YOUR PREGNANCY WEEK BY WEEK: WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WEEK 17Your baby weighs in this week at about 5 ounces and she’s approximately 5 inches in height from crown to rump, the size of a large orange. Every day she’s putting more meat on her bones and baby fat, too. Her little lungs are getting ready to breathe and this week you may be able to hear the sweet sound of her heartbeat. You’re nearing the halfway point in your pregnancy, a time when you’re happy to have your appetite back! But, be careful about excessive weight gain and be sure you’ve got plenty of comfy maternity clothes that fit your growing baby bump.Your BodyAt 17 weeks pregnant, your body is getting bigger, so you may now be seeing stretch marks, along with another unexpected pregnancy symptom:Rapid Weight GainFor a lot of pregnant women, the second trimester is a time when their appetites become ravenous and seemingly insatiable. After all, morning sickness is gone and your favorite foods look oh-so-good again. So, don’t be surprised if your growing appetite is also making the numbers on your scale grow, too.As you might imagine, you’re feeling hungrier because your baby is getting bigger and hungrier, too. If you haven’t been gaining enough weight, now is a good time to put on a few more pounds.But, if your weight gain has been more than normal, become more diligent about keeping on track. In general, make healthy foods the mainstay of your diet with lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grain breads/cereals. Avoid sweets and fatty foods that aren’t good for you and can be the culprit of excessive weight gain.Remember, although you’re eating for two, you’re only aiming for an additional 300-350 calories per day to help keep you and your baby healthy. Now throughout the rest of your pregnancy, a weight gain of 1-2 pounds each week is optimal.If you notice you’ve gained weight suddenly or excessively, it could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious, life-threatening condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in her urine. Monitor your weight closely and contact your doctor right away if you notice a sudden weight gain.Skin TagsWhile many pregnant women anticipate stretch marks and varicose veins as skin changes that come with pregnancy, skin tags can come as a surprise. If you now have skin tags—small, flesh-colored, harmless, hanging growths on your skin—take heart knowing that developing skin tags is normal and they’re completely benign.Skin tags tend to show up on skin surfaces that are hot, moist or rubbed a lot. So, you’re likely to see them on your armpits, under your breasts or in your genital area.While they are sometimes unsightly and uncomfortable, hormonal changes cause skin tags and there’s really nothing you can do to prevent them. But, they’re temporary. After you deliver, your dermatologist can safely remove your skin tags or you can opt for an over-the-counter topical cream.Your BabyIn the 17th week of pregnancy, the sweet little resident in your belly is busy developing her organs and she’s putting on some fat for warmth.Your baby’s heartbeat can be heard. Your baby’s heart has been beating since around week 6 of your pregnancy and now you may be able to hear it. Using a Doppler—a special ultrasound device—during one of your regular prenatal care visits, your doctor may be able to detect the sure-to-get-you-smiling sound of your baby’s heartbeat. How early it can be heard depends on many factors including your weight, how the baby is positioned in your uterus and how accurate your due date is.Your baby’s body fat is beginning to form. Under your baby’s skin, a type of fat called “brown fat” is developing. This fat layer helps generate heat to keep your baby warm and regulate her body temperature. Also referred to as brown adipose tissue, brown fat is particularly important during your baby’s first year of life. Further along in your pregnancy, more layers of baby fat will develop, making her cute little cheeks irresistibly squeezable!Your baby’s lungs are developing. Although your little one’s lungs aren’t necessary for breathing in your womb, they’re getting ready to immediately function after birth. Air passages are branching right now and, over the next few months, they’ll become fully developed—and ready to let out that big first baby cry and breathe in oxygen when you bring her into the world.Diet and Exercise Tips You Should FollowTo keep you and your baby healthy, follow these tips in week 17:Eat nuts as a healthy snack. Getting all of your nutritional requirements can certainly be challenging. One way to help is to make sure you choose healthy snacks like nuts to get more of the important nutrients and heart-healthy fats you need in your diet. Almonds, pecans, peanuts and pistachios make great choices since they’re packed with protein, magnesium, vitamin E and B vitamins.Do yoga to help manage stress. Stress abounds as an expecting mother. You can help ease stress and feel better throughout your pregnancy by practicing yoga regularly along with walking or another favorite cardio exercise. The mind-body benefits of yoga are many. Yoga helps enhance your mood and helps you feel calmer, keep limber, build muscle tone, and improve circulation. It’s particularly beneficial for pregnant women because yoga teaches you to breathe deeply and relax. You’ll find that very helpful when you’re in labor! Prenatal yoga classes have become very popular so you should be able to easily locate one at a nearby gym or community center.Things You Should Do
- Your baby’s lungs are rapidly growing now, so be mindful that air pollutants can pass from your lungs to the placenta and your baby. This increases the risk of childhood asthma. Close off your bedroom and use a HEPA filter if you live in a high air pollution area.
- Start a scrapbook and fill it with your belly photos and other memorable moments of your pregnancy.
Words You Should KnowBilirubin: A yellow pigment that’s created during normal recycling of old red blood cells. High levels of bilirubin in a baby cause jaundice.Fetal Distress: When an unborn baby hasn’t moved much (or at all) or has a slower than normal heartbeat. This can mean that the baby isn’t receiving enough oxygen.Fetoscopy: A procedure that allows access to the developing baby to check for abnormalities.Incompetent Cervix: Premature opening of the cervix without contractions.