This week is the week of the fast growth and development in every aspect. You may be sure that your baby can hear songs that you sing to him. As you can see at the screen of ultrasound, he/she is moving more precisely. It would be useful to do an ultrasound during this week or even amniocentesis if you belong to a risk group for having a baby with genetic disorders. If we exclude this, 17th week of your pregnancy could be the week of relaxation, light exercise and shopping of new and comfortable clothes for your pregnancy days.
What Is Developed at the 17th Week?
There are many changes that occur during the 17th week of your pregnancy. Fat layer is being formed underneath the baby’s skin to keep the body temperature and keep the baby safe and healthy. They weigh around 150 g and 13 cm long from head to bottom. His/her face looks entirely human as well as the eyebrows and eyelashes which have started to grow. He/she can move their eyes around; even his/her eyelids are still fused shut. Now, baby moves arms and legs, bends joints while his/her sweat glands are forming as well. If you are first-time mum, you can feel wriggling of your baby. With no doubt, it is exciting, therefore you may feel even more connection with your little one. Your baby’s toes and fingers are formed as they develop the fingerprints that will stay for the rest of their lives. Your baby starts to be a unique person.
At this stage, the baby starts to recognize your voice and other familiar voices as well as feel all your emotions. Also, the baby starts to respond to too loud and sudden sounds.
It gets noisy for your baby with constantly hearing your voice and your heartbeat, blood flow and breathing. If you play music, your baby may even move around in your womb. After the birth, he/she’ll need some light noise playing in the background during the sleep. The immune system of your baby starts with its activity at this stage; the body begins to produce its immunoglobulin and interferon. Now, in the case of a mother’s disease, a baby has its protection.
Your baby’s heartbeat is still beating between 140-150 beats per minute. If your baby is a girl, her uterus starts to form.
Baby’s pituitary gland is active as well as adrenal glands.
At the 17th week of pregnancy, the rudiments of teeth start to form, too.
Myelin is white, fatty, important substance, which envelop nerves. It helps fast traveling of messages between your baby’s brain and the nerves around his body. It also protects his nerves. Now, it is slowly covering the baby’s spinal cord all around.
Your baby’s skeleton continues to harden while his/her head and body are getting more in proportion. The umbilical cord grows stronger and thicker, too.
What Are the Changes of Your Body and Your Life?
You are probably feeling healthier and active while a bit more energetic and less tired at this stage. Your uterus continues to push upward about 3 to 5 cm below your belly button as well as start to push other organs on the side, including your intestines. It is the right time to start exercises for strengthening muscles, which hold your bladder, womb and lower bowel in place. Your midwife can show you some of the exercises. As a part of belly growth, the center of gravity changes and many start feeling imbalance while walking up or down the stairs.
Change in the weight of 2.5 to 5 kg in plus is expected. More than 7 kg extra weight at this stage can be a reason for a doctor’s visit.
You should limit your stress situations since it all affects the baby’s state as well, so try to be calm and relaxed.
Ultrasound and Other Tests
By doing common ultrasound examination, your doctor will measure the head, length, and long bones of your baby to ensure that baby’s growing is in proper state.
Doctor will inspect all major organs: the heart with chambers, kidneys, bladder, brain, stomach, spine, and gender of your baby. He will survey the umbilical cord as well as the location of the placenta and amniotic fluid level.
The location of the placenta is the most common abnormal finding.
The placenta may fully or partially cover the opening of the cervix due to the low embryo placement in the uterus. This is called placenta previa. It is quite rare and occurs in 1-3% of pregnancies. A partial previa covers part of the cervical opening and will usually resolve on its own by 28 weeks, but complete previa will require a C-section around 36 weeks before the labor starts.
Amniocentesis isn’t a routine test. It is recommended if your baby has some malformations, or there’s a higher chance for such due to genetic behavior in the family history. Earlier blood test or scan can show that.
You can find out whether your baby has Down syndrome.
Amniocentesis can also identify inherited blood conditions, such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia and hemophilia as well as other genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and spina bifida. You can also find out whether you’re having a boy or a girl.
Your doctor will take amniotic fluid from your womb using a needle. He will insert the needle through your belly to take a small sample of the amniotic fluid. This fluid contains some of your baby’s cells that will be examined. The procedure takes about 10 minutes. If you think it would be painful for you, your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. Using an ultrasound during the procedure, your doctor can assess where the needle is, so your baby is safe.
You should rest for a bit after the procedure and you should be fine by tomorrow. In some cases, women can have bleeding or fluid coming out from vagina, or even have pain in tummy or have contractions. Those symptoms require medical attention immediately, because some evidences show that 1% of the women experience a miscarriage after amniocentesis. Since this is an invasive procedure, it should be done by experienced doctor, thus there are no reasons to worry.