Your Pregnancy: Week 17
If you and your practitioner decided you’re a candidate for amniocentesis (possibly from a first-trimester screening, genetic history, age, or anxiety), this is around the time to do so. This safe (yet invasive, so it does come with risks) test checks fetal cells from your amniotic fluid for a variety of chromosomal abnormalities and genetic conditions. It’s no longer routinely recommended for women over the age of 37 to have this invasive procedure, so discuss the pros and cons with your practitioner before making your decision.
If you decide to go ahead with it, the whole test takes no more than a few minutes. First, a technician will perform an ultrasound to locate the baby’s position, ensuring that the technician stays well clear of your baby as he or she uses a needle to extract a small amount of amniotic fluid. After the fluid is sent to a lab, you should have your results within two weeks. A negative result excludes only the conditions tested, not all fetal abnormalities.
If necessary, swap your desk chair for a more supportive one with a straight back and firm cushion. Also grab a footstool to elevate your legs and keep your pelvis in line. (Trust us, your back will thank you.)
Practice pelvic tilts during your work out. These exercises can strengthen your abdominal muscles (since sit-ups and crunches are no-no’s) and ease back pain.
Sign up for childbirth and prenatal breastfeeding classes, as spots can fill up quickly. You might also want to check out infant CPR, newborn-care and big-sibling classes. Try and find sessions that are completed by week 35 or 36.
While classes can be beneficial, don’t rely on them as your sole source of information. Pick up a guide on labor (we like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin) to mentally prepare yourself for the task ahead. Being well informed will help ease tension and fear, both of which make labor pains more intense.
By this week, your baby is about the size of your palm. His/her eyes are completely forward-facing, sweat glands are starting to develop, and fat is forming. Your baby’s body is also becoming more proportional as the trunk and limbs catch up to the formerly alien-like head.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
It has never been more complicated than it is now to discuss all of the testing options that couples have to choose from. My counseling has to take into consideration the age-related risks, the testing risks, the limitations of screening and the wide range of patients’ religious and ethical beliefs. I don’t have to know if a patient supports abortion to be able to discuss the role of testing as it simply offers information. The individual patient will determine how that information will be interpreted and used.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: What Kind of Parent Will I Be?
Most people worry about what kind of parent they might be; this is a normal part of adjusting to your new role and working out what you want for your child. Sometimes fears are inspired by memories from childhood. Will I be overbearing or put too much pressure on my kid? Will I make him a neurotic mess? How will I succeed where my parents failed or manage to succeed like they did? In addition to the inner voices, there are all the other voices in the world. When a friend says, “I can’t imagine you as a mother!” it may be purely a reflection of that person’s limited imagination. But it can feel like a confirmation of your own deep-seated fears. Even comments like “You’ll make a great mom!” can make an expectant mother cringe with anxiety. ( “What if I’m not? What does that even mean? I better live up to it!”)
Our culture has well-defined ideas about motherhood and fatherhood. And you may be bringing some ideals of your own to the parenting party. You may see yourself as the laid-back mom, the rock-n-roll mom, or the jet-set career mom; you might want to be an eco-anarchist tree house dad or a super-chill, money-is-not-important dad. You may both want to be the kind of eternally glamorous parents who simply do not change after the baby’s arrival. Or energetic, youthful parents who easily connect with their teens. The trouble, as usual, is where fantasy meets reality. Chill Dad may start to think that being broke is not that chill. Rock Mom may find that she’s not as comfy as she thought with strapping her baby into the rickety tour van. The glamour parents may find that they actually prefer staying home in spit-stained sweatpants. The parents we become may bear zero resemblance to the parents we imagined we’d be.
These fantasies may come from real values or important priorities; they can also come from insecurity or resistance to growth and change. Raising kids is hard enough without worrying about fitting into a fantasy. In order to inhabit our new parental roles, the ghosts of the perfect (or perfectly imperfect) mommy and daddy need to be exorcised. Each time an image of what you should be feeling comes into conflict with what you are feeling, step back and try to recognize whether you’re grappling with the problem at hand or just some mythological idea of what a parent should be.
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.