You are 17 Weeks and 4 Days 157 days to go…

Although changes are taking place, your baby’s lungs are still fairly immature and won’t be fully developed until week 35.

Your baby today

The skin of your baby is extremely soft and smooth. The soles of the feet and toes are shown in this image and it is clear they are free from wrinkles. During the next week evidence of fingerprint and toeprint patterns will appear on the skin.

Your baby’s complex lung development is continuing. To picture their growth and development, imagine the whole lungs as a tree: the trunk has developed (the trachea or windpipe), and this has branched into smaller and medium-sized branches (bronchi), but the twigs (bronchioles) holding the leaves (alveoli) have not yet formed. It is the alveoli that have walls so thin that they allow oxygen to be absorbed from the air in them and carbon dioxide to leave via the bloodstream.

From now until 28 weeks the “twigs” are forming that will hold the alveoli that will become filled with air after birth. These “twigs” will have a limited ability to transfer gases but the lungs will not be fully effective until the alveoli develop. The growth of the blood vessels that support the lungs closely matches the growth of the lungs themselves. These blood vessels will be essential for the transfer of oxygen after your baby is born.

After birth, all the blood that is leaving the right side of the heart will enter the lung circulation, but before birth, with the lungs filled with fluid and not used for breathing, only a small amount of blood (approximately 10–15 percent) is directed to them.

Stretching safely

Relaxin is one of the most important pregnancy-related hormones. As its name implies, relaxin relaxes the connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments in your body to allow the diaphragm to expand and create space for your baby to grow. It also loosens the ligaments and tendons enough to facilitate the opening of the birth canal for a vaginal delivery.

Relaxin affects most parts of your body and, as a result, your spine and pelvis will also feel less stable, so be aware of your posture and alignment when exercising.

Relaxin is also responsible for the relaxation of the circulatory system: the walls of the veins are relaxed, which sometimes results in varicose veins . Doing cardiovascular exercise will help increase blood flow and can reduce the occurrence of varicose veins.

Only stretch as far as is comfortable because during pregnancy you’re more vulnerable to damaging muscles and tendons.

  • When standing, always keep your hips in a neutral position. Don’t move your hips to one side.

  • Beware of hyperextending (arching) your lower back and rounding your shoulders.

  • Keep all your movements slow and controlled, and do not stretch beyond your comfort zone. The increased flexibility of your muscles and tendons could potentially result in overstretching during activities such as yoga or Pilates.

You are 17 Weeks and 5 Days 156 days to go…

As your belly begins to grow and is more obvious, your pregnancy will become the main focus of people’s attention.

Your baby today

This image shows how much less obvious the soft spot on the top has become by now. The fingers show up well here, and as your baby increases in size, it becomes easier and easier for ultrasound to show this level of detail.

Are you getting a little more attention than you would like? Once your belly becomes very obvious, you may begin to feel that it and you are public property. Fascinated by your ever-increasing abdomen, some friends and family, or even strangers, may want to see your belly, touch it, or even kiss it. This can feel very strange because, as a rule, people tend not to go around touching each other’s abdomens!

If you’re uncomfortable about being touched, then you could politely ask people not to touch the belly, or simply move away. There are, however, some advantages to having people notice that you are pregnant: your belly acts as a warning for people not to jostle you in crowds and people tend to give you a seat on public transportation. Another unwanted intrusion might be that people feel entitled to ask you intimate questions regarding your medical history and about the baby. This may make you uncomfortable, especially if you tend to be a private person. People you have never met before might comment on your figure, and discuss whether you’re having a girl or a boy.

Some pregnant women enjoy the attention, while others feel that people are intruding on a personal experience. If you feel uncomfortable, answer questions vaguely or try to change the subject; ask the person about themself instead. Another way of avoiding the unwanted attention is to wear loose clothing that makes your belly look less prominent and attractive to touch.

Be prepared for some people to look at, comment on, and want to feel your wonderful belly as it becomes more noticeable. If you’re a tactile person by nature, this attention can be easier to handle than if you’re not.

It’s not forbidden to eat salt while you’re pregnant.

It was once thought that salt increased swelling and the risk of high blood pressure. But your body needs salt to expand your volume of blood and body fluids. Use sea salt (it contains less sodium) and don’t have in excess of 0.25 oz (6 g) a day.

… Doctor
Q: I’m so itchy that I’m scratching to the point of bleeding. What can I do?
A: Most itching in pregnancy, especially on your belly, is due to stretching of the skin, hormonal changes, and heat. Applying moisturizing cream should help.

If you have significant itching, see your doctor to determine whether you have obstetric cholestasis, a serious but rare condition that affects the liver and occurs in about 1 percent of pregnancies.

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