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Pregnancy Week By Week: Week 17

11/02/2013 18:26 | Updated 22 May 2015
Pregnancy week by week: Week 17Rex Features

Welcome to week 17

At this stage of pregnancy you might start to experience some unwanted aches and pains and other pregnancy related ailments.

Inside story

Your baby will have sprung in length to between 11 and 12cm – that's around four-and-a-half inches! They'll also have doubled in weight in a fortnight, tipping the scales at around 100g (four ounces). Your baby's job now is to lay down fat stores to fill out his rather baggy skin and help him to regulate his temperature. The cartilage that forms the skeleton is transforming into hard bone and hearing continues to develop.

On the outside

You might have noticed your bump taking on a rugby ball shape lately, although most of its prominence will be below your belly button, in your pelvis. Some mums-to-be show more than others; if you're sporting a noticeable bump, show it off with pride and take no notice of people who will undoubtedly ask 'Are you sure you're not having twins?'. If, on the other hand, you're not showing yet, that's nothing to worry about either.

Things to think about

Here's a rundown of some of the niggles that plague pregnant ladies, plus how you can help yourself.

• 'Round ligament' pain: This can happen as your uterus expands, and you might feel it in your sides as a sort of stretching pain if you bend or reach up suddenly. Unless it's severe or continuous, there's probably nothing at all to worry about, but if it does really bother, get it checked out by your GP or obstetrician.

• Thrush: It's an embarrassing and aggravating condition even when you're not pregnant, but it's downright miserable when you are. In pregnancy it's caused by an overgrowth of the normal fungus that's always present in your vagina. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you're suffering: there are some pessary treatments that are compatible with pregnancy. Don't just buy over-the-counter cream, though, as most treatments for thrush are not suitable for use in pregnancy.

'Oedema': This time we hear you cry 'What's that!?'. Put simply, it means swelling due to fluid retention, and it affects many pregnant women. You might notice your hands and fingers, wrists, ankles and face becoming a bit puffy. This is all normal to a degree, but if the swelling never gets any better - even after resting with your legs higher than your hips - or if it gets worse or is accompanied by dizziness, visual disturbances and/or headache, get medical help right away as it could be the beginnings of pre-eclampsia, a potentially harmful condition of pregnancy.

• Headaches: Although lots of migraine sufferers report a dramatic improvement in pregnancy and women who suffer from normal headaches often find that they disappear during the middle trimester, a few unlucky girls continue to get headaches throughout pregnancy. It's thought that hormones are the culprits. Talk to your GP or midwife and check whether you are safe to take paracetamol.

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