Your Pregnancy Week 17

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Learn about your symptoms and changes during the 17th week of pregnancy.

Your Baby

By 17 weeks pregnant your little bean may be up to 4.8 inches in length and may weigh more than 3.5 ounces! Most babies are the size of a large apple by now!

Changes in Your Growing Baby

Your baby concerns herself with swimming gleefully about her home. At this time most babies will start converting their cartilage skeleton into bone. This will require ample calcium consumption on mom's part so be sure to drink your milk! Your baby can start hearing now, so it is a good time to start reading to your baby or putting on nice, soothing music during the day.
Your baby will start putting on a little fat in the upcoming weeks, though your baby will do most of her bulking up during the last few weeks of pregnancy. This is a good time to connect with your bundle of joy. When you have time, consider rubbing your belly in long circular motions. Even at this early stage of pregnancy this can provide a calming and comforting sensation to your little one. It's also a great way for daddy's to connect to their unborn baby.

Your Body's Development

Your uterus continues to grow and expand, changing shape by now to resemble a large oval rather than a ball. Soon your uterus will completely inhabit your abdomen and pelvis. When this happens a woman's organs start getting pushed here and there, but not so severely as to cause you any distress.
Your uterus is probably about 2 inches below your navel, so you should have a little bit of a tummy to show off to friends and family.

Changes in Your Body

Most women start steadily gaining weight if they haven't already by now. You may welcome the first fluttering of your baby's kicks and consider that just compensation for the few pounds you will add in the upcoming weeks.
Some women start experiencing more vaginal discharge at 17 weeks pregnant. Provided vaginal discharge is odorless and clear or milky, you are probably perfect fine. Most women produce more vaginal fluid as a result of increasing estrogen production in the body accompanied with greater blood flow in the genital region.

During the last few weeks of pregnancy your discharge will increase even more. Some women have a hard time distinguishing normal vaginal fluids from amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is usually clear and much more abundant however than vaginal discharge. If for example you are soaking a pad or more in a few hours you may be leaking amniotic fluid and not having excessive vaginal discharge. This could be a sign that you are in pre-term labor, and you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

If you do have excessive vaginal discharge a simple panty liner should solve the problem. You should never wear tampons or douche during pregnancy as this could introduce bacteria or air into the vagina. If vaginal discharge comes with itching, burning or an unpleasant odor you might have an infection such as a yeast infection that you'll need to be treated for. Be sure you check in with your healthcare provider for recommendations on the best treatment choices. Most infections can be easily cleared in a week or so with proper treatments.

If up until this point of time you have experienced a stressful environment you should consider taking steps to reduce your level of stress and enjoy your pregnancy. Stress can have a negative impact on babies in utero and your pregnancy. Some studies suggest that too much stress can contribute to pre-term labor or higher levels of stress hormones in the body which can affect baby negatively. While you can't avoid all stressors, consider taking small steps to help you cope better, such as exercising when you can and getting enough sleep at night. Enlist your partner's help in reducing your stress level. Your body and your baby will thank you for your efforts!

Vivid Dreams

You may start to experience very vivid, strange dreams. Interestingly, in the second and last trimesters, pregnant women spend less time in REM sleep - the cycle of sleep in which dreams occur. So why all the crazy dreams?

It's believed that your REM sleep is interrupted by sleep problems (since you are constantly waking up to urinate, or perhaps you can't sleep due to restless leg syndrome, heartburn, backaches, and other second trimester discomforts). When REM sleep is interrupted, you tend to remember your dreams well. In addition, you have heightened emotions when pregnant, and this may contribute to your vivid dreams as well.
There are several common themes that occur when you're pregnant. One universal dream shared by many pregnant women is a cheating spouse. You may dream that your husband or partner goes back to his ex-girlfriend, or maybe he hooks up with an absolute stranger. Your partner may be completely devoted to you, but this doesn't change the fact that you may feel insecure (unconsciously, of course) about his feelings and love for you. Other dreams pregnant women have include a sexy encounter with an ex or an old flame, or you're carrying for cuddly animals.

Since you can't do anything about all these dreams that you're having, why not just enjoy them? Keep a dream diary to look back on after your baby is born.

Video: What to Expect from the 17th Week of Pregnancy



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