fat layer crucial for thermoregulation is forming. The placenta is growing with the fetus. Many blood vessels in the placenta provide for the increasing demand for food and oxygen.

How big is your baby at 17 weeks pregnant?

The baby is around 5.1 in (13 cm) at this stage — this is roughly the size of a potato! The skin is loose and wrinkled and the fetus has a lot of growing to do; by the time of the delivery, he or she will fill out their skin more normally.

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Pregnancy week 17 fetal development

Around this stage of pregnancy, the fetus starts to look a lot more human. In addition to hair growing on the head, the eyebrows and eyelashes are also developing. The eyelids are shut, but the eyes themselves can move and the mouth can also open and close. The fingernails and toenails are growing, and your bundle of joy has also developed a firm grip!

Your baby’s been getting bigger and bigger over the last couple of weeks, and this means that he or she has needed a larger placenta. Remember that the placenta is the organ that supplies nutrition to the fetus, removes waste products, and fulfills other important roles. By the end of your pregnancy, the placenta will weigh around 18 oz (510 g).

Your body at week 17 of pregnancy

If you’ve been enjoying a relatively subtle pregnancy with very little belly to show for it, that’s probably over now! 

17 weeks pregnant belly

The definition of your waist will gradually disappear as your uterus moves upwards and out of your pelvis.

But there’s an upside too: at this stage of pregnancy, many women start to take on a glow that results from an increase in blood volume and a surge of hormones. This can mean glossy, thick hair and radiant skin. You may not feel very glamorous, but don’t be surprised if your partner notices!

One of the most noticeable signs at this stage of pregnancy is an increase in the frequency and strength of fetal movement — and this is usually an exciting milestone for most couples! Expect this to continue and increase in the weeks to come.

The first signs of fetal movement usually occur at around 18-20 weeks, but may be earlier than this. It’s good to be alert to any indications that your baby’s on the move, but don’t expect any dramatic, thrashing movements. At this stage of pregnancy, you’ll pick up any motion as bubbling, fluttering, or rolling sensations. These are a good indication that the baby is healthy and thriving inside your belly.

A few more weeks down the line and you’ll start to notice more vigorous movements — perhaps even to the point of being able to distinguish between punches and kicks! Don’t be alarmed by this; it does no harm to you or the baby.

17 weeks pregnant symptoms

It’s not uncommon for women to feel a little overwhelmed by this stage: as many as 1 in 10 report experiencing stress or anxiety at some point during pregnancy. There can be many reasons for this, but during the second trimester, many women feel a sudden realization of the responsibility they now carry for their growing baby.

At the same time, it’s also not unusual for women to feel unattractive in their new pregnant body and this can cause tensions in intimate relationships. Whatever the cause of any negative emotional experiences, it’s important for you to reach out to friends and family for the support you need.

At the very least, you can mention these things to a trusted health professional — they will be in a good position to advise you about the options for support and counseling that are available.

Here are some of the other symptoms you may be experiencing:

  • tiredness and difficulty sleeping
  • swollen or bleeding gums
  • pain on the side of your belly
  • headaches
  • nosebleeds
  • bloating or constipation
  • indigestion
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17 weeks pregnant ultrasound: do you need it?

If you’re like most women, you probably had your first scan between weeks 8 and 14. This is usually followed by another scan at 18-21 weeks. This is sometimes referred to as a dating scan because it will give you a reliable idea of your expected due date (EDD) and also confirm how many babies you’re carrying!

Some healthcare professionals may also refer to this as an anomaly scan — this is because it allows a detailed view of your baby’s appearance and overall development. It can pick up on a wide range of conditions, but not all of them. If you’re unsure of the benefits of this type of scan, your practitioner will be able to advise you fully and this can help you decide whether or not to request the scan.

In addition to scans, you should also be aware that tests for a number of serious developmental disorders (including Down’s Syndrome) are available to you at this stage. Your healthcare provider has probably already mentioned this to you and put things into motion, but if not feel free to flag it up and ask what arrangements need to be made.

17 weeks pregnant lifestyle

Your pregnancy may be a challenging time for you, but do your best to follow a healthy lifestyle. This will provide the best support for you and your baby until full term. Your diet should contain a wide variety of foods from all the recommended food groups, including a mixture of fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible. You should also aim to drink between eight and 10 8-ounce glasses of water (from all sources) a day unless your doctor recommends otherwise.

Sex at week 17 of pregnancy

Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, your sex life can continue as normal throughout pregnancy.

What to expect at 17 weeks pregnant – checklist

  • Look out for dizzy spells! It’s common for women at this stage of the second trimester to experience lightheadedness — you may faint or feel like you’re about to. This is unpleasant and can be upsetting, but there are a few things you can do to cope. Be careful to change position slowly, particularly when moving from lying to sitting or sitting to standing — if you start to feel dizzy, sit down and lower your head or lie down.
  • Now is as good a time as any to remember the harmful effects of alcohol on the baby. The best approach to alcohol during pregnancy is to avoid consuming it at all. A baby’s ability to process alcohol is different to an adult’s and it can have a severe impact on many critical aspects of healthy development. If friends and family encourage you to drink, remind them that it’s in yours and your baby’s best interests to abstain.
  • Do what you can to stay fit and healthy. One of the best ways you can prepare for your changing shape and weight is to maintain good exercise habits. Staying physically fit also means that you’ll be well prepared for labor and better able to recover after delivery. Try to continue with your usual routine of sport or exercise during pregnancy for as long as you feel comfortable — and even if you had no routine before becoming pregnant, why not start now?