Welcome to week 17 pregnancy! You may be noticing your little bump getting bigger all the time, and believe me, that little one is growing in leaps and bounds! Let’s take a look at what’s going on with your body and your baby this week.
Week 17 Pregnancy: How Big is Baby?
This week, your baby is about the size of a pomegranate. He or she is approaching five inches long in a crown-to-rump measurement (1). Baby starts all curled up, so we measure from the top of the head to the bottom of the rump early in the pregnancy.
You may see some books and websites start to give total length instead, which is a measurement from the top of baby’s head to bottom of his feet. That’s why you might notice a wide discrepancy between different sources. If you look at total length, baby is actually around nine inches long! Can you believe your tiny one has grown so much in just 15 weeks since conception?
Week 17 Baby’s Development
In other news:
- Baby’s skin begins to produce vernix, a greasy material that protects baby’s skin by acting as a waterproof barrier. When baby is born, her skin will be completely covered with vernix. (2)
- Fat, which is also called adipose tissue, has begun to form. Fat is an important component of baby’s heat production and metabolism. By the time your little one is born, fat will make up about 5 1/4 pounds of the average birth weight of 7 3/4 pounds.
- Baby continues to be active. If you haven’t felt movement yet, you likely soon will.
Week 17 Pregnancy: Pregnant Belly
Bump on Display
There’s a pretty good chance that those around you can see your cute little bump. You may notice extra smiles from strangers, or that you’re treated a little more delicately or special. It is normal and okay to enjoy the extra attention. In contrast, it’s just as normal and okay to feel like you’d rather NOT receive extra attention. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to have added fuss due to your pregnancy, communicate this to your friends and family. Otherwise, enjoy these few months of people holding doors and carrying heavy bags for you!
Look But Don’t Touch
Speaking of extra attention and personal preference, you may begin to experience the weird pregnancy phenomenon of people touching your belly. It’s not something that happens to everyone, and it’s not something that bothers everyone if it does. But be prepared that people who would never touch your belly in your regular life may put a hand on it when there’s a little one growing inside. Remember that it is still 100% your body, not community property, and that it’s okay to tell people not to touch you if that’s your preference.
Week 17 Pregnancy: What to Expect
If you’re healthy and your pregnancy is progressing normally, you should expect to continue to see your healthcare provider every four to six weeks through your second trimester. Your provider will likely do the following at each appointment:
- Check your weight
- Check your blood pressure
- Measure the fundal height, which is the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (this helps track baby’s growth)
- Test your urine to detect bacteria, protein, and sugar
- Listen to your baby’s heart beat
If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to read our week 16 blog post, with information about ultrasounds, genetic screening, and other tests that may be offered around this time in your pregnancy.
Week 17 Pregnancy: Symptoms
Let’s Talk About Sleep
You may find it difficult, now or later in pregnancy, to sleep soundly through the night. Between 65% and 95% of pregnant women report some sleep changes (1). Why does this happen? Your body may be uncomfortable, your mind may be full of thoughts or even concerns about coming life changes, and your growing baby may cause your bladder to wake you more frequently. You may also find that you are no longer comfortable sleeping in whatever position is most natural for you, such as on your stomach or back.
Avoid Stomach and Back
As your belly grows, sleeping on your stomach becomes impossible. Sleeping on your back is also not recommended, because when you lie on your back, your uterus puts pressure on blood vessels that run down the back of your abdomen (2). This pressure decreases blood circulation to baby and other parts of your body and can make you feel dizzy. (Note! Don’t worry if you wake up on your back; it’s not a dire situation. It’s just not recommended for you to sleep regularly in this position.)
Sleep on Your Side
The best position for sleep during pregnancy is on your side. Many women find that the most comfortable arrangement is to sleep with a pillow between their knees and one tucked under their belly to support the weight of the baby. Some women like to add one behind the back as well, to help stay cradled and supported from all sides. If you’re overwhelmed with pillows and losing your partner in the bed, you may consider an all-in-one pregnancy pillow. It may take some time to figure out what works for you, and it will be comical to see the lengths it takes to construct your comfy little nest. But don’t worry, but you’ll get there.
Try these tips to get a restful night’s sleep:
- Keep a steady routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
- Don’t use electronic devices like your phone or tv for at least an hour before bed.
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
- Scents like lavender and jasmine may help you fall asleep faster.
If you just can’t get comfortable in bed, you may find that it’s easier to sleep partially upright in a recliner. This can be especially helpful if you’re experiencing heartburn, or if your growing tummy is causing shortness of breath.
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(1) Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press
(2) The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition
(3) Simkin, P. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition. Meadowbrook Press