Welcome to Week 17
Your Baby: More Than Meets the Eye
If you saw an ultrasound of your fetus right now, you'd spot a number of recognizable features. Your baby-to-be has eyes, a nose, and well-developed limbs. You may even be able to see hair on his scalp. He's mastered a few simple reflexes, too -- sucking, swallowing, and blinking. Head to rump, the fetus measures 5 inches (12.7 cm) long and weighs approximately 6 ounces (170 g). Underneath the baby's skin, fat is forming. By the end of your pregnancy, this fat will account for 2% to 6% of the baby's weight and help maintain his body temperature at birth. At this age, your baby's hearing is pretty sharp. He can make out your conversations and may even be startled by loud noises. Whether you feel it or not, your baby is becoming very active, moving his head, arms, and legs.
Your Body: What to Do About the Family Feline
If you're a cat owner or lover, you may be worried about yet another pregnancy-related malady called toxoplasmosis. Carried by cats (and growing in feces in the litter box), the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis may also be present in raw meat, soil, and on the outside of raw vegetables. Though it's rare, your baby could be harmed if you contract the infection for the first time during pregnancy.
Many people have been exposed to toxoplasmosis. Therefore, they have produced antibodies that make them immune to it. However, if you don't know if you are immune and are pregnant, you should avoid eating meats that are not cooked all the way through. Likewise, if you have cats, it is best to take precaution to avoid exposure. If you work in the garden, you should wear gardening or rubber gloves. Have someone else take care of the litter box during your pregnancy if possible. If your cat goes outside, it is best to refrain from holding it close to your face, or from letting it spend time on your bed linens.
It is a good idea during your pregnancy to wash your hands often (especially if you have been around cats or uncooked meat).
On A Different Note: Ready, Set, Action
Most pregnant women are utterly amazed at the flurry of activity going on inside their belly starting about now!
Now that you're safely in the second trimester, it's time to start thinking about names. Try mulling over a new one every week (or every day if you're really rolling). If you don't know your baby's sex and don't intend to find out, have a few of each ready. One seasoned mom recommends narrowing it down to two boys' and two girls' names a month before your due date. That way, you can quickly choose the one that best suits your new baby on the big day.
Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.