Your pregnancy week-by-week: week seventeen

Your little one is now around 13cm. She weighs about the same as a £2 coin.

Your baby

There will be more significant changes this week as your baby starts to store body fat. This will help her produce more energy, and keep her warm after birth.

Your baby’s heart is now regulated by the brain but it will still be beating about twice as fast as yours. The cartilage that forms the skeleton is transforming into hard bone, and a white insulating substance called myelin is developing on your baby’s spinal cord. This provides protection and insulation to her nerves.

Taste buds are continuing to form in your baby’s mouth. Although her skin is still thin and transparent, sweat glands may now be forming within the skin.

You

Your baby bump may now be showing! Some mums-to-be might not be too happy about their clothes no longer fitting. Don’t worry – it’s a natural part of pregnancy. It won’t only be your tummy getting bigger – the milk-producing gland is growing to get you ready to feed your baby. You may go up by three bra sizes during pregnancy!

Stretch marks are common now your body is growing. You can help to prevent more appearing by using body creams or body – check out pharmacies for options. However, sometimes it’s hard to prevent them completely as they may be hereditary.

Have you noticed a vertical line running up your tummy, from your pubic area to your belly button? It is known as the ‘linea nigra’. It’s caused by hormones making pigment changes where your muscles in the tummy area stretch to allow room for your developing baby. The line will get darker as your pregnancy progresses but it should fade after the baby is born.

If you haven’t invested in some maternity clothes yet, don’t worry. You won’t wear them for long so you probably just need a couple of special items for occasions, then a few basic items. You can look out for second-hand maternity clothes at local mother and baby sales, or borrow some clothes from friends.

Your ovaries have started to release a hormone called ‘relaxin’, which relaxes ligaments and joints in preparation for birth when you need flexibility to push your baby out. This change means that you need to be careful when you do exercise as you could strain muscles more easily.

Your partner

Make sure your partner takes time to put her feet up (raise them above her heart) if she’s got oedema, which is swelling due to fluid retention. You might notice her hands, ankles and face becoming puffy.

If your partner complains of dizziness, visual disturbances and/or headache, then get medical help immediately as these symptoms, combined with the swelling, could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a potentially harmful condition of pregnancy.

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