Pregnancy Week by Week

Pregnant Week 17

Your Baby

Your baby is still very small at approximately the size of a pear as opposed to the size of an avocado in week 16 and is growing at a steady pace. By the end of this week, your baby will weigh about 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 ounces. Did you know that your tiny little one is not just physically connected to you, but emotionally as well? Your baby shares your endorphins, which are chemicals produced in your brain that have an overall euphoric effect and give you a tremendous sense of well-being, as well as stress hormones including cortisol. These hormones cross the placenta to your baby.

Emotions, stress in particular, affect your baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. Since your baby shares your emotional sensations with you, it’s important to stay as stress-free as possible. You two have an amazing connection, even prior to birth!

Brown fat deposits are forming under your baby’s skin now, particularly in areas such as the neck and chest. This specialized fat is thermogenic tissue, which is produced to generate heat and maintain body temperature after your baby’s birth. After birth, your baby won’t have much white fat to retain his or her body heat. Brown fat will help keep your little one insulated. During the third trimester, your baby will continue forming more layers of brown fat. Premature babies have an insufficient supply of brown fat; making it more difficult for them to stay warm, because they’ve had less time in the womb to build up their brown fat stores.

It is believed that your little one is already capable of feeling thirsty! Your baby can swallow well now and is drinking large amounts of the clear-colored amniotic fluid that surrounds him or her; as much as a liter a day. Your baby’s tiny taste buds are mature and the sweet taste of the amniotic fluid encourages swallowing. After the amniotic fluid is swallowed, it passes through the kidneys and is excreted as urine. Then, your baby swallows once again; recycling the fluid completely every few hours. Besides urine, the amniotic fluid contains other substances such as shed skin cells.

Your baby is also able to breathe amniotic fluid into his or her lungs now (although he or she gets oxygen through the umbilical cord), which promotes maturation and development of the lungs and gastrointestinal system. It helps get his or her little lungs used to working and expanding, which prepares your baby for breathing after birth.

Your Body in Pregnancy

Your uterus can now be felt just below your belly button, approximately 1.5 – 2 inches. Others can notice your growing belly easily, especially if you’ve been pregnant previously and also if you’re wearing maternity clothing. You are really starting to expand, although you have some time before you’re big enough to feel uncomfortable. You may be just starting to really and truly feel pregnant!

You may have gained around 8-10 pounds or so by now, although weight gain varies widely from woman to woman. The appropriate total weight gain depends on your pre-pregnancy weight, your height and also your age. If you were “average” weight before you conceived, it’s generally recommended that you put on between 25-35 pounds. Of course if you’re expecting multiples, you’ll need to gain more, depending how many babies you’re carrying. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife what a healthy weight gain for you would be.

This week, you may start to feel your baby moving around and kicking in your womb for the very first time. What an exciting time! These first detectable movements are often called “quickening” and may feel like twitches, light flutters (like butterflies) or even bubbles. These delicate sensations will intensify as the weeks pass, until you begin to feel like a human punching bag! Don’t worry if you haven’t noticed anything quite yet, because the average time frame for a woman to notice quickening is between 16 and 24 weeks. Every mother is different, but once you start feeling these movements, you’ll likely feel your baby every day.

There are several factors that help determine when quickening will begin: if this is your first pregnancy, your body weight, the position of your baby and also the placenta. Second or third-time moms tend to feel their baby’s movements a bit earlier than first-time moms, because of more relaxed uterine muscles and also experience of what quickening feels like. Your body frame also has quite a bit to do with when you’ll experience your baby moving for the first time. Thinner women tend to notice movements earlier than women who are overweight. If you haven’t felt anything yet, you will soon, within the coming weeks. If you are concerned about lack of movement, don’t hesitate to call your doctor or midwife for reassurance.

It’s most likely become uncomfortable for you to continue sleeping on your stomach by now. The best position for sleep during pregnancy is on one side or the other. Hopefully you have already started getting into the habit of sleeping on your side. Lying on your growing belly may put too much pressure on your uterus and your baby (besides the fact that it’s far from comfortable at this point), while sleeping on your back isn’t a good idea either. Lying on your back can cause your enlarging uterus and the weight of your growing baby to rest against and compress major blood vessels, particularly the aorta and the inferior vena cava. This may decrease circulation to your baby. Your left side is the best, because your liver is on the right side, therefore lying on your left side keeps your uterus off of it.

To sleep more soundly as your pregnancy progresses, you may want to try using a special pregnancy body pillow for support. For the most comfort, try lying on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs (or part of the body pillow under your knee). You can place a pillow behind your back to prop you up and keep you from rolling during the night. During this time, you will probably get a better night’s sleep than when the third trimester rolls around.In week