17 Weeks Pregnant
Create a plan and conquer worry
17 weeks pregnant:
eyesEyesThe retinas of the eyes appear as dark spots, and the eyelid folds are beginning to form around them.
earsEarsAuditory ability has developed enough for the baby to react to sounds. Don't be surprised if you feel a flutter after a loud, sudden noise!
heartHeartThe heart has separated into chambers, and now it beats between 155 and 195 times a minute.
What's happening with you:
Your uterus is changing shape and position this week, growing more in length than width and shifting up into your abdomen (the top can be felt just below your belly button now). Since it's not anchored to one particular spot in your belly, you may be able to feel it better when you stand up, leading it to press against your abdominal wall. Remember that lying on your back is out of the question at this point, as that will cause your uterus to drift down onto your major arteries and reduce oxygen flow to your baby.
As your tummy continues to grow up and out, you may experience a startling pain around your abdomen. While pain in or around your uterus will naturally cause you some distress, rest assured that this tightness and pulling known as round ligament pain is very common at 17 weeks pregnant. Your growing uterus is stretching the ligaments that attach it to the pelvic wall, so your regular movements can trigger a sharp pain or dull ache on one or both sides of your lower abdomen. The best thing to do is put your feet up and rest while the pain passes, but if it becomes more severe you'll want to see your doctor to rule out other possible conditions.
What's happening with your baby:
At 5 inches (12 cm) long and 3 ½ ounces, your baby is about the size of a small sweet potato. This week marks another period of rapid growth: the eyes and ears enlarge, hair grows longer and the first layer of fat starts to form under baby's thin skin. His little heart is working at an incredible pace, pumping up to 24 quarts of blood each day, and his lungs expand and contract with every breath of amniotic fluid.
Week 17 also marks the arrival of baby's auditory ability -- he can now hear sounds inside and outside your body, which might make him jump (and your uterus flutter). Discernible movements are still few and far between for most women, but they should become fairly regular in the next few weeks. Also, if you have your second trimester ultrasound this week, you may be able to find out the sex of your baby!
Things to do this week:
If your growing body, the inability to lie on your back and nasal congestion is interfering with your sleep during pregnancy, invest in a few pregnancy sleep aids. A humidifier will help your breathe easier in the winter, a fan will keep you comfortable in the summer and some earplugs may be all you need to block out distracting sounds. In fact, pick up a pair for your partner as well -- even the quietest sleepers can turn into snoring machines when caught in the throes of middle pregnancy discomforts.
If you have the space for it, why not buy a hammock? It may seem more appropriate for a resort than a living room or yard, but consider the benefits: the loose fabric will conform to the shape of your body without putting too much pressure on any part, while the rocking motion is undeniably soothing for you (and it will be for your baby if you lay in the hammock while you nurse).
Between the decision to test for birth defects, your short fuse from sleepless nights and new discomforts like round ligament pain, you may find that you're worrying a lot these days. Relaxation in pregnancy is vital for a sound mind, and in many cases, it's the best way to get through bouts of discomfort. You can meditate, nap frequently and put aside your worries by writing them down before bed and revisiting them with some helpful information and a calm mind. It's natural to worry, especially if this is your first pregnancy, but you do have it in you to overcome your fears. If your worry turns to uncontrollable anxiety that begins to interfere with your daily life, it may be time to visit your healthcare provider.
In many cases, your doctor or midwife can help to calm your concerns. For instance, if you're afraid that something is wrong with your baby this week, your practitioner can call for a 17 week ultrasound or arrange prenatal screening tests. Verbal reassurance from a trusted figure is always helpful when you're dealing with anxiety during pregnancy, and often some honest and comforting words from your caregiver or someone who has gone through the same thing will help you keep things in perspective. Keep a big circle of support -- the more understanding professionals, experienced moms and caring friends you have to lean on, the better you can battle worry with optimism and good information.
Tips for your partner:
While mom-to-be struggles with her concerns about baby's health and her own judgment, you may worry about the financial pressure that lies ahead. Be sure to express your concerns, but don't get caught up in the anxiety of making ends meet -- many people have been in your situation, and they made it through unscathed. Instead of going it alone, your best plan of action will be to consult with a financial advisor who can help you work out a realistic plan and use the financial tools available to you.
Baby expenses can escalate quickly, but you'll be ready for them with a sound strategy. Now's the time to draft a five-year plan that will bring your expenses into perspective and help you figure out how much you need to save each month to reach your goals. Of course, if you've always been more of a spender than a saver, putting money into the bank instead of into your annual tropical getaway can feel like a harsh sacrifice. One way to lessen the blow is to use a budgeting program that divides your expenses into "wants" and "needs" instead of eliminating your personal indulgences altogether. Try a budgeting software that allows you to hook up your credit card, bank and investment information so you won't have to manually update and reorganize the money that comes in and the cash that goes out.
This week's FAQs:
Should I be worried that I haven't felt my baby move yet?
A 17 week old fetus will move regularly inside your uterus, but a number of factors can affect how you experience that movement, or if you feel it at all. If this is your first pregnancy, you probably won't notice anything this early in your second trimester unless you're very thin or incredibly attuned to your body; the small flutters of fetal movement can be easily mistaken for indigestion or gas if you haven't felt them before. Additionally, if your placenta is attached to the front of your uterus, it can cushion baby's movements and make the little kicks harder to detect. It may take up to week 22 to notice any fetal movement, so try to be patient.
If you're too worried to put it out of your mind, see your doctor for a prenatal check up. As long as your physician or midwife is able to pick up your baby's heartbeat easily, he's doing fine. Some fetuses are more active than others, so a strong heartbeat is a more reliable indicator of your baby's health than the movements you feel.
How can I afford the things I need for my pregnancy and the baby?
It's no secret that babies are expensive, and that's a big issue for most parents-to-be. From buying maternity wear to outfitting the nursery, you may be wondering if your bank account is up to the task. A little forethought and a touch of restraint will help you handle the costs without sacrificing comfort or safety.
The first rule of saving in pregnancy is to borrow what you need and accept what is offered. Friends and relatives will likely be more than happy to pass along clothing and gear for you and the baby, and you should happily take in everything that comes your way, since you really don't know what you may need down the road. And when you do hit the shops, control yourself: buy maternity clothes as you need them, a few items at a time, with an eye toward building a versatile wardrobe. As for baby gear, it's best to wait a while, since you'll likely receive baby shower gifts from friends and family, and you may end up with duplicates if you shop too soon.
What can I do to alleviate leg cramps?
There's nothing like waking from a deep sleep to an agonizing pain in your calf, is there? Leg cramps tend to pop up out of the blue and more frequently as the weeks roll by, making them one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of middle and late pregnancy. There's no consensus on what triggers a leg cramp, but some believe that a calcium or potassium deficiency is responsible while others blame poor circulation and a buildup of fluids. Prevention is the best medicine: if you can pin down the cause of your leg cramps, you'll be able to avoid them in the future.
Of course, preventative measures won't help you once a cramp hits, so keep in mind some helpful and easy remedies. Stretching is one of the most effective solutions, since a knotted, compressed muscle is far more prone to a cramp. With your legs out in front of you, gently pull your toes toward your body and push your heel outward for a good calf stretch. A warm heating pad on the site of the cramp can also help, as will walking around barefoot.
If you're aching to feel your baby kick, pay close attention in the evening. Your regular daily routine will probably rock your baby to sleep during the daylight hours, but once you sit and put your feet up at the end of a day you may discover a new little feeling in your abdomen. That first movement will be a very personal moment, as nobody else will be able to feel anything through your belly until around week 24.