All About Baby

Around this time your baby’s ears pop from his head and Baby-to-be can now sense sounds. After all, he has plenty to listen to in utero! He’s accustomed to the strong beating of your heart, blood rushing through your veins, and your stomach grumbling. He can also discern sounds outside the uterus, like your voice and music. Although, according to the Mayo Clinic, whether he can distinguish the sound of your voice versus other sounds is not yet clear.

On average, most moms are feeling fetal movement by week 17. Kick, little one, kick!

This week your little one weighs in at around 5 ounces and stretches to just over 5 inches (crown to rump). He is about the size of a red onion.

All About You

Each time you go to the doctor or clinic, they dip a strip of paper in a cup of your urine to measure your blood sugar level. What’s with that blood sugar test, anyway? It’s to make sure you’re not developing gestational diabetes, a condition that affects around one to two percent of all pregnant women. When blood sugar levels are controlled (through diet and sometimes medication), women can have normal pregnancies and normal, healthy babies.

Pregnancy Weight Gain and Other Symptoms

Daily, your body’s changing inside and out to accommodate your baby-to-be. As your skin stretches, your breasts and abdomen may become itchy. Your baby bump will begin to change your posture so that your back may ache. Inside your body, your stomach is getting more cramped, sometimes leading to heartburn, indigestion, and flatulence. You may also notice mood swings as pregnancy hormones continue to play with your emotions.

Unsightly Pregnancy Signs

Your body undergoes many changes to give your baby-to-be enough room to grow. Some of these changes are comforting — your rounded belly and your full breasts, for example — while other signs can be troubling. Keep in mind that many of these physical changes will last only until your baby arrives.

  • Bleeding gums: Your blood volume has increased dramatically to provide nutrients to your baby-to-be. This increase, along with swelling caused by pregnancy hormones, might make your gums bleed.
  • Stretch marks: Whether or not you have stretch marks is a matter of genetics. No amount of specialty abdominal creams or Vitamin E pills are going to prevent stretch marks (despite claims to the contrary), but most women find that these stretch marks fade over time after the baby’s birth.
  • Weight gain: You should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. As distressing as weight gain can be for some women, those pounds are necessary for your growing baby. Much of the weight is extra fluids (such as blood), tissues (like your breasts), and of course, your baby. If you eat a sensible pregnancy diet and stay fit, you should be able to lose much of your pregnancy weight after your baby’s birth. (Some women are able to shed pounds in a matter of weeks; others need as much as a year to get their bodies back in shape).
  • Dark line (linea nigra): As your abdominal muscles stretch to make room for your growing uterus, you may notice a dark line extending from your belly button to your vaginal area. After birth, this line will disappear.
  • Swelling (edema): Your body retains water to provide the necessary fluids for your growing baby-to-be. You can prevent much of this swelling from drinking plenty of fluids and keeping your legs up. You may also want to purchase socks designed to improve the circulation in your feet.
  • Skin spots: The skin’s pigmentation may deepen around certain parts of your body during pregnancy, such as your nipples and freckles. You may also notice spots of color on your face, called the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. These pigmentation changes will fade after your baby’s born.
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Q & A

Got questions about Week 17? Other women have asked this…

Q: When is the right time to choose a baby name?

Parents should take as long as they need to find a name. It’s important you find a name that’s comfortable and fitting. Timing varies from person to person, and birth to birth. I’ve spoken to parents who surfed online for names in the hospital just minutes before their son was born, and parents who had names picked out years in advance. Read more about baby names.

Q: I’m pregnant and have genital warts. Will this hurt my baby?

It’s rare for babies to catch the virus that causes genital warts from their moms. While some children do develop warts on their vocal cords or in the diaper area, it is not necessarily linked to whether the mom had genital warts during pregnancy. Read more about genital warts.

Q: When can I find out the sex of my baby? Do the ultrasound technicians ever make mistakes?

While checking on the well-being of your baby, an ultrasound technician may also be able to determine the gender of your baby as early as week 16 or week 17 of pregnancy (however, between weeks 18 and 26 is best). Read more about finding out the gender of your baby.

Your Partner

Your Job as Coach

One of the hardest things for many fathers-to-be is the sense of helplessness they feel. Men can’t chip in by carrying their growing baby, giving their partners a break by going to the bathroom every 15 minutes, or by struggling to sleep at night. No, expecting dads just have to watch their partners cope with certain aspects of pregnancy all by themselves.

Some men respond to this situation by becoming Nervous Nellies. They worry over everything, afraid the slightest change means something might be wrong with their unborn child. In these cases, they mean to be helpful but may only end up stressing their partners out!

Some men disengage from the pregnancy experience, leaving their partners to manage the pregnancy alone. Others act out against their partners, even calling them fat or ridiculing them for eating too much. These reactions stem from the same out-of-control feelings. It can be difficult for men who want to step in and help but are instead be relegated only to sit back, watch, and cheer from the sidelines.

The best thing you can to do at this point is to focus on supporting your partner in any way she needs it. Help her reduce her worry, her responsibilities, her load, literally and figuratively. Think of your job as being her coach. Here are some tips:

  • Make her snacks or buy her a water bottle so she never is without food or drink
  • If you aren’t already, help out more at home so she can get more rest
  • Give her foot or back massages

In essence, pamper your partner now more than ever because in doing so you will also be pampering and feeding your unborn baby as well as building even more intimacy between you and your partner. If you can remember that everything you do for her you are also doing for your baby, you will feel more connected, more a part of this incredible process of pregnancy.