Week 17 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

Welcome to week 17 of your pregnancy. While your second trimester is less hard on your body than the first and the third, you’ll likely still experience some physical unpleasantries, thanks in part to your growing baby elbowing your organs out of his or her way.

week 17 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell

Your Trimester: Second trimester

Weeks to Go: 23

You This Week

Your baby-to-be is not the only thing moving right now. Your organs are on their own journey, with your uterus now about halfway between your pubic bone and belly button, nudging your intestines up and out toward the side of your abdomen.

At the same time, your growing baby may be putting pressure on your sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. It branches from your lower back, through your rear end, and down the back of your legs, so when baby pushes on it, you may experience periodic pain anywhere along that pathway.

Another unpleasant side effect you may be experiencing right about now: pregnancy rhinitis, a.k.a. pregnancy-related congestion. In fact, it affects about 39 percent of pregnant women, with most cases striking between week 13 and week 21, according to a study in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. It’s thought that an increase of blood volume and various hormonal shifts cause mucous glands to ramp up production, causing stuffy noses and sneezing fits.

Your Baby This Week

Your little 5¾-inches long, 4-ounce baby now weighs more than his or her placenta. At week 17, your baby is beginning to form adipose (fat) tissue. Its main jobs? To store energy, insulate the body, protect organs, and fill out baby’s features (helping him or her look more like you).

At the same time, the umbilical cord and placenta are steadily growing. The former is thickening and lengthening to better nourish your baby, while the latter now contains thousands of blood vessels working to deliver nutrients and oxygen from your body to your baby.

Remember how the small bones that make up baby’s auditory system were starting to make serious headway a couple of weeks ago? By now, they may be developed enough to actually allow baby to hear your voice, whether you’re singing lullabies or ordering a pizza.

At Your Doctor’s Office

Now that energy is likely up, it’s a great time to talk more with your healthcare provider about exercise—or, more specifically, what’s safe and what’s not. For instance, it’s generally recommended that pregnant women avoid contact sports like soccer, as well as physical activities that involve sudden up-and-down movements. Your doctor or midwife can help you determine if your go-to activity is pregnancy-approved.

If it’s not, know that it’s still important to find something that works for you. After all, exercise during pregnancy may decrease rates of gestational diabetes and Cesarean section, as well as postpartum recovery time, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

If you already had chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or an amniocentesis that resulted in inconclusive results, your healthcare provider may offer cordocentesis, also known as percutaneous umbilical blood sampling, after 17 weeks of pregnancy. Cordocentesis is a diagnostic prenatal test in which blood is extracted from the umbilical cord and tested for infection, genetic disorders, and blood conditions.

Taking Care

If pregnancy rhinitis has you sniffling, sneezing, and feeling congested, try using saline spray, a neti pot (a nasal irrigation tool that uses 100 percent saline), and/or wearing a nasal strip at night to help open up your nasal passages. At the same time, sleep with an extra pillow or two under your head to let gravity work on draining your congestion.

It’s also best to avoid environmental triggers like chemical fumes and cigarette smoke (good practice regardless). If nothing seems to be working, talk to your healthcare provider about decongestant medication options; an over-the-counter standby may not be advised during pregnancy.

For Partners

By the second trimester, your partner may be experiencing heightened sexual desire. (This, however, is not a universal truth. Some women experience the opposite.) Her energy may be up and her level of nausea down, putting her more in the mood than she was before. There’s also an increase in blood flow and fluids to her genital area that can make the clitoris and vagina more sensitive.

But know this: Your desire may increase or decrease, as well. While some enjoy the changes happening to their partner’s bodies and feel a stronger sense of connection, others may experience anxiety about harming the baby during intercourse and stress about their upcoming role as a parent. You may also be struggling to adjust to your partner’s changing identity from sexual partner to expectant mother. The most important thing? Talk about it, reserving judgment, and remember that the both of you are adjusting.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Pick up a neti pot; saline spray; or nasal strips, if needed.
  • Restart your exercise routine, if you took a break in previous weeks, tweaking your routine if advised.

Last Week: Week 16

Coming Up: Week 18

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