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17 Weeks Pregnant

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Your Baby

Check out what happened with your pregnancy last week.

Growth spurt. This week, your little one starts to plump up a bit. The fat that's acquired, also called adipose tissue, helps produce and retain body heat. Fat tissue is also important for metabolism, since it's a great source of energy. This is a time of tremendous growth—your fetus might measure up to 6.8 inches and weighs nearly 5 ounces.

Good reactions. "What are these new things my mouth and throat can do?" Your little one has been working on two basic reflexes for a few weeks: sucking and swallowing. By the time your baby is born, she'll have nearly all the reflexes that you do, ones that will help her survive and learn about the world.

Girl or boy? If you're going to have a girl, a special set of tissues is developing into the uterus and vagina. If a boy is in your future, these same tissues are taking another path: The penis has formed and the prostate has begun to take shape. The testosterone-secreting cells, which formed a month ago, are key in orchestrating these developments.

Your Pregnancy

Dress S.O.S. Are you still squeezing into your pre-pregnancy clothes? It's time to invest in some outfits that fit you well. You may be pleasantly surprised at the selection and high quality of today's maternity clothes. Gone are the tent-like muumuus and cutesy pastels; no matter what your size or style, you're sure to find something that suits you. If you're on a budget, you can find some good deals at used clothing stores or borrow from family or friends. Wearing maternity clothing may be your first public announcement that you're pregnant, so enjoy the attention you're likely to get!

A word about amnio. If your doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife has identified a risk factor that requires you to undergo amniocentesis, you'll probably have it soon—most doctors perform the test before the 18th week of pregnancy. Amnio is the single most accurate method of identifying many birth defects, but it's not a test that every expectant mom should have. It is most commonly offered to pregnant women over the age of 35, since they're at a higher risk for having a baby with a genetic disorder like Down's Syndrome. It may also be a logical next step if your AFP test came back positive. But amniocentesis is not without risk, so it's important to be well informed. Speak to your provider about the pros and cons.

A pain in the ...No one likes to talk about it, but nearly half of all pregnant women get hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum—veins that have become over-dilated due to increased blood volume and flow in the pelvic area. Constipation and straining during a bowel movement may also bring on hemorrhoids. If you're prone to varicose veins, or if you've had hemorrhoids during a previous pregnancy, you're more likely to get them now. The best prevention strategy? Try to avoid constipation by eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly.

From the experts. "Once you become pregnant, your feelings may be different than you expected," says Elaine Zwelling, R.N., Ph.D. "Women who anticipated feeling fearful may be surprisingly at ease. Those who thought they were ready may suddenly feel unsure." Read more about the emotions of pregnancy by clicking here.


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