At the 17th week of pregnancy, a woman continues to be in the second trimester or 5th month of pregnancy. Both the mother’s body and fetus (baby) continue to grow. The ligaments (called round ligaments) that support the uterus thicken and are stretched. The uterus continues to expand, and the internal organs start repositioning to provide space for the accommodation of the growing fetus. The center of gravity changes at this stage, and the mother feels off balance. Most early pregnancy symptoms of the first trimester such as morning sickness, constant nausea, fatigue, and irritability subside by 15-17 weeks, and the mother usually feels emotionally active. This is because fetal metabolic and oxygen supply is taken by the temporary endocrine organ in the uterus called placenta. There is an increase in the weight and breast size, and the milk glands start developing for breastfeeding. The baby bump becomes more visible, and the uterus can be felt through the abdominal wall. A multiparous mother (who has more than one pregnancy) may start feeling the sensation of baby’s movements by this week or even earlier. If it’s the mother’s first pregnancy, it usually takes 20 weeks or longer to feel the baby’s movements.
Changes in the female body at 17 weeks
The second trimester is physically comfortable to most women because morning sickness lessens, and extreme tiredness and breast tenderness usually ease up. The umbilical cord gets longer and thicker to nourish the baby. These changes can be attributed to the decrease in the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) level and adjustments to the level of estrogen and progesterone hormones.
New symptoms specific to the 17th week starts to show up such as:
- Sciatic nerve pain (extreme pain felt occasionally in the legs because the growing fetus puts pressure on the nerve fibers)
- Rashes or new allergies
- Skin pigmentation on the face (mask of pregnancy)
- Lower back and pelvic pain
- Gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn and indigestion
- Vaginal discharge
- Weight gain
Fetal development at 17 weeks
The fetus weighs around 0.33 lbs and measures 13 cm from crown to rump. The fetal body continues to grow in proportion with its head. Its skeleton, which comprises the soft cartilage, starts transitioning to a solid bone, and the organs take a proper shape. The hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes grow longer, and they can open and close the mouth and move their eyes, which are still shut. By 17th week, the heart is now regulated by the brain and may be beating around 140-150 beats per minute. Most of the survival reflexes such as sucking and swallowing are being perfected in the uterus at this week.
Examination and test at 17 weeks
During the medical visit at 17 weeks, the doctors may measure the height of the uterus to gauge the baby’s growth and check the mother’s weight, blood pressure, and fetal heart rate. To ensure proper growth and anatomy of the fetus, the doctors may advise to undergo few screening tests to go for chromosomal analysis to rule out chromosomal aberrations and neural tube defects:
Special considerations at 17 weeks
The mother should consider the following things at 17 weeks:
- The mother should consume around 200 extra calories daily that will provide adequate nutrition for her health and the fetus.
- They should increase the intake of foods with omega acids because this helps with baby’s eye development and brain growth.
- They should stick to wearing flats or low-heeled shoes to address the change in the center of gravity due to internal organ repositioning.
- They should take proper quantities of multivitamins containing iron, folic acid, and calcium.
- They should increase the uptake of vitamin D for bone health and development.
- They should work on reducing stress and get lots of rest.
- They should continue physical activity in the form of daily walks. They should initiate pregnancy yoga under trained supervision.
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