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Pregnancy health centre

17 weeks pregnant

What's happening in week 17

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks


Your baby at 17 weeks

The baby is about 14cm long from head to bottom (crown to rump) and has increased rapidly in weight. He or she has put on a third of its weight in just a week or so, now weighing about 150g. The body has just about caught up in size proportionally with the head. Your baby might be putting on weight but at the moment there won't be much fat. If you saw the baby at this stage, the skin would be wrinkled – your baby doesn't have enough fat to fill out the skin. However, your baby will now start to put on fat, which will help the baby to produce energy and keep warm after birth.

While the eyelids are still fused shut, your baby can move his or her eyes. Taste buds will continue forming in the baby's mouth. Although the skin is still rather thin and transparent, sweat glands may now be forming within the skin.

The umbilical cord has continued to grow, in length and thickness, and some babies may even grasp hold of it. However, they won't hold it for long enough to cut off its supply of oxygen and nutrients. Your baby may be swallowing as much as 1 litre of amniotic fluid a day, which amongst other things helps to develop the air sacs in your baby's lungs.

Soft cartilage is still transforming into bone, but the bone will remain flexible to assist the baby's exit through the birth canal. The baby will be constantly exercising – kicking, punching and turning around in the womb – encouraging the joints to be completely mobile.

You at 17 weeks pregnant

If you place two fingers together across your abdomen, about 2.5cm just below your belly button, you might be able to feel your womb, which will be roughly the size of a cantaloupe melon. With the increasing blood circulation to support both you and your baby, you may at times feel warmer and flushed.

Hormones circulating in your body can effect pigmentation. Especially in women with an olive or tan-like complexion, the colour of your skin may deepen. Freckles and moles may be more pronounced, and the nipples and areola (darker skin around your nipples) will darken and spread. These pigmentation changes are less likely to occur in women with fair complexions or red hair.

You may also notice a vertical line running up your tummy, from your pubic area to your belly button. It is known as the linea nigra and is caused by hormones making pigment changes where your muscles in the tummy area stretch to allow room for your developing baby. You may notice these skin changes in weeks 16 or 17 of pregnancy or a bit later, and they will get gradually darker as the pregnancy progresses. However, they should fade away after the baby is born.

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