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17 Weeks Pregnant

Jan 25, 2022 | 4 minutes Read

At 17 weeks pregnant, your center of gravity is changing. Trying to maintain good posture will help you avoid backache and unnecessary muscular strain. If you must lift heavy objects, remember to bend at the knees and use those large, powerful quadriceps muscles in your thighs to help.

For some women, sciatic nerve pain is a problem. This nerve runs from your spine, down your buttocks, and the entire length of each leg. When the weight of the uterus and the baby are compressing this nerve, it can feel like pins and needles or a sharp pain in your buttocks or legs. Try to shift your weight if this is happening. While you sleep, try lying on your side with your upper leg bent at the knee and supported by a pillow to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve. 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 17 weeks pregnant, some women find they need to wear a pregnancy support garment to support the weight of their abdomen. Don’t laugh! There's a lot of comfort to be found in supportive undergarments.

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 cuddle. Take their stroller when you go out, use a shopping cart to contain them, or time your outings for when your partner is available. Pilates, yoga, water aerobics, and physical therapy 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 in your own body could be making you feel hot and flushed, even if it’s the middle of winter. Look at the palms of your hands and see how close to the surface of your skin your blood is.

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.

Your hair may become so luxuriant you 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.

Your nails may be looking a little strange at 17 weeks pregnant. Many women find their nails become brittle, weak, and flaky when they’re 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 transition occurs. You may still not look as if you’re pregnant, but your usual clothes are becoming too tight and you can’t just grab anything to wear out of your closet. 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 energizing 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 you or your partner are ready, reflect on your own upbringing and even wonder if you’re capable of raising a child. These completely normal doubts may flood your mind, probably in the wee hours of the morning when we’re not thinking entirely rationally. Discuss your thoughts with a trusted companion. Be patient with yourself and know these are the worries of many 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 for help in practical ways. This doesn’t mean you've become dependent or less capable. Remember that pregnancy in many ways is a shared experience between you and your partner.

Your baby's changes this week

Your baby is growing so quickly. Just in the last two weeks her weight has doubled, measures around 5 inches from head to bottom.

Your baby is still very slender, with skin stretched tightly over her little body. Blood vessels, which 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 her body. They are longer than her arms and are flexed at the knees and the ankles. Calcium has started depositing in baby’s little bones so keep up the dairy foods in your own diet.

Baby’s gender is obvious on ultrasound at this stage. If you have a girl, her ovaries will contain all the eggs she’ll have in her lifetime; around 3 million. 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 their gums and will play an important role in their oral development. Small amounts of fluoride in your drinking water will help form strong enamel on these and their permanent teeth.

Your baby can yawn, stretch, and make facial grimaces. Baby is still sleeping a lot, but will have periods where she 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 which 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’s 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 a check-up with your optometrist. You may find you need a new lens prescription. If you’re usually a contact lens wearer, you could even find they aren’t as comfortable as they usually are. These eye changes are common during pregnancy, though often resolve once the baby is born.

Watch your hygiene if you’re 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 absorbent and always preferable in helping the skin to breath.

Lie quietly at night and try to focus on what's going on in your tummy. You may be able to feel the first flutters 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.

Week 18 is next.

For more information see Pregnancy or Week by Week.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.