Women's Healthcare Topics
James Brann, MD. Ob/Gyn

17 Weeks Pregnant

Pregnant Belly Changes

Shifting Center of Gravity - As your belly gets larger, you should be aware that your center of gravity shifts upward. You may start to feel uneasy on your feet or unbalanced. This is a normal pregnancy change and shouldn't cause you any concern. To avoid any falls, you may want to opt for low-heeled shoes instead of high-heels.

Heartburn and Indigestion - As the uterus continues to grow it has risen to just below your navel. Your expanding uterus is pushing upward, against your stomach and other abdominal organs. As this happens, you may start to experience heartburn, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal discomfort.

In addition to uterus pushing against your abdominal organs, your pregnancy hormones are also to blame for your heartburn. The elevated levels of the hormone progesterone relaxes the valve that separates your stomach from your esophagus, making it easy for your stomach acid to seep back up into your esophagus and giving you the burning sensation associated with heartburn.

Unfortunately, heartburn is a common side effect of pregnancy that will last until your baby arrives into the world.

You won't be able to completely eliminate it, but there are certain steps you can do to try to prevent it from occurring.

  • Change your eating habits. Instead of eating large meals, eat smaller meals throughout the day. You should also take it slow, chewing thoroughly and eating slowly. This will make it easier for your stomach to digest the foods that you're eating.

  • Don't lie down immediately after you eating. You may want to wait an hour or two before lying down.

  • Avoid eating foods that trigger heartburn, such as greasy or fatty foods, spicy foods, and caffeine-containing foodies.

  • You may want to limit how much you drink during meals. Sipping during your meals is best. Avoid using straws.

  • If you love chewing gum, you should have a piece of gum after you eat. Saliva can help neutralize the acid in your stomach.

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Clothes that are too tight or pinch can contribute to heartburn.

You can take an over-the-counter anti-acid that has calcium or magnesium to ease your discomfort. However, always talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before taking them. Some anti-acids contain aspirin, which is not recommended for some pregnant women. If you need stronger relief, you may want to talk to your doctor about prescription medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.

More Energy in the Second Trimester - Many pregnant women find that they have more energy during pregnancy now. You can look forward to this renewed energy until your third trimester!

Vaginal Discharge - You may be having more vaginal discharge at this stage in your pregnancy. The increased vaginal discharge is referred to as leucorrhoea, it is odorless and a milky or clear color. Part of the reason you produce more vaginal secretions is your body's increased estrogen production and more blood flow to the genital area.

You will actually notice even more vaginal discharge during the latter half of your pregnancy then now. Sometimes it is difficult to discern whether you are leaking amniotic fluid or just increased vaginal discharge. Typically amniotic fluid will be more clear and abundant. If you are not certain if your discharge is normal, or if it is bloody, you should contact your healthcare provider.

If you are having discharge that is accompanied by itching or burning, you might have a yeast infection. Foul smelling discharge may also be a sign of an infection. It is important that you contact your health care provider if you think you may be suffering from any of these symptoms.

Weight Gain

Your pregnancy weight gain at 17 weeks pregnant may be anywhere between nine to ten pounds. For the average sized woman, you have about twenty more pounds to go. (The recommended weight gain for the normal sized woman is between 25 and 35 pounds.)

Continue to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle as your pregnancy continues. Your baby continues to develop and grow, so you will steadily gain at least one or two pounds with each week that passes in the second trimester.

Baby Section

Growth and Development of Baby

At 17 weeks pregnant your baby is getting bigger with each week that passes. Your baby measures around 5.1 inches from crown to rump, and he or she weighs up to 5 ounces. If you were to hold your baby, he or she would fit snuggly in the palm of your hand.

Your baby is full of life in your womb - flipping, flopping, and doing somersaults! If you aren't already feeling your baby's movements, it won't be too long now.

These movements are called "quickening," and you will feel them sooner if you are an experienced mom.

Your little one started moving in the first trimester, around pregnancy week 7 or 8, but it's not until the second trimester that you will feel his or her little acrobatics! Most pregnant women notice fetal movement between 16 and 22 weeks pregnant.

Enjoy this wonderful experience, and share it with your partner. The two of you may want to share some intimate moments touching your belly and dreaming of the new baby and what he or she will belike.

The most exciting part of this week is that your baby can now hear! That means it's time to get out the recorder and play some music for your baby. Gentle and soothing music may be just what you need to relax! You can also start talking to your baby. Don't feel shy about talking out loud. You want your baby to hear you.

Your baby can also sense your touch, so be sure to rub your belly gently often. You may notice that your baby responds by fluttering here and there.

Currently, your baby is practicing his first breathing movements. With each little "breath" baby takes, his diaphragm contracts and his chest wall moves up. Fluid is also pushed out of the lungs. These "breaths" last less than a second, and your baby may even open his mouth and swallow amniotic fluid.

At this stage of fetal development, these breathing movements occur only occasionally. It is not until the end of the second trimester when air sacs form in the fetal lungs that your baby will spend more time practicing his breathing movements.

It's common for your baby to bring his hands to the face and even suck his thumb. However, sucking is not coordinated at this stage of development.

Your baby is a little acrobat in the womb now. He is in a constant state of movement - changing positions, stretching and curling his arms and legs.

Pregnancy Health Section

Household Cleaning during Pregnancy

At 17 weeks pregnant, you may want to use your new burst of renewed energy to do some household cleaning. Vacuuming and laundry will not be a problem, and they may even be a good way to exercise! However, when it comes to common household cleaning products, you should take some precautions.

Because some household cleaners contain harmful chemicals and toxins that can be inhaled or absorbed through your skin (crossing the placenta to your baby), you have to be careful about the products you use to clean.

Tips for Cleaning
When cleaning during pregnancy, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Read the labels on your cleaning products very carefully. Throughout your pregnancy , you need to avoid any products that are considered "toxic."

  • Always wear rubber gloves when you clean. You may want to also wear long sleeves and long pants. You don't want to risk getting the cleaning products on your skin.

  • Make sure that the area that you are cleaning has good ventilation. You may want to keep windows and doors open.

  • Ask your partner or husband to clean the oven. Commercial oven cleaners are considered toxic and can harm your unborn baby. Plus, the oven is a tight space and does not offer good ventilation.

  • Don't mix different chemicals (such as ammonia and bleach) together, because they can create dangerous fumes that can harm you.

  • Stay away from fumes. Not only are some fumes dangerous but they may also trigger nausea.

If you are worried about using commercial cleaners, you may want to use more natural products instead. For example, you can use baking soda to scrub greasy areas, pots and pans, bathtubs, and ovens. For countertops, you can mix distilled vinegar and water for an effective cleaner. Lemon juice is another natural substance that you can use as a cleaner.

Although using bleach and spray air fresheners is safe during pregnancy, some studies have linked them to your baby developing asthma in the future. You may want to avoid them, especially if their odor makes you nauseous.

If you can, try to get your partner or husband to clean for you. Pregnancy is a wonderful time for dad to be involved in the household chores!

Stress in Pregnancy

If you work in a stressful environment, it is important to reduce your stress level. Stress can have a devastating impact on pregnancy and childbirth.

There are actually some studies that suggest that stress can result in higher levels of a hormone called CRG or corticotropin-releasing hormone, which has been linked to preterm labor. This hormone may promote your body to release prostaglandins, which may result in contractions. Thus, it is critical you do everything possible to limit your stress level in pregnancy whenever possible.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

carpal tunnel syndrome in pregnancy

Some women will have symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome for the first time during their pregnancy. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is characterized by swelling, inflammation, pain and numbness in the fingers or wrist. The pain and discomfort seems to be worse during the evening hours, when sleeping and while working at a computer.

Pain and numbness in your fingers are actually common during pregnancy, in part due to the swelling and fluid tension that occurs. Most women will start to notice symptoms during the second trimester, when fluid retention becomes more severe.

The good news is that the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome usually abate a few short weeks after delivery. Some things you can do to relieve the symptoms include:

  • Use an ergonomic keyboard.

  • Use a wrist guard to stabilize your wrists.

  • Take frequent breaks in order to stretch your hands.

  • Consider some Tylenol if your physician recommends it.

If the pain and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome become severe to the point where they disrupt your sleep or work, your healthcare provider may take an extra step and require you to wear a splint or hand brace. This often alleviates many of these symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Physical therapy might also help during pregnancy. (next week)


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics