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17 WEEKS, 1 DAY

160 days to go...

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Your baby today

Your baby's jaw continues to grow throughout the pregnancy, but at this time it can still appear to be quite short. The early tooth buds are hardening within both jaws and, just as with the other bones, calcium is being laid down to strengthen their structure.

Around this time, you may become aware of your baby moving, although for some women first movements are felt much later.

Although your baby is very active, she's not big enough for you to feel any but the strongest kicks on the walls of your uterus. "Quickening" is the term used to describe these first movements, which feel like tiny flutterings or bubbles in your lower abdomen. You may not notice them or not realize that they are the baby at first, since they feel similar to having gas.

If you've been pregnant before, you will be more familiar with the sensation and able to recognize it. First-time moms generally don't feel movements until a bit later, at about 18 to 20 weeks (see You are 19 Weeks and 3 Days), so don't worry if you haven't felt anything yet. The flutterings become more persistent and definite over time, and there will eventually be recognizable kicks and nudges.

Once you can feel the activity, you will become very conscious of them and may become aware of a pattern to them.

Focus On... Dads

Being patient

It will be exciting when your partner tells you she can feel the baby move and a great milestone of the pregnancy, but when you touch your partner's belly, you won't feel anything at all. Just be a little patient since there will be plenty of opportunities later on in the pregnancy to feel the movements. Meanwhile, keep talking to your baby-she can hear you!

As A Matter Of Fact

Babies are rocked to sleep by their mother's movements.

This is why you're less likely to feel your baby move when you're active. You're also likely to be distracted yourself and miss some movement.

At around this time, you may begin to feel some slight sensations when your baby moves around.

The Lowdown

That funny feeling

Was it gas, or did your baby move?

The first time you notice your baby moving marks the start of a new chapter in the bonding process, and it seems it has always been the case, even in ancient times.

In many cultures, until the advent of pregnancy tests, "quickening" was the first conclusive evidence of pregnancy, and was viewed as the point at which human life began.

According to ancient Egyptian, Greek, American, and Indian beliefs, the first movement marked the moment when the soul entered the fetus. Aboriginals regard the location where the first quickening is felt as highly significant for the baby.

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Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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