Week 17: Your pregnancy
Your baby's growth: She's 5 inches long!
Your baby is now almost 5 inches long and weighs about 4 to 5 ounces. She's firmly anchored via the umbilical cord to the placenta, which continues to grow with her. The placenta, which is now more than an inch thick, contains thousands of blood vessels that exchange nutrients and oxygen from your body to your baby.
Big happenings this week include:
- Fat production. Layers of fat are beginning to develop under the skin to help keep your baby warm and protect her after birth.
- Skeletal changes. A rubbery skeleton continues to develop, although her bones are still mostly cartilage, flexible enough to enable her to pass through the birth canal.
- Spinal cord protection. A protective coating called myelin is slowly beginning to cover your baby's spinal cord. This coating will help protect the cord for the rest of her life.
Your baby's feces
As your pregnancy progresses, your baby's first feces is starting to build up in her bowels. It's called meconium. This sticky substance is made up of dead cells, digestive juices and swallowed amniotic fluid. Meconium is usually not excreted until after birth, although occasionally she may release it into the amniotic fluid before delivery.
What's happening with you
- Weight gain. By now you've probably gained about 10 pounds.
- Increased secretions. As your blood volume continues to increase, you may notice you're sweating more and may have more mucus and vaginal discharge. The secretion of these substances will drop to normal levels after the birth of the baby.
- Clumsiness. You may also feel a bit off-balance as your slowly enlarging uterus shifts your center of gravity. This can contribute to the "pregnancy clumsiness" some moms feel. Just take your time, watch where you're walking, and wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
- Increased foot size. Be prepared for your feet to increase in size and/or flatten out a bit from the excess weight.