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17 weeks into a pregnancy, your body is making adjustments and space for the growth spurt that is about to take place in the fetus.
Your child’s skeleton is growing stronger by the day, and they are starting to pick up on sounds and voices.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a series of articles on the different stages of pregnancy. It explains the symptoms of each stage, what to expect, and insights into the development of your child.
The other articles in this series can help you through each week of pregnancy.
First trimester: fertilization, implantation, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12.
Second trimester: week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16, week 18.
At week 17, you may be developing a dark streak down the middle of the stomach. This is a normal change in pigmentation as the abdomen expands to accommodate the growing fetus.
You will start to feel the fetus moving for the first time at around 17 weeks, and you may even start to see these movements. Your hair may start to become thicker as the rate of natural hair loss slows down.
Energy may be returning to your daily routine, and you may start feeling more confident as the bump becomes more visible.
Pain may also be occurring in the lower back and down the legs. The fetus can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which leads to pain, especially down the back of the thighs and buttocks.
At this stage, your nose may become blocked and stuffy as hormones change. This is known as rhinitis of pregnancy and should resolve after the birth of the infant.
Hormonal changes cause the airways to swell, and this can not only cause a blocked nose but also increase the likelihood that you will snore overnight.
Use a humidifier or wear nasal strips to reduce the impact of snoring and a stuffy nose. Natural treatment options include using a 100-percent-saline nasal spray or a neti pot to clear congestion. Some antihistamines and allergy medications are safe for both you and the infant, but be sure to consult your physician before taking these.
If these nasal symptoms are accompanied by other symptoms of infection, speak to a doctor.
Hormones may also be causing anxiety and depression at this stage of pregnancy, on top of the worries about changes to life in general that come with bringing a child into the world.
Talk to a physician if you are facing emotional difficulties as a result of pregnancy. Relaxation techniques can help, such as yoga, meditation, and long baths.
Your child is growing rapidly, and will now weigh around 5 oz. The fetus will be over 5 inches long, about the size of a nail buffer.
The umbilical cord is becoming thicker and stronger at week 17. This is to provide nutrition to the growing, delicate fetus.
The fetus is growing a layer of fat, known as the adipose layer. This is a crucial part of the metabolic system that helps the fetus gain weight and fills out its features.
The bones in the ears of the fetus will be changing and growing daily, and the fetus will hear and respond to conversation and music. The fetus is growing eyelashes and eyebrows, and its eyes can move even though they will remain shut.
The fingers have developed the lines that form your child’s fingerprint, and they will also be moving more.
Aerobics is a type of exercise that helps to strengthen the heart, lungs, and muscles.
Women who already took part in aerobics before being pregnant can continue to do so, and it can be a safe and effective form of exercise to start during pregnancy.
If you are starting aerobics during pregnancy, limit exertion to 15-minute sessions three times each week. Build this up gradually to four 30-minute sessions. While exercising, you should be able to breathe comfortably and talk without difficulty. Just listen to your body, as your energy levels and limitations will change over the pregnancy.
To help ease delivery and the return of normal bowel control and function afterward, it can help to carry out pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy.
You can find the pelvic floor muscles by stopping urine mid-flow. The muscles you use to stop the flow are the pelvic floor muscles.
To strengthen these muscles:
- Sit with your knees a short distance apart.
- Squeeze the back of the muscle, as if trying to stop flatulence, and then the front, as you were when trying to stop a stream of urine.
- Either stop immediately or hold for four seconds. This will depend on whether you are trying to carry out long or short squeezes.
- Break for a few seconds and repeat the motion.
As you build up strength, increase the length and amount of repetitions. Sit down to exercise in this way three times a day.
A person’s lifestyle will need to gradually change throughout pregnancy to adapt to the new arrival.
Many women feel concerned that they are not eating for two people during pregnancy. However, this is not necessary. At this stage, the fetus gains plenty of nourishment from the placenta and the body of the mother. Women who are pregnant need to consume about 300 to 400 extra calories per day in the second and third trimesters.
Make sure you are consuming enough vitamin D. Women who are pregnant should be taking a 400-800-International-Unit (IU) supplement of vitamin D every day to help strengthen the bones of the fetus.
Click here to purchase from a range of vitamin D supplements. Please note that opening this link will take you to an external page.
This nutrient may be included in your prenatal vitamins, so be sure and read the nutritional information on your supplement and review this with your doctor.
Symptoms of pregnancy complications can include:
- leaking vaginal fluid
- vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue
- faintness or dizziness
- low blood pressure
- rectal pressure
- shoulder pain
- severe pelvic pain or cramping
If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your physician immediately.