Mother and Baby

17 weeks pregnant: advice, symptoms and what to expect

Section: Week by Week
17 weeks pregnant

At seventeen weeks pregnant, you start to see some more big changes. Your baby starts storing body fat and working on her swallowing and sucking skills. Here’s everything you need to know about any symptoms or what your baby and your body are doing at 17 weeks pregnant.

How big is my baby at 17 weeks pregnant?

Your little one is now around five inches long, which means she could still fit in the palm of your hand. She should also weigh about five ounces now, which is just a little bit heavier than a £2 coin!

What’s my baby doing at 17 weeks pregnant?

At 17 weeks, your baby’s body is coated with hair called lanugo, which helps to keep her warm until she has enough body fat. She’ll also be covered in vernix – a waxy substance that protects her skin from the amniotic fluid that she’s floating in at the moment. When she’s born, you’ll see some of the vernix still on her skin, but your midwife will usually rub most of it off with a towel.

Her heart is now regulated by the brain, which means it’s not beating so randomly any more, but will still be beating about twice as fast as yours. As we mentioned last week, a lot of her time spent in the womb is practising the skills she’ll need on the outside, this week, she’ll be honing her sucking and swallowing skills in preparation of her first feed.

Another cute addition this week? She’ll get her fingerprints!

10 common symptoms to look out for at 17 weeks pregnant:

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1) Heartburn or indigestion

You might have shaken off the morning sickness and extreme tiredness, but unfortunately this side effect isn’t going anywhere. If you’re suffering with heartburn, eat little and often and avoid lying down after a big meal.
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2) Increased appetite

Some women find at this stage their appetite goes into overdrive! Don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly feeling hungrier than ever before, it’s a sign your baby is getting bigger and hungrier too! That said, remember eating for two isn’t to be taken literally and that you should only be gaining around four pounds a month during pregnancy.
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3) Loose teeth

Did you know hormones can affect the ligaments and bones in your mouth, which can make your teeth feel wobbly or even fall out. If you do lose teeth, contact your dentist straight away (before the tooth fairy!).
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4) Itchy breasts or stomach

As your baby groes, your skin stretches thinner to compensate. This can make your skin feel sensitive and irritated. Avoid scratching and use a good moisturiser or a stretch mark cream (like Bio-oil).
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5) Backache

Pregnancy backaches can be a painful side effect of pregnancy. Ease this common symptom by making sure you have a firm mattress and placing a cushion behind your back when sitting down.
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6) Breast growth

They aren't stopping any time soon! All of the activity going on in your body, paired with an increase of blood flow can mean you grow up to three cup sizes during pregnancy!
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7) Rapid weight gain

You are likely to have gained between 5 and 10 pounds already. During the second trimester, gaining about a pound or two a week is normal. However, if you're giving into those pregnancy cravings and increased appetite or you are rapidly gaining weight for no reason, consult your GP.
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8) Stretch marks

Now your body begins to grow, stretch marks can be common. This one is hereditary, so ask your mum how pregnancy affected her body! If you are suffering with stretch marks already, take a look at these creams to help prevent any more from appearing. 
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9) Strange dreams

Strange dreams are a common side effect of pregnancy. It can be down to the hormonal changes in your body or the general anticipation and nerves. With this in mind, check out the 5 most common pregnancy dreams and what they mean.
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10) Headaches

These have appeared on the common symptoms list for the past few weeks, and are a common culprit to look out for. They occur because of the surge of hormones and the increase in blood volume. Stress and poor posture can make headaches worse, so try and relax as much as possible.

What is my body doing at 17 weeks pregnant?

By week 17, your body is showing signs of being pregnant. You’ll probably notice it’s not only your belly getting bigger, but your hormones and milk-producing glands are also developing to get your body ready to feed your baby. 

Right now your ovaries are also releasing a hormone called relaxin. As the name suggests, it relaxes ligaments and joints in your body in preparation for birth when you need the muscles and joints in your pelvis to be flexible to allow your baby out. This loosening of the joints can also increase the risk of you getting backache, and you need to be careful when you exercise as you could strain muscles more easily.

Take a look at our pregnant girls guide to the gym and helpful guide to beating back pain.

Take me back to week 16

Take me to week 18

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