17 Weeks Pregnant: Baby Update

The tiny creature in your belly is moving, sucking, swallowing, and gaining weight. She’s growing eyelashes, eyebrows, and thickening fur on her head. Inside her jaw, enamel is forming like pearly layers on her tiny tooth buds. Blood is coursing through her veins, and the umbilical cord—the ropy, bungy connection carrying fresh oxygen and food from the placenta to her body—is getting thicker and stronger, every day. Her sweat glands, which will help regulate her temperature after she’s born, are developing. And, if your baby is a boy, the little bud of a clitoris is starting to slowly grow into a penis.

Around this time, oil glands in the skin begin to release a rich, waxy oil called the vernix caseosa (Latin for cheesy varnish). The vernix will gradually become a thick, white slathering covering the entire body. This miracle substance protects the thin, delicate skin from the amniotic fluid. (Imagine what would your skin would be like if you sat in a full tub…for a few months!). Mother Nature is so smart!

The vernix is also a lubricant to help your baby slide down the birth canal, when the big day arrives. And, that’s not all. Scientists have shown that the vernix also helps discourage bacterial growth and acts as a protective layer on the skin for the first day of life. That’s why the World Health Organization suggests rubbing the vernix into the skin and delaying the first bath for 24 hours.

17 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months?

17 weeks pregnant is about 4 months along, almost halfway to the big day.

Baby’s Size at 17 Weeks

At 17 weeks, your little baby is about as big—and as thin—as your cell phone!

17 Weeks Pregnant: What to Expect

Feeling sort of…out of sorts? Pregnancy can affect your brain and body in some funny ways! The next few weeks you may feel a bit clumsy.

Not only has your center of gravity shifted, but you are also secreting a hormone called relaxin. This special protein is crucial for labor and birth because it makes your joints more flexible. That lets the stiff joint bridging your two pubic bones relax and spread a bit to help open the way for your baby to slide through your pelvis. But relaxin doesn’t discriminate, it affects all joints…your hips, knees and even your ankles.

Your balance center may be shifting, too. Feeling off-kilter and stumbling are incredibly common among pregnant moms. (If you do fall, be sure to call your doctor or midwife right away to get checked out.) Regular exercise, including yoga, can help a lot with balance issues. The more you move your morphing body, the easier it is to stay in tune with it!

Another dominant feeling right now is the urge to pee…all the time! Your growing baby and uterus put increasing weight on your bladder, as the months go by. Plus, hormonal changes cause your kidneys to process blood faster, making your bladder fill faster, too. All this makes it especially important to drink a ton of water to stay hydrated…though you can ease up a couple of hours before bedtime if that “gotta-go” feeling is keeping you up at night. (Having a salty snack may help delay your need-to-pee until the morning.)

That’s not all that’s happening below the belt. The weight of the baby pressing on your colon may push you towards constipation—and itchy hemorrhoids. Those are swollen veins bulging like thick, little worms around your rectum and anus and making it a bit harder to clean up after a poop. (We know, it’s all so elegant!) If you’re currently suffering from hemorrhoids, please know you’re not alone. More than half of all pregnant women get them.

Witch hazel wipes, wiping with wet toilet paper, and warm herbal sitz baths can help ease your symptoms a bit. The most important thing is to prevent your situation from getting worse. You’ll want to avoid straining on the toilet. Soften your bowel movements by drinking more water and adding fiber to your diet. (Many women find a daily glass of aloe vera juice can help.) Ask your care giver if s/he recommends you try a “Squatty Potty,” a little foot stool designed to align your pipes and make trips to the bathroom faster and easier.

17 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms

Common symptoms during your 17th week of pregnancy include:

  • Headaches
  • GI issues (heartburn, indigestion, nausea)
  • Itchy or sensitive skin that may include stretch marks
  • Backaches and leg cramps

17 Weeks Pregnant: To-Do List

Discuss baby shower plans: Sometimes a friend volunteers to host, but there’s no shame in asking a family member to throw a baby shower if you want one. Start planning early so you have time to send out invites and allow for RSVPs!

Make a dermatologist appointment: Moles can grow or change during pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to schedule a complete, full-body skin check. You don’t want to dismiss melanoma as just another weird pregnancy side effect.

Set up a college fund: 529 plans are similar to 401(k)s, allowing you to set money aside for your child’s education, tax-free. Funds in these accounts can be used for undergraduate or graduate programs. You may consider maxing out your IRA as another way to save; IRA funds can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for education expenses. A financial advisor can help guide your choices.

Myth or Fact?

Music makes your baby smarter.

Could the secret to cultivating the next Einstein be as simple as cueing up some classical tunes? Not so fast. The so-called Mozart Effect—playing classical music into your navel—won’t boost your baby’s IQ. Babies definitely hear and respond to music in the womb, however, so pick the best music for your baby, stick with whatever music makes you feel happiest.

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.