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Fetal Development: 17 Weeks

17 Weeks - Pregnancy


By week 17, your baby weighs about 5 ounces and is 5 inches long, crown to rump. His head is starting to look more proportional to his body, and he can hold his head more erect. His skeleton, which at first was a rubbery consistency, is starting to harden to bone, and he can move his joints quite well. Pads are beginning to form on his little fingertips and toes, and he is not far off from developing fingerprints.

Although his eyelids are still fused together, his eyes have moved from the side of his head to the front, and are facing forward now. His sense of hearing is now developing, and he is consumed with listening to the sounds of your heartbeat.

The umbilical cord is growing thicker and stronger and is functioning like a machine. Your baby is starting to gain meconium (from the swallowing of amniotic fluid) in his bowel, which will make up his first movement after he is born. His urinary tract, brain, muscles, nervous and circulatory systems are now functioning, and he breathes in the amniotic fluid to get his lungs ready for breathing air.


Your doctor may be talking to you about two different prenatal tests usually performed between the 15th and 20th weeks: the triple test and the amniocentesis. These genetic tests both test for neural tube defects and Down Syndrome. Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not be recommended to take these tests. The amniocentesis is usually recommended for women over age 35. Try not to get stressed out about these tests, because they often promote a lot of anxiety over your baby’s health. Chances are highly in your favor that your baby is just fine.

Your weight has transitioned up high into your belly, and this may put you a bit off balance. Another effect of your uterus moving high into your belly is breathlessness. You may feel like it’s difficult to take a deep breath sometimes. This will pass, when your stomach muscles stretch to accommodate your uterus, and eventually your baby will settle into your pelvis.

Have you felt your baby’s kicks yet? Most women experience this exciting sensation somewhere between week 16 and 20, so if you have not felt it yet, it will be any day. What do your baby’s kicks feel like? Many women describe it as a tickling, and some believe it feels a bit like gas. Pay close attention to your body’s signals in the coming weeks and you may feel your little one telling you he’s there. When you feel his kicks, it will give you a greater awareness that this pregnancy is going somewhere, and that you will soon have your very own baby.

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Fetal Development: By Month
Fetal Development: 4 Months
Fetal Development: 5 Months


ExpectantSee Screensaver Pregnancy Calendar: CD ROM


This should be used as a general guideline and is for general information and educational purposes only. Please remember that all pregnancies develop at different rates. If you have questions about your baby's development, please contact your doctor or midwife.









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