Week 17 pregnant
Your baby’s body will begin to straighten out and the legs are getting longer. This week your baby has eyebrows and eyelashes, to match its hairy little body. Don’t worry though, unless your baby comes early, all that fuzz – known officially as “lanugo” – will be lost.
At 17 weeks pregnant your centre of gravity is changing. Trying to maintain a good posture will help you avoid backache and unnecessary muscular strain. If you have to lift heavy objects, remember to bend at the knees and use those large, powerful quadriceps in your thighs to help. Lift with your legs, not your back.
For some women, sciatic nerve pain is extremely troubling. This nerve runs from your spine, down your buttocks and the entire length of each leg. When the weight of the womb and your baby are compressing on this nerve, it can feel like pins and needles or a sharp pain in your bottom or legs. Try to shift your weight if this is happening and sleep with as many pillows as you find comfortable. By lying on your side, with your upper leg bent at the knee and supported by a pillow, the pressure on the sciatic nerve can be relieved.
Avoid putting pillows behind your knees or lying in the same position for long periods of time. This can lead to a pooling of blood and increase the risk of blood clots. Another useful tip can be when you are sitting, try to elevate your legs and rest them on a foot stool.
From around the time they are 17 weeks pregnant, some women find they need to wear a pregnancy girdle to support the weight of their abdomen. Don’t laugh! There’s a lot of comfort to be found in supportive undergarments. No one but you, and perhaps your partner, need to know.
Mommy! Pick me up!
If you have a toddler who demands to be picked up all the time, encourage them to climb onto your lap when you’re sitting down and then have a cuddle. Take their stroller when you go out, use a shopping trolley to contain them, or time your outings for when your partner is available. Pilates, yoga, water aerobics and physiotherapy can all help to strengthen the muscles which maintain the spine in its correct alignment.
Your physical changes this week
- Lots of extra blood supply to your own body could be making you feel hot and flushed, even if it is the middle of winter. You really aren’t the best person in the room to be gauging the temperature at the moment. Look at the palms of your hands and see how close to the surface of your skin your blood is. Even if you aren’t showing yet, red palmar lines are one of the signs of pregnancy.
- You could be noticing the veins in your legs are more visible and your legs are aching if you’re standing a lot. If you’ve had a baby previously, are overweight or have a family history, you could be more prone to varicose veins. Some women need to wear support hose to assist gravity in returning blood back up their legs. Try to lie with your legs elevated and sit when you can.
- You may have a head of hair which could be used to advertise shampoo. Usually hair goes through growing and shedding phases, but during pregnancy not much shedding occurs. Hence the lustrous locks.
- At 17 weeks pregnant, your nails may be looking a little strange. Many women find their nails become brittle, weak and flaky when they are pregnant. Paint-on nail hardeners won’t do you or the baby any harm, just use them in a well-ventilated space so you’re not breathing in the fumes.
Your emotional changes this week
- When you’re 17 weeks pregnant, a strange transitional time occurs. You may still not look as if you are pregnant, but your usual clothes are becoming too tight and you can’t just grab anything to wear out of your wardrobe. If something fits your tummy, it may not fit across your breast. Dressing has become harder. You could find yourself close to tears trying to decide what to wear and what fits. Go shopping! There is no end to the remedial effects of a little retail therapy.
- You could be feeling a bit scared this week and doubt your decision to become a parent. You may doubt your own ability, question if your partner is the “right one” to be your baby’s father, reflect on your own upbringing and even wonder if you are capable of raising a child. These completely normal doubts may flood your mind, probably in the small hours of the morning when our rational selves are not at their best. Speak with your partner and sit tight, these are the worries of almost every pregnant woman.
- If you’ve always been an independent person, this can be a challenging time. You may be getting to the stage where you need to ask your partner for help in practical ways. This doesn’t mean you’ve become dependent or less capable, pregnancy in many ways is a shared condition and he’ll probably relish the opportunity of feeling he’s contributing in some way.
Your baby’s changes this week
- Your baby is growing so quickly. Just in the last 2 weeks its weight has doubled and it measures around 13 cm from head to bottom.
- Your baby is still ultra skinny, with its skin stretched tautly over the little body. Blood vessels that are supplying your baby with oxygenated blood, are visible through baby’s translucent skin. If you measure your own heart rate (feel your inner wrist on the thumb side) and double it, this will give you an idea of your baby’s heart rate.
- Your baby has legs that seem almost disproportionate to the rest of its body. They are longer than the arms and are flexed at the knees and the ankles. Calcium has started depositing in their little bones, so keep on including dairy foods in your own diet.
- It is obvious on ultrasound at this stage, what sex your baby is. If it is a girl, her ovaries will contain all of the eggs she will have in her lifetime; around 3 million of them. If your baby is a boy, his testicles are still sitting high up in his abdomen. Tiny nipples are starting to become visible on your baby’s chest wall.
- Your baby’s primary, baby or deciduous teeth have formed in the gums and will play an important role in their oral development. Small amounts of fluoride, which you are consuming through your drinking water, will help form strong enamel on these and their permanent teeth.
- Your baby can yawn, stretch and make facial grimaces. It is still sleeping a lot but will have periods where it just wants to move and exercise those muscles.
- Your baby is forming fingerprints now. No two individuals have the same fingerprints and this is one of the truly unique markers that separate your little baby from anyone else’s.
Hints for the week
- Try not to stand up too quickly if you’ve been sitting down for a while. There is an automatic drop in blood pressure when we lie down and standing up suddenly, can cause fainting. Move into a standing position more gradually to allow your body time to adjust.
- If you wear glasses, consider having an eye check-up with your optometrist. You may find that you need a new lens prescription. If you are usually a contact lens wearer, you could even find they aren’t as comfortable as they usually are. These changes to the eye are common during pregnancy, though often resolve once the baby is born.
- Watch your hygiene if you are prone to rashes. The areas in your groin, under your breasts and in your armpits will all suffer the effects of heat and skin rubbing together. Shower as frequently as you need to and change your underwear often. Cotton is always preferable in helping the skin to breath and is more absorbent.
- Lie quietly at night and try to focus on what’s going on in your tummy. You may be able to feel the first flutterings of your baby’s movements, but if not, don’t worry.
Week 18 is the most common time for this to happen with first babies and week 18 is next!