Understanding your pregnancy: Week 17

Understanding your pregnancy: Week 17

A quick snapshot

At 17 weeks pregnant your centre of gravity is changing. Trying to maintain a good posture will help you avoid backache and unnecessary muscular strain. If you have to lift heavy objects, remember to bend at the knees and use your thighs to help.

Some women find they need to wear a pregnancy girdle to support the weight of their abdomen. Don't laugh! There's a lot of comfort to be found in supportive undergarments. No one but you, and perhaps your partner, needs to know.

Sciatic nerve pain might trouble you. 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 presses on this nerve, it can feel like pins and needles or a sharp pain down in your bottom or legs. Try to shift your weight and sleep with as many pillows as you find comfortable. Lie on your side, with your upper leg bent at the knee and supported by a pillow to relieve the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

What’s changing in your body

  • Lots of extra blood supply to your own body could be making you feel hot and flushed.
  • The veins in your legs are more visible and your will ache 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 whenever you can.
  • Usually hair goes through growing and shedding phases but during pregnancy not much shedding occurs, so your locks might be particularly lustrous.
  • Many women find their nails become brittle, weak and flaky when they are pregnant. Painting 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.

How your emotions are affected

  • You may still not look pregnant but your usual clothes are becoming too tight and you can't just grab anything to wear out of your wardrobe. If something fits your tummy, it may not fit across your breasts, so dressing becomes 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 remedial 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 your partner is the "right one" to be your baby's father, reflect on your own upbringing and even wonder if you are capable of raising a child. These are completely normal doubts may flood your mind. Speak with your partner and sit tight, these are the worries of almost every 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 your partner for help in practical ways. This doesn't mean you've become dependent or less capable, pregnancy in many ways is a shared condition and he'll probably relish the opportunity of feeling he's contributing in some way.

How your baby is growing

Second Trimester: Week 1722

  • Your baby is growing so quickly. Just in the last 2 weeks their weight has doubled and they measure around 13 centimetres.
  • Your baby is still skinny, with skin stretched tautly over their little body. Blood vessels which are supplying your baby with oxygenated blood, are visible through their translucent skin.
  • Your baby has legs that seem almost disproportionate to the rest of their body. They are longer than the arms and are flexed at the knees and the ankles. Calcium has started depositing in their little bones so keep up the dairy foods in your own diet.
  • It is obvious on ultrasound what sex your baby is. If it is a girl, her ovaries will contain all of the eggs she will have in her lifetime; around 3 million of them. 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, which you are having in your drinking water, will help form strong enamel on these and their permanent teeth.
  • Your baby can yawn, stretch and make facial grimaces. They are still sleeping a lot but will have periods where they just want 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.

Tips for the week

  • Try not to stand up too quickly if you've been sitting down for a while. There is 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 an eye check-up with your optometrist. You may find you need a new lens prescription. If you are usually a contact lens wearer, you could even find they aren't as comfortable as they usually are. These changes to the eye are common during pregnancy, though often resolve when the baby is born.
  • Watch your hygiene if you are 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 always preferable in helping the skin to breath and is more absorbent.
  • Lie quietly at night and try to focus on what's going on in your tummy. You may be able to feel the first flutterings 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.