Your baby is the size of a pear

17 Weeks Pregnant: Your Baby's Development

Wouldn’t it be great if your bump had a little window? Those ultrasound scans can seem so few and far between when there’s so much going on in there!

If you could peek inside now, you’d see that your little one is looking more and more human each week. The head and body are now more in proportion with each other, the features are becoming more pronounced, and eyebrows and lashes are sprouting.

Your foetus is growing fingernails, and the eyes can already move − though they remain firmly shut for the time being.

This week, your little one may still be looking a little wrinkled, but your foetus will soon start getting plumper as a layer of insulating fat forms under the skin.

There’s one pattern of wrinkles and lines in the skin that won’t be going away. Your little one now has a completely unique set of fingerprints! If you’re pregnant with twins or triplets, each of your little ones has a different set of fingerprints, too.

It’s also possible that you may be feeling some of your baby’s movements in your belly at 17 weeks pregnant. If this isn’t your first baby, then you may be more aware of what the feeling is like, and recognize it sooner.

At 17 weeks pregnant you might still be waiting for this to happen, but in the next few weeks you could experience a faint bubbling or fluttering feeling in your tummy. This is sometimes referred to as ‘quickening’.

These early movements can usually be felt any time between around 16 and 24 weeks, but every pregnancy is different. Don’t worry if your little one is still keeping a low profile, especially if this is your first pregnancy. First-time mums-to-be often don’t feel anything until sometime after 20 weeks.

If you haven’t felt any movement by 24 weeks, tell your midwife, who can check your foetus’s heartbeat and movements.

These first detectable movements may be barely perceptible, but as they get stronger you might eventually learn to tell the difference between punches and kicks.

It can be very reassuring to feel your little one moving around in there. It’s also a great early opportunity for your partner to start bonding with your little one. Place your partner’s hand on your tummy and wait for the enchanted reaction as you experience this important milestone together.

Another good way of involving your partner in the bonding process at this early stage might be to attend antenatal classes together.


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The Size of the Foetus at 17 Weeks Pregnant

At 17 weeks pregnant, your foetus is now about the size of a pear, measuring close to 12 centimetres crown to rump, and weighing in at around 150 grams.

To get a visual idea of what things are looking like inside your belly, check out the illustration below:

baby at 17 weeks pregnant

Mum’s Body at 17 Weeks Pregnant

It’s not only your growing foetus that’s responsible for your weight gain at 17 weeks pregnant. Your placenta is getting bigger all the time so that it can keep your little one supplied with nutrients and oxygen.

By the end of your pregnancy, your placenta alone will weigh around half a kilogram!

Your figure could be undergoing a major transformation by now. As your uterus moves upwards and out of your pelvis, it causes your waist to disappear as you take on a more obviously ‘pregnant’ shape.

As your body shape changes, your centre of gravity can also shift. This can contribute to the back pain that is common during pregnancy.

Many mums-to-be find themselves feeling and looking great at this stage. You may find that you have fuller, shiner hair as your hair’s natural shedding cycle slows. The increased blood volume in your body and pregnancy hormones can give your skin a radiant glow.

If this sounds like you, enjoy these well-earned perks of the second trimester! If you’re having less of an easy ride, keep in mind that not everyone’s experience of pregnancy is the same.

Some mums-to-be find it harder than others to adjust to the rapid physical changes, and around 1 in 10 women report feelings of stress or anxiety during their pregnancy.

The hormonal rollercoaster ride that you may be on can also make some small problems seem bigger than they are. Chatting to friends or family members you trust and feel comfortable with might help put things into perspective.

Keep in mind that most mums-to-be experience mood swings during pregnancy, and this is hardly surprising given all the changes that you’re going through at the moment. You can also talk to your midwife or doctor if you are feeling anxious, down or worried. There is a lot of support available out there, if you need it.

17 Weeks Pregnant: Your Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing at 17 weeks pregnant:

  • Piles (haemorrhoids). Yes, they really are a pain in the… you know what! Haemorrhoids form when blood vessels become enlarged in or around your rectum or anus, causing swelling that can be itchy or painful.. Piles can occur even when you’re not pregnant, but the extra hormones in your body during pregnancy can make it easier for them to develop. They may also be caused or made worse by constipation – another common pregnancy symptom in the second trimester. Symptoms of piles can include an itchy or sore bottom, and pain or light bleeding when passing a stool. Eating enough fibre and doing exercise can help prevent piles from forming, but if they do develop ask your midwife or doctor about the best way to treat them.

  • Heartburn and indigestion. By now, morning sickness is a thing of the past for most mums-to-be, but you might be experiencing heartburn and indigestion. These symptoms are more common in the later stages of pregnancy, but can strike at any time. Try to avoid indigestion by eating smaller amounts frequently rather than three or four square meals a day. Drinking less coffee and other caffeine-based drinks, and following a healthy diet with fewer rich, spicy or fatty foods can also alleviate the symptoms. Ask your midwife or GP if you need extra help with the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

  • Stretch marks. As your little one grows and goes through growth spurts, your skin may be stretching faster than it would like to. As a result, you may start noticing red or purple streaks on your stomach or breasts. As many as 8 in 10 mums-to-be experience stretch marks, so if you have them you’re not alone! They usually fade over time after your baby is born, leaving only a silvery trace. There are plenty of creams marketed as treating stretch marks, but experts say that time – perhaps helped along by an unscented moisturiser – is the best healer.

17 Weeks Pregnant: Things to Consider

  • You may now be eager to know whether you’re having a boy or a girl. At your next ultrasound scan, which is usually between 18 and 21 weeks, you may get a chance to find out the probable gender of your future baby (if you want to). Bear in mind that it’s impossible to be 100 percent certain about the sex of your little one based on a scan, and if the foetus is lying in the wrong position it may be difficult or impossible to see if you’re going to have a boy or girl. Just for fun, you could also try this light-hearted way of ‘predicting’ your little one’s gender.

  • Some hospitals have a policy of not telling parents the sex of the foetus during ultrasound scans, so ask about this beforehand if you’re keen to know. You may also need to tell the sonographer at the beginning of the scan if you’d like to be told the probable gender of your little one. Keep in mind that the main purpose of the mid-pregnancy scan is to check that your foetus is developing as expected. The sonographer may not always be able to devote as much time as you’d like to finding out if your little one is a girl or boy, especially if the star of the show isn’t cooperating.

  • Some hospitals and clinics offer private 3D and 4D scans for a fee. These show a much high level of detail than the conventional 2D scans performed for diagnostic purposes. The term 3D here refers to the technology’s ability to render 3D stills of your foetus, while 4D allows you to actually see a moving 3-dimensional image of your little one. If you opt for one of these, the sonographer will be able to spend more time showing you what you want to see. It’s worth waiting for your little one to develop a bit more before shelling out for this little luxury, though. Between 28 and 32 weeks your little one’s features are more fully developed, so that personality can really shine through! Seeing that little face for the first time, or catching sight of a yawn or other familiar gesture can be an incredibly moving experience. It’s also a great way for you and your partner or other family members to form an early bond with your little one. Ultrasound scans are not thought to pose a risk to you or your foetus, but it’s a good idea to discuss the pros and cons of non-medical scans with your midwife or doctor before deciding whether to have one.

  • Pregnancy can sometimes put a strain on even the most harmonious relationship, which is understandable given all the financial and practical worries that such a big lifestyle change can bring. It can help to avoid or defuse conflicts if you talk to your partner about your feelings and involve them as much as possible in events related to your pregnancy, like scans, antenatal classes and general planning. If you think you need outside support, your midwife or GP can help you find counselling and support groups in your area.

  • Navigating becoming a father for the first (or second) time can be hard on your partner as well at times. Check out our articles on getting ready to become a dad for the first time, and on tips for becoming a dad for the second time.

17 Weeks Pregnant: Ask Your Doctor

  • Is it normal to get headaches? What can you do about it?

  • What are the risks and benefits of amniocentesis if you’re offered it?

  • What types of genetic testing may be offered during the second trimester?

  • Is it safe to get a professional massage at this stage or pregnancy?

17 Weeks Pregnant: Your Checklist

  • Planning a babymoon? Ask your doctor or midwife about travelling when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.

  • Start making a shortlist of baby names (if you haven’t already). You’ll need to make two lists if you don’t yet know whether you’re having a boy or a girl, or you could browse some of our suggestions for gender-neutral names!

  • Ask your midwife about what antenatal classes are available in your local area. They are free if provided through the NHS, but demand can be high, so it’s best to book as early as possible.

  • It’s normal to worry about the extra expenses that having a baby can bring. Read up on our ideas to help you save.

  • Sign up for even more weekly pregnancy tips:

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.