Week 17 of Your Pregnancy
The heart sounds can be heard, the first fat pads can be seen – This week, a special experience awaits you: You can hear your child’s heart sounds with the stethoscope for the first time. You can already start with light pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your muscles.
In the 17th week of pregnancy, the relaxed phase of pregnancy continues, isn’t it great? It marks the beginning of your 5th month of pregnancy.
We have compiled for you which developments your body and your baby go through in the 17th week of pregnancy.
Table of content
- The mother – baby’s growth makes itself felt physically
- Vein care becomes important from now on
- The baby in the 17th week
- Pregnancy symptoms in the 17th week
- How to support your body during the 17th week of pregnancy
- FAQ – Fourteenth week of Pregnancy
- 17 Weeks Pregnant: Watch Your Baby’s Development – Video
Here you can find all of our 2nd trimester articles:
The mother - baby's growth makes itself felt physically
Most pregnant women are doing well this week.
The belly and breasts require special care due to their growth. Rich bath lotions and plucking massages with mild vegetable massage oils ensure elastic, healthy skin and prevent stretch marks. For many women, pregnancy-related pigment changes have now become more apparent.
Nipples and areolas take on a brown color, and in the middle of the abdomen the linea negra – a dark vertical line extending from the navel to the pubic bone – becomes more visible. Pigmentation can also develop on other parts of the body, but like the linea negra, it becomes much lighter again after birth, making it barely visible.
The uterus continues to increase in size, which also increases the strain on the maternal ligaments. Slight pulling pain in the groin area will accompany many women from now until birth.
Since the sciatic nerve runs directly under the uterus, one-sided strain can sometimes cause severe pain attacks. Long periods of standing in one place should therefore be avoided. At night, body pillows or nursing pillows can provide additional relief.
Many women start to sweat easily now – the increased blood volume raises the body temperature. A healthy whole food diet is a must throughout pregnancy. In addition to an adequate supply of iodine and calcium, a good supply of iron is particularly important from the 17th week of pregnancy. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables have high iron content, as do meat, cereal products, and legumes.
Whether the additional intake of iron supplements is necessary can be determined by the doctor by means of a blood count. The prescription of iron as a dietary supplement always belongs in the hands of the doctor. Excess iron is deposited in the internal organs and can even interfere with the healthy development of the baby.
Tip: A breastfeeding pillow already does a good job during pregnancy: If, as an expectant mother, you find it increasingly difficult to find a comfortable lying position, it supports your stomach and back, allowing you to sleep in a relaxed position.
Due to the increased blood volume and the growth of the uterus and baby, the circulatory system of pregnant women has to perform at its best in the coming weeks and months.
The pressure on the veins naturally increases. In addition, certain hormones loosen the walls of the veins. The heart and blood vessels, therefore, have a much harder time returning the blood from the lower regions of the body. The uterus and pregnancy-related blockages also put pressure on the veins in the abdomen.
As a result, more than half of all pregnant women suffer from vein dilatation (varicose veins), which manifest as varicose veins or hemorrhoids. Women expecting twins or who have to stand for long periods are, particularly, at risk. Hemorrhoids, as well as varicose veins in the pubic area, usually disappear on their own after childbirth, varicose veins in the legs often remain permanently.
These vein dilations can be very uncomfortable and painful. Therefore, good vein care becomes important from the 17th week at the latest.
The basis for this is gentle exercise as well as a healthy diet with lots of fiber. Vitamin C and E also have a reputation for effectively preventing varicose veins. Vitamin C is often found in high concentrations in vegetables, fruits, and juices, while vitamin E is found primarily in vegetable oils such as sunflower, wheat germ, or olive oil.
Regular pelvic floor exercises also have a vein-strengthening effect, while at the same time preparing the body for the stresses and strains of the coming months and the birth in the best possible way.
Standing for too long or sitting with legs crossed puts a lot of strain on the veins of the lower extremities and should be avoided for the rest of the pregnancy. Sleeping with the legs in a slightly elevated position is effective in providing lasting relief to the veins. Elevating the feet more often during the day is also recommended.
In the case of already existing varicose veins or hemorrhoids, medicinal herbal ointments effectively relieve the discomfort and can even bring bleeding varicose veins to heal. Acupuncture treatment or shiatsu also often brings relief.
However, the use of ointments, vitamin preparations, and all other treatments to strengthen the veins should always be discussed in advance with a doctor and midwife. In the case of pronounced venous weakness, support stockings often do a good job against leg varicose veins during pregnancy.
The baby in the 17th week
In the 17th week of pregnancy, the baby is between 4.3 and 5.1 inches long at crown-rump height and about the size of a pear. However, the crown-rump height has not been the most important criterion for the doctor to measure the developmental stage of the fetus for several weeks now. During examinations, head and chest circumference and the length of the femur, among other things, provide information about the state of pregnancy.
If necessary, the predicted date of birth is also adjusted again on the basis of these values.
From the 17th week of pregnancy, a very special experience awaits the parents-to-be during a visit to the doctor or midwife – the baby’s heartbeat can now be heard for the first time with a stethoscope.
During this week, the baby gradually builds up a layer of fat, which will also help its body to regulate its heat balance in the future. The pads of the fingers and toes are now becoming more pronounced. The bone formation also progresses in parallel with length growth. Some bones still consist of an elastic, cartilaginous substance. In the coming weeks and months, they will continue to harden but will remain soft and flexible until the due date.
From the 17th week of pregnancy, a protective substance develops around the spinal cord and nerve cells. Myelin will also play an important role in the conduction of impulses through the nerve pathways in the future, and its development continues throughout the first year of life. At 17th week, the baby’s facial shape continues to develop. The eyes are no longer at the side, but in front. The ears are also almost in their final position. The baby enjoys its mobility and is also very active during this week, training muscles and reflexes.
The ever-improving coordination of movement indicates that the brain and neural pathways are continuously maturing.
The child’s hearing also continues to differentiate during the 17th week of pregnancy. It may even flinch at sudden loud noises. The baby is also already aware of touch stimuli.
By gently stroking her belly, the mother can provide a cuddle. The baby also perceives her everyday movements. They have a calming effect but also train the child’s sense of balance.
Basically, in the 17th week of pregnancy, you are in the relaxed stage of pregnancy, in which most pregnancy complaints have subsided.
However, due to the continued growth of the uterus, you may still experience abdominal pain during the 17th week of pregnancy. In some women, the sciatic nerve is also under a lot of strain.
This is because the pregnancy-related weight gain shifts the body’s center of gravity forward, putting more strain on the lower spine. The larger the fetus becomes, the more the uterus presses on the tissues above the sciatic nerve or triggers blood to back up from the veins, which then press on the nerve. You can relieve the discomfort with a massage or the application of heat because both have a relaxing effect on the muscles. A physiotherapist can also help you to train back-friendly behavior for everyday life. Sometimes alternative methods such as acupuncture are used. This should definitely be discussed with an experienced doctor beforehand.
How to support your body during the 17th week of pregnancy
Cover iron requirements
The high blood volume also increases the iron requirements of expectant mothers. Overall, the blood volume increases by about 50%. Iron is used to transport oxygen from the red blood cells and helps strengthen the immune system. Due to the high demand for iron, iron deficiency can occur relatively quickly during pregnancy.
But do not worry. You can get the 30 mg a day you need from foods such as meat, poultry, and fish. Fruits and vegetables also contain iron, but not enough to cover the daily requirement. In this case, supplements can be taken to prevent iron deficiency. The best thing to do is to have your gynecologist check your iron levels. He can prescribe the appropriate preparations and advise you on your diet.
FAQ - Seventeenth week of Pregnancy
The risk of miscarriage in the 17th week of gestation is very low (0.5%). However, the most common signs of a miscarriage are bleeding, severe cramping pain and pulling in the lower abdomen and lower back, as well as fever and purulent discharge.
Many moms-to-be describe that the early movements of the baby feel like a gentle tickling or fluttering in the belly as if there were butterflies inside.
In the 17th week of pregnancy, you are in the 5th month of pregnancy.