Your Guide to Being 17 Weeks Pregnant:
How did you feel in month five?
Your baby’s main job this week is to plump out. She’s now about the right size to fit into your palm, and is developing a layer of fat under her skin. This will help keep her warm after the birth, but for now, your amniotic fluid does the job for her, keeping her at a constant 37.5C – slightly warmer than your own body temperature.
Your baby is now recognisably either a boy or a girl, with a visible penis and testes or a fledgling uterus and vagina. If you’re having a girl, she already has around two million eggs in her ovaries.
Connections are constantly forming in her brain, meaning she has more control over her limbs, fingers and toes. Her blood circulation is well established, and the umbilical cord is becoming thicker and longer to transport oxygen and nutrients into her body. Your baby and the placenta are almost the same size.
What’s happening to you
Your baby is growing fast, and so are you – by now, the top of your uterus should be about 17cm above your pubic bone. Pregnancy hormones will soften and relax your muscles and ligaments to help your body cope with this growth.
You’re carrying around 40 per cent more blood than you had pre-pregnancy to supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients. This extra blood volume makes all your tissues more engorged, and you might find your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. It’s completely normal, but take advantage of your right to free NHS dental treatment in pregnancy – bleeding gums can also be a sign of gum disease, which is linked with premature labour.
As your baby gets heavier, don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing the loo more often.Try to minimise nocturnal toilet trips by cutting out caffeine – it both increases urine production and overstimulates your bladder.
When to check it out
Frequent weeing is normal, but if it stings when you go, you have lower back and abdominal pain and feel generally unwell, you could have a urinary tract infection. Untreated, UTIs can develop into kidney infections and even trigger premature labour, so get your GP or midwife to test a urine sample.
‘To do’ this week
Treat yourself to some indulgent stretch mark cream and slather it on daily. Stretch marks are thought to be genetic, and the jury’s out on whether prevention products actually do any good, but hey, who needs an excuse for a bit of pampering?