17th Week Pregnancy: Symptoms, Baby Development, Tips And Body Changes

17th Week Pregnancy

How Many Months Is 17 Weeks Pregnancy?

If you are 17 weeks pregnant, it means you are four months pregnant. Your belly looks more rounded now.

In this post, Momjunction explains how the baby is developing inside the womb in this week, the changes that are likely to happen in your body and the care you need to take. Let’s begin with the size of the fetus.

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How Big Is Your Baby?

The baby is about the size of a pomegranate weighing around 140g (5oz) and measuring 17.2cm (6.8in) in length from crown to rump (1).

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Baby Development At Week 17

Your baby’s body is now growing in proportionate to the size of the head (2).

Body partsDevelopment stage
SkinWrinkled and coated with vernix. Vernix is a waxy coating that protects the baby’s skin inside the womb.
LanugoFine hair develops on the skin
NailsGrown till the tip of the fingers and toes
MouthBegins to open and close
EyesEyelids are closed. Eyebrows and eyelashes are growing
FingersUnique fingerprints develop
HeartIt is developing and beats at the rate of 40-150 beats/minute
Circulatory systemFully functional
GallbladderStarts producing bile, which is essential for digestion
GenitalsDeveloping. Female fetuses have eggs formed in their ovaries
SkeletonSlowly transforming from soft cartilages to bones
Umbilical cordGrowing stronger and thicker
Spinal cordIt is getting covered by a fatty substance called myelin. Myelin protects and insulates the baby’s nerves and helps transfer the messages from the brain to other body parts through nerves
PlacentaIt is as big as the baby, providing oxygen and essential nutrients
Kidneys (3)Start passing urine every 50 minutes. The baby swallows urine present in the amniotic fluid
Taste budsDeveloping; the baby can differentiate between bitter and sweet tastes
IntestinesStart making meconium (the first feces of a newborn)
ReflexSucking reflex is developed. Baby starts sucking the thumb

In this week, feeling the wriggles of your baby is a whole new experience. So, how is your baby moving inside you?

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[ Read: 18 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms ]

Fetal Movement At 17 Weeks Pregnancy

You can feel slight movements of your baby inside the womb. This light feeling of movements is called ‘quickening’.

Women who are expecting for the first time may not recognize the movements and mistake them for gas rumblings. Second-time pregnant women can recognize these early movements of the fetus.

In addition to the fetal movements, there are several other pregnancy symptoms you might experience during this week.

What Are The Symptoms Of 17th Week Pregnancy?

Here are some of the symptoms you may have during the 17th week:

  1. Increase in appetite: You might feel hungry often as the developing baby demands more nourishment for its growth and development.
  1. Weight gain: At 17 weeks, your weight gain will be around 1-5lb (500g to 2kg). The weight increases by 1lb (500g) every week after the first trimester (4).
  1. Skin pigmentation: Some women may develop brown or black spots on neck and face, known as melasma (the mask of pregnancy). The hormonal changes are one factor for causing the spots.

Tip: Protect your skin from the sun rays by applying sunscreens because exposure to the UV rays can worsen the condition. The skin conditions usually disappear post delivery.

  1. Linea nigra: The dark line running from the center of belly to the pubic line starts to show. It is skin pigmentation near the abdomen where the muscles are stretched and usually wanes after the delivery.

[ Read: 4th Month of pregnancy diet ]

Sciatic nerve pain: The sporadic pain starts in the lower back and radiates to the legs through the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. The pain is generally centralized in one of the legs and is caused due to the pressure exerted on the nerve by the growing baby.

Tip: Sleeping sideways and keeping pillows between the knees and ankles will help relieve the discomfort to some extent. Swimming, yoga, mild exercises, and massage can help relieve the pain to some extent.

  1. Vaginal discharge: A milky or clear, odorless vaginal discharge, also referred to as leucorrhoea, is common at this point. This discharge helps prevent any infection-causing bacteria from passing through the vagina to the uterus.
  1. Frequent urination: The hormonal changes and the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the bladder can increase the urge to pee often.
  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: The syndrome is characterized by pain and numbness in the fingers, swelling, and inflammation. Studies have found that increased gestational weight and obesity contribute to this syndrome during pregnancy (5).
  1. Oral problems: The hormonal changes can affect the ligaments and the bones in the mouth. Pregnancy tumors — swelling between the teeth due to excess of plaque — are common during the second trimester. Tooth decay could be another problem arising due to the increase in mouth acids if morning sickness is persistent (6). Following proper dental care during pregnancy can help prevent the issues.
  1. Heartburn/ indigestion: Due to the release of the relaxin hormone, the muscles in the digestive tract relax, pushing the gastric acids up towards the esophagus, causing heartburn.  Also, the stomach, being pushed by the growing uterus, affects the bowel movements causing indigestion.
  1. Food cravings: Eight out of ten expectant women are said to experience cravings (7).
  1. Nasal congestion: Hormonal changes can soften and swell the nasal membranes, leading to a blocked nose. Try not to blow it hard as it can also cause nosebleeds.
  1. Headaches: They can be the result of stress, fatigue, nasal congestion, or allergies.
  1. Dizziness: This occurs due to hormonal changes and an alteration in the blood flow. With more blood flowing towards the fetus, there is a minor reduction in the blood flowing to your brain, which decreases the blood pressure and causes dizziness. A drop in the blood sugar level can also cause dizziness during pregnancy.
  1. Backaches: The growing belly puts pressure on the muscles of the lower back, causing back pain. In order to support the extra weight, the lower back curves more than usual, causing stiffness and soreness.
  1. Hot flashes: With more blood produced in the body to support the growing baby, you might have hot flashes as the body temperature rises by a few degrees.
  1. Varicose veins: The growing uterus puts pressure on the veins that carry blood from your legs to the heart and reduces the backflow of blood. This causes blood pooling in the nerves, leading to varicose veins.

[ Read: 19th Week Pregnancy ]

All the above-mentioned symptoms are a result of the changes happening in the hormones and the uterus. There are other changes happening as well.

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Things To Do This Week

Here are some important tips for a healthy 17th-week pregnancy:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself dehydrated.
  • Follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables like apples, avocado, seafood, mushrooms, leafy green vegetables, soybeans.
  • Avoid jerky and brisk movements.
  • Switch to flat shoes.
  • Have regular, small meals for better digestion.
  • Do not take any over-the-counter medicine without discussing with your doctor.
  • Take rest.
  • Engage in light workouts to keep yourself active and healthy.
  • Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes.
  • Avoid spicy and fatty food and caffeinated drinks.

Bodily Changes In The 17th Week

Physical changes

  • Your pregnancy belly is noticeable by now because the baby is growing in size.
  • The breast size increases with the areola getting darker. As there is more supply of blood to the breasts, the blue and green veins become prominent around the breast area.
  • As the skin stretches with the growing belly, you may feel a mild itching sensation on your belly, which is normal. But if the itching is severe and felt on the abdomen, palms, and in the soles of feet, then it could indicate obstetric cholestasis (OC), a liver condition occurring during pregnancy. Though there is no cure for this, it abates a few weeks after delivery (8).
  • Stretch marks begin to appear as your skin gets stretched with the growing belly.
  • Your hair volume might increase and look healthy due to the hormonal changes, especially the estrogens (9).
  • The nails might become brittle and soft, and grow quickly during the second trimester, again due to the hormonal changes.

Emotional changes:

  • You might start getting weird dreams, which could be a result of your anticipation and pregnancy fears.
  • The thought of coping with pregnancy health issues and responsibilities of parenthood can make you feel stressed out and anxious.

Not just anxiety, you are also filled with excitement in the 17th week, as you are going to hear your baby’s heartbeat through an ultrasound.

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[ Read: 5th Month Pregnancy Care ]

Tests Done At 17 Weeks Pregnancy

1. Ultrasound scan

In addition to hearing the heartbeat, you can also know the gender of the baby, its development, and the quantity of amniotic fluid, through an ultrasound scan.

In the case of twin pregnancy, an ultrasound scan can check for IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). It is necessary to check if any of the babies are lagging in growth.

A level 1 ultrasound scan is done to check for any birth defects. If there are any abnormal findings, the doctor might recommend a level 2 scan.

2. Physical examination

During your prenatal visit in the 17th week, the doctor will check your:

  • blood pressure and weight
  • measure the size of your uterus
  • check for any pregnancy discomforts

3. Blood tests

A blood test is suggested to determine birth defects such as Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, and spina bifida (a neural defect) in the baby. Also, the blood glucose level will be evaluated to check for gestational diabetes.

Three blood tests are usually done to screen genetic abnormalities (10). However, these tests should only be done on the recommendation of your healthcare provider.

i. The serum integrated screen is first done between 10 and 13 weeks and again between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. This helps in identifying the birth defects in the baby. In the case of twin pregnancy, the blood test does not detect Trisomy 18 but detects Down syndrome, neural tube defects, and abdominal wall defects.

ii. The sequential integrated screen is similar to serum integrated screening, wherein this blood test is analyzed along with the results of nuchal translucency (done between 11 and 14 weeks) to determine birth defects. In the case of twin pregnancy, this test can detect Down syndrome, neural tube defects, Trisomy 18, and abdominal wall defects.

iii. The quad marker screen or triple test is done if the pregnant woman has started her prenatal care after the 14th week and did not undergo the sequential or serum screening tests. The test is usually done between 15 and 20 weeks. In twin pregnancies, it helps detect Down syndrome, neural tube defects, and abdominal wall defects but not Trisomy 18.

iv. Amniocentesis is another test carried out between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy to detect certain genetic abnormalities. It is done by extracting a small sample of amniotic fluid and is an accurate way of diagnosing chromosomal abnormalities. It is done if (11):

  • the triple test shows an abnormal result.
  • you are above 35 years of age.

By the 17th week, your pregnancy condition stabilizes and you are likely to get relief from morning sickness and tiredness. In fact, the second trimester is the most relaxed period in your pregnancy. However, continue to be alert and keep your doctor’s contact number handy.

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[ Read: 13th Week Pregnancy Symptoms ]

When To Call The Doctor?

Call your doctor under the below circumstances:

  • If you notice spotting or vaginal bleeding along with back pain or abdominal cramping
  • Amniotic fluid leak, which is generally a pale yellow or clear discharge
  • If there is a change in the intensity of the vaginal discharge with a foul smell
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a day
  • Severe morning sickness
  • Unilateral swelling of leg or hand
  • Severe body itching without any rashes, which could be an indication of obstetric cholestasis
  • Extreme back pain
  • Symptoms of urinary tract infection
  • Having a persistent headache, dizziness, period-like contractions and heart palpitations
  • Vision changes, which could be due to diabetes or preeclampsia
  • Constipation with considerable abdominal pain

You need to call a doctor immediately if you suspect a miscarriage. But how do you know if you had one?

Signs And Symptoms Of Miscarriage At 17 Weeks

Here are some of the common signs to identify a miscarriage:

  • Intense pain and cramps in the abdomen along with bleeding. The intensity of bleeding may vary from one woman to other.
  • In some pregnancies, a miscarriage may take place without any significant signs. It is called a missed miscarriage and can be confirmed only during an ultrasound scan.

You do not have to be alarmed about the possibility of a miscarriage in the second trimester, but it is good to know why it happens.

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[ Read: 20th Week Pregnancy ]

What Are The Causes Of Miscarriage At 17 Weeks?

A miscarriage during the 17th week of pregnancy is usually rare. However, some factors could lead to a loss of pregnancy in the second trimester (12):

  • It has been found that 24% of pregnancy losses during the second trimester are due to chromosomal abnormalities such as monosomy X (Turner syndrome), trisomies 13, 18, and 21, and sex chromosome polysomies in the fetus.
  • Structural abnormalities are another factor for second-trimester pregnancy loss. They may result from neural tube defects, amniotic band syndrome, uncontrolled maternal diabetes at the time of conception, or due to maternal exposure to teratogens.
  • Infections such as bacterial vaginosis can also lead to a miscarriage.

Some other causes of miscarriage are:

  • Maternal hormonal abnormalities
  • Immunity issues
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Stress
  • Erratic lifestyle

While some reasons for a miscarriage are not in your hands, some causes are preventable.

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How To Prevent A Miscarriage At Week 17?

Preliminary pregnancy tests to detect any possible complications and necessary treatments can help reduce the chances of a miscarriage.

Also, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating right and being physically active.

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[ Read: 15th Week Pregnancy Tips ]

Nutrition In The 17th week

Here is the list for you:

NutrientGoodnessSources
CalciumSupports the development of bones in the babyLow-fat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, broccoli and almonds
Folic acid (folate)Prevents birth defects in the babySpinach, orange juice, collard greens, kale, asparagus, beans, fortified whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, whole-grain bread
IronPrevents anemia and maintains blood supplyLean beef, eggs, soy, fortified whole-grain cereals, nuts, leafy greens, oatmeal are a good source of iron
ProteinSupports fetal tissue growthChicken, pork, lean beef, beans, turkey, dairy, tofu
Vitamin AHelps in skin cell production and development of visionBroccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits, bell pepper, mango, unpeeled potatoes, and tomatoes.
Vitamin CEssential for the development of collagen in your baby’s bodyWinter squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, mangoes, dairy, eggs, lean meat, fortified whole-grain cereals
Vitamin B12Required for cell development and synthesis of DNA, RNA, and protein in the babyMilk, yogurt, and eggs
ZincSupports the baby’s cell development and DNANuts, lean beef, legumes, whole grains, seeds, peas, fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, spinach, and dairy

Along with a healthy diet, be physically active by doing some pregnancy exercises or yoga. But before you begin exercising, take your doctor’s opinion, and do it under the supervision of an expert.

Pregnancy is an equal responsibility for both the partners. Hence, men also have a role to play.

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Tips For Dad-To-Be

By this time, your partner might be going through various physical and mental changes. Here are some tips you can follow to support her:

  • Be with her for the prenatal visits.
  • Lend a helping hand in the daily household chores.
  • Accompany her during walks or light exercises.
  • Plan a day out and make her feel happy.
  • Start finding the names for your child.
  • Discuss your plans for your newborn.
  • Go shopping for maternity wears.

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[ Read: 12th Week Pregnancy ]

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to have sex during the 17th week of pregnancy?

Having sexual intercourse during the 17th week of pregnancy is safe in low-risk pregnancies and if you do it softly without harming the baby. However, pregnant women, who are at risk of preterm labor or antepartum hemorrhage because of placenta previa must avoid indulging in sex (13).

2. Should I be worried if the baby doesn’t show any movement during the 17th week?

If you are pregnant for the first time, you may not be able to recognize the baby movements. Moreover, if the placenta gets anteriorly attached to the uterus, then the placenta cushions your baby and makes it harder for you to identify the movements. However, the movements can be clearly felt by 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy is the road to motherhood and is filled with experiences. The pains you have gone through will wane as soon as you hold the little life in your hands. What remains is your lovely child and the memories associated with the little one. So, think positive and stay healthy.

How is your 17th week going? Let us know in the comment section below.

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