At 17 weeks pregnant, you’re rapidly approaching the exciting half way mark, and your baby is starting to try to work out how to use its body. You’ll be feeling a fair bit of movement from the baby at this point, and you’re just going to have to get used to that for the next 23 weeks! There are a lot of changes going on in both your body and your baby at this point, so let’s take a look at what’s going on at 17 weeks pregnant.
What size is a 17-week baby?
At this point, your baby is likely to be a little over 5 inches in length, and weighs somewhere between 4 and 5 ounces. That’s about the size of an old cassette tape, which isn’t very large, but your baby is more than capable of moving around and making its presence felt at this stage! Of course, there’s a fair bit of variety in size and weight between individual babies, but most 17 week babies are somewhere around this size.
Your baby at 17 weeks pregnant
As you start to approach the half way point of your pregnancy journey, your baby is putting a lot of work in to growth and development. It’s not very big yet, but it has a lot to do! At this point, almost all of the baby’s bones will have started to solidify, developing from soft cartilage into hard bone. They aren’t as strong as they will be later, but they’re already fairly solid.
Your baby is also developing sweat glands, but don’t worry – there’s no risk of the baby sweating inside you! Babies don’t start to sweat until after they’re born, despite developing their sweat glands at this stage, and it often takes a few weeks after birth for them to be able to sweat properly.
The other major development at this point is the umbilical cord, which is growing much longer and thicker at this stage. That’s because when the baby grows and moves a lot more in the second half of pregnancy, the umbilical cord needs to be strong enough to stay firmly attached and long enough that the baby can move around a bit. This is effectively the lifeline between you and your baby, with veins that carry blood packed with oxygen and nutrients to your baby, and arteries that carry carbon dioxide and other waste back to your placenta to keep the baby healthy and growing.
At 17 weeks, your baby is starting to move around in preparation for life outside the womb. You might feel a few kicks at this stage, as your baby figures out what its legs are for, but they shouldn’t be too bad at this point. The main thing your baby is trying to figure out at this point is the muscle movements required for sucking and swallowing, so it can take in milk once it is born. Currently, it absorbs nutrients via the umbilical cord, but it won’t be able to do that after birth! At this point, your baby will be sucking down amniotic fluid in practice for sucking down milk after it is born. Some babies even start to suck their thumbs before birth – it’s good practice for sucking on a nipple!
Your body at 17 weeks pregnant
17 weeks pregnant is a great stage, and many people think of it as being a sort of sweet spot. At this point, most people find that their nausea has stopped, or if not, that it is at least much lower than it was a few weeks ago. The discomforts that come later in pregnancy haven’t started yet, so you’re in a calm, enjoyable stage where there’s nothing particularly uncomfortable happening most of the time. Enjoy this period, as it’ll be over before you know it! Let’s run through some of the biggest changes you’ll be feeling at this point in your pregnancy journey.
At this point, your body is just starting to practice for labor and birth. That means that you might start to feel the occasional Braxton Hicks contraction. These are practice contractions that are just your body getting the hang of what to do well in advance of actual labor. They feel like a bit of a tightening across your abdomen, and they are irregular and fairly minor at this point. If they start to become regular and increase in intensity, contact your healthcare provider.
The big thing you’re going to feel at this point is your baby’s first kicks! This usually happens somewhere between 17 weeks and 22 weeks along, and it’s always an exciting moment! Your baby’s feet are very, very small at this point, so it’s not going to feel like an actual kick – more like a sensation of gas or queasiness, or an odd fluttering sensation. You’ll get used to it soon enough, but it’s a strange feeling to begin with!
By 17 weeks, your morning sickness is probably a thing of the past. In some cases, that nausea might stick around for a bit longer than that. If it sticks around, mention it to your healthcare provider. It’s probably nothing to worry about, but if it’s still pretty severe then it might be hyperemesis gravidarum, which can cause problems with dehydration and malnourishment if you’re not careful. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to whether or not it’s anything to be concerned about at this point.
The other thing that you’re likely to notice at 17 weeks pregnant is changes to your skin. These come in two main varieties at this stage: increased melanin production, and stretch marks. Because of the increased levels of estrogen in your body, your skin will produce a higher level of melanin, darkening certain areas. That can lead to darker patches on your face, or the well known dark line down the middle of your belly. They’ll both fade after your pregnancy is over, but if you want to hurry things up a bit then there are creams available, and your healthcare provider should be able to offer advice. Stretch marks are also likely to happen, but there’s not much you can do about those. You can hydrate and lotion up for a bit of relief, but overall your skin type and genetics will have more of an effect than anything you can control.
Your life at 17 weeks pregnant
At 17 weeks, you’re hopefully feeling pretty good. You’re nearly half way there, and there isn’t actually all that much you need to worry about at this stage. This is a great time to get ahead on your birth preparations, and to start researching a few different things.
17 weeks is a good time to build up a solid support network of other parents to be. Nobody knows what you’re going through quite like someone who’s going through the exact same thing. It’s a great way to sort out emotional support, as well as sharing information, advice, and tips between you.
17 week tests
Between the 16 and 20 week marks, you may find that you spend a lot of time going through medical tests. There are two main types of test you’ll be having at this point: screening tests, and diagnostic tests.
Screening tests tell you the risk factor of your baby having any condition. That covers tests such as nuchal translucency tests, which test for general signs of a potential problem such as odd hormone levels or other risk factors.
Diagnostic tests have much clearer results. These are often more invasive tests that give clear information about your baby’s health, such as amniocentesis, CVS, or cordocentesis. These often require the taking of amniotic fluid or blood, and sometimes come with risks. Because of these risks, many parents prefer to avoid them unless a screening test highlights a potential issue or a family history of genetic conditions that might increase the risk.