Pregnancy Tracker: Week 17

Pregnancy Tracker: Week 17




Baby’s development at 17 weeks pregnant

At 17 weeks pregnant, your baby continues to grow and in fact has increased quite dramatically in size. Baby is about as big as a pear, weighing roughly 150g and measuring about 13cm long.

By now all the vital organs are fully formed and working, although further development will still take place over the next few months.

The largest organ of all is the skin, and your baby’s smooth, translucent skin continues to develop even while baby is in the uterus. By week 17, the skin is getting thicker and soon the different layers will have finished forming. Sweat glands are also beginning to develop now.

Your little chap’s head is still on the large size, but the body and limbs are growing steadily, and baby looks more in proportion every week. The soft cartilage is developing into bone and becoming harder and denser. Calcium intake is especially important at this stage, for both you and your baby.

The little eyes can move about behind their fused lids and can sense light. Eyelashes and eyebrows are growing, and fingerprints are also starting to form on the fingers.

At around this stage of development the structures inside baby’s ears are well developed enough to enable him to hear certain noises and sounds, especially those of your heartbeat, your breath going in and out of your lungs, and the gurgling sounds of your digestive juices.

Your placenta, which supplies your growing baby with nourishment and oxygen and removes waste produces, also continues to grow at a suitable pace to sustain baby. The umbilical cord is your baby’s lifeline and is getting thicker and stronger by the week.

Symptoms noticed in week 17 of pregnancy

Itchy skin

Itching during the second and third trimester of pregnancy can be a troublesome symptom and is often not taken seriously by friends and family. Severe itching can lead to disturbed sleep, resulting in exhaustion.

Mostly, itching during pregnancy is normal and caused by increased blood supply to the skin, as well as the stretching of the skin over the extended abdomen. It is also thought that raised levels of certain hormones can result in itching. The oil glands battle to cope, so massaging un-perfumed lotions and creams into the dry areas is advised. Avoid wearing synthetic clothing, and choose loose, cotton garments instead. Taking a cool bath or shower before bed may also be beneficial.

Severe itching can be a more serious symptom of ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy), also known as obstetric cholestasis. These are long and difficult names, but all you need to know is that it could indicate a serious liver disorder, so be on the lookout for symptoms that include:

  • Itchy hands and feet
  • Itching getting worse at night
  • Dark urine

If you notice any of these symptoms, let your healthcare provider know so that he can decide if further investigation is necessary.


If you feel that the world is spinning around you, take comfort in knowing that this is a common symptom during the second trimester and is due to cardiovascular changes, in particular an increase in blood volume.


Vision changes can also affect a mum-to-be at this stage of pregnancy, and can be attributed to hormones, fluid retention, blood circulation and even metabolism. You may feel that your eyes are very dry or your vision a bit blurred. Mostly this is normal and should go away after birth but do mention it to your doctor if double vision, loss of vision or anything extreme is noticed.

Strange dreams

You can pin this one on hormones as well! Vivid, bizarre dreams, either terrifying or terrific, occur during pregnancy, and are all normal. Considering your highly emotional state, it is not surprising that your mind is working overtime, especially when you relax and sleep. It has been reported that dreams often echo your feelings of anxiety, excitement or fear over becoming a parent.


Constipation can be an irritating and uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy and seems to be rather common as research shows that at least half of all pregnant mums-to-be suffer from it. The hormone progesterone relaxes muscles in the body, including the digestive tract, which means that food moves through the intestines sluggishly, causing constipation. In addition, your body retains more fluid during pregnancy, which also contributes to constipation. Iron supplements are also well known for causing constipation. Eating high fibre foods and ensuring you drink plenty of water during the day should aid in alleviating this condition and help prevent uncomfortable haemorrhoids from developing.

Tips for week 17 of pregnancy

As you approach the middle of your second trimester and you start to feel and look bigger, you may welcome advice on how to make your life a bit more comfortable.

  • Relaxation is important, and techniques learnt now will stand you in good stead for later in pregnancy. There are many forms you can practice, like yoga, gentle swimming, massage, deep breathing. Find out what works for you and ensure that any exercise instructor is qualified and experienced in antenatal care.
  • Avoid the sun as far as possible to limit changes in skin pigmentation. Wear a good sunscreen with minimum SPF 30 but check that it is pregnancy safe. Wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat and staying indoors when the sun is at its hottest is advised.
  • Sciatica is usually felt as sharp, shooting pains, tingling or numbness starting in the lower back and running down the buttocks and legs. To relieve the sciatic nerve, do some gentle stretches or place a hot water bottle in the lower back area.
  • Now may be the time that you start to feel uncomfortable sleeping on your tummy. In addition, lying on your bump could restrict blood flow to the baby, so find a comfortable spot on your side, place a pillow between your knees, and sweet dreams!
  • As hormones prepare your breasts for milk production, you will find that your breasts grow in size, for some people an increase in a whole cup size or two. A good tip is to buy different size supportive bras so that you will always be comfortable.

Is your baby bump finally noticeable? If this is the case, make sure you're taking lots of photos – you will enjoy looking back at them and comparing them in subsequent months.

Have you announced your pregnancy? Some people won’t mind finding out through social media or word of mouth, but your long-distance good friends and relatives may prefer to hear from you directly. You wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!

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