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17 weeks pregnant - all you need to know

Your baby is about the size of an orange, about 12cm long, and weighs roughly 150g. Your bump is getting bigger.

17 weeks infographic.

What does my baby look like in week 17? 

If you could see your baby’s face, you’d notice eyelashes and eyebrows starting to grow.

And if you could take their hand, you’d see they already have a unique fingerprint.

Before this point, your baby’s head was bigger in proportion to their body. Now, however, their body is starting to fill out, and their proportions are starting to even out. 

Your baby’s eyes can move, although their eyelids are still shut, and won’t open again until week 26. The bone tissue in their feet begins to harden.

The placenta continues to grow to keep up with your baby's needs. By the time you give birth it will weigh about 500g.

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 17

Do you have swollen feet? Suffering from pelvic pain or headaches?

Here’s our guide to 10 common pregnancy complaints (and how to avoid them).

Bump watch

Your waist will start to disappear as your womb moves up out of your pelvis and your bump becomes more noticeable. If you've been pregnant before, your bump may start showing a bit sooner than for first-time mums. Have you thought about keeping a bump diary and taking pictures each week?

How are you feeling?

You may start to feel happier and more confident as your bump becomes more noticeable and you start to feel baby move. Some women and men find that their pregnancy suddenly feels more real when they first see the baby at a scan.

You may also have more energy to enjoy getting out and about more.

However, pregnancy can make worries about money or relationships feel bigger. As many as 1 in 10 expectant mums feel stressed and anxious.

Pregnancy hormones can often be to blame, not to mention coping with health issues, worrying about giving birth and the responsibilities of parenthood.

If you’re feeling stressed and anxious, or suffering from depression, don’t hesitate to tell your midwife. They are there to talk about your mental wellbeing in pregnancy, as well as your physical health. Our mental wellbeing tool can also help you think about how you are feeling during your pregnancy and plan ahead for after the birth. You can complete your pregnancy and post-birth wellbeing plan at any point during pregnancy.

What to do in week 17

You’ll have your second scan, known as the ‘fetal anomaly scan' between 18 and 21 weeks.

The reason for this scan is to check the growth and development of your baby.

The sonographer might also be able to tell the sex of your baby at this scan, though some hospitals have a policy of not revealing this. If you'd prefer not to know whether you're having a boy or a girl, let them know so they don't accidentally tell you the gender.

‘I didn’t find out what we were expecting in my first pregnancy. In some ways waiting was excruciating but it was so exciting not knowing. We found out with our second, but I think I preferred the element of surprise the first time!’

Lucy, mum of two.

Find out more about pregnancy ultrasound scans.

You do not need to eat for two

You may be wondering what to eat, or how much. No matter what well-meaning people might say you don’t need to eat for two during pregnancy. Your baby takes everything they need from your body, and will grow well without you taking in any extra calories at all until the last three months.

Once you reach six months pregnancy, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, which is around half a sandwich.

Here are 10 super snack suggestions to help your baby grow.

Are you getting enough vitamin D?

All pregnant women should take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D each day to give your baby enough vitamin D for the first few months of life.

Without it, there is a risk that your child will have soft bones, which can lead to rickets (a disease that affects bone development in children).

Find out about more vital supplements in pregnancy.

Aerobics in pregnancy

Aerobics is great for your heart and lungs and improves muscle strength. If you’ve been doing aerobics, you can carry on while you’re pregnant.

If you’re new to it, tell the instructor you’re pregnant and start with just 15 minutes' continuous exercise three times a week. Increase this gradually to a maximum of four 30-minute sessions a week.

“I exercised throughout both my pregnancies, right up until my due date. I was more tired in the second pregnancy, because I was running around after my daughter, but I always did something active because it made me feel better.”

Anna, mum of two

Find out more about when to be careful when exercising in pregnancy

Free prescriptions and NHS dental care

If you haven't yet applied for your maternity exemption certificate - which you can use to get free NHS dental treatment and free prescriptions - ask your doctor or midwife about it.

You'll need to fill in a form FW8, which they will be able to give you. Read our frequently asked questions about drugs and medicines in pregnancy.

Sources

Lennart Nilsson (2009) A Child is Born, Johnathan Cape

NHS Choices (2013). You and your pregnancy at 17-20 weeks pregnant. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-17-18-19-20.aspx#close (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020)

NICE (2008) Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies,Clinical guideline [CG62] Last updated: January 2017. https://www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/cg62

RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf

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    Last reviewed on June 26th, 2018. Next review date June 26th, 2021.

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    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2017 - 09:32

      Very sorry to hear that you are feeling unwell. Please remember to contact your midwife team and arrange to be seen as soon as you can. The 16 week appointment is important to ensure that all tests have been done and that blood results are filed in your notes to ensure continuity of care. You may also get a chance to listen to your baby's heartbeat. We hope you feel better soon. Tommy's midwives

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 22 Mar 2017 - 17:27

      I am 17 weeks and 5 days. I've been feeling small movements since the very end of my 15th week; every couple of days they became stronger. The past 3 or so days the movements have been less, and I'm worried. Is everything okay?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Mar 2017 - 14:34

      Hi , It is probably too early for the fetal movements to have formed a recognisable pattern yet and I am sure that you are aware that many women don't feel any movements until after 20 weeks. That said, you have the option to call your midwife and ask that she/he listens to the fetal heart with a sonicaid (hand held Doppler) for your reassurance. I expect that you will have an anomaly scan very soon which will be a detailed scan of the baby and placenta. This is normally done between 18 and 22 weeks. Don't hesitate to call if you require more information. Best wishes

    • By lindiwe (not verified) on 15 Mar 2017 - 14:56

      Always have a headache and tired

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Mar 2017 - 09:42

      Hi Lindiwe.
      If you are feeling constantly tired and have headaches, it is vitally important that you visit a midwife at your local hospital. You may need to take iron if your iron levels in your blood are low, feeling tired can be asign of this.
      Having a constant headache can be a sign of pre-eclampsia too, so you may needs blood taking for that too. Please take yourself in urgently to be reviewed on your local labour ward or triage. Please take good care of yourself

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jan 2017 - 16:10

      Hi, we really appreciate your feedback.
      Many thanks
      Tommy's Midwives

    • By Mrs Nyangoni (not verified) on 18 Jan 2017 - 14:36

      Am well informed nd very happy for this information

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