During the second trimester of pregnancy, expectant mothers can rarely feel significant, regular fetal movement. Although unborn babies begin movement during the first trimester, pregnant women generally begin feeling their babies' kicks and tumbles some time between the 18th and 21st week of pregnancy. If you are 17 weeks pregnant and do not feel much movement, it is unlikely that there is any cause for concern.
The first perceived movements of an unborn baby comprise a milestone known as "quickening." Before the advent of ultrasound monitoring, quickening was the first sign that a fetus was alive and thriving. According to the "Essentials of Neonatal Medicine" by Malcolm I. Levene et al., women generally feel the baby's quickening at around the 20th week of pregnancy. Multiparous women--those who have been pregnant in the past--are more sensitive to these sensations and feel the first fetal movements at or around the 18th week of gestation.
The American Pregnancy Association reports that quickening can occur as early as the 13th week of pregnancy or as late as the 25th week, while still remaining within the normal range. As such, it is entirely normal for a 17-week-pregnant woman to feel little or no fetal movement. The expectant mother does not need to be concerned about her unborn child's health unless she continues to perceive little or no fetal movement after the 25th week of gestation.
Heidi Murkoff, author of the "What to Expect" series of books, writes "Don't panic if you go several hours—or even a day or two—without noticing any movement. At this stage and with your baby still quite tiny, it's normal not to feel regular movement." Seventeen weeks into a pregnancy, an unborn baby is still far too small to generate the powerful, regular, palpable kicks seen later in pregnancy. Any feelings of movement during the 17th week are a sign that the baby is doing well. If several hours, or even days, pass between the earliest perceived movements, there is generally no cause for concern.
The American Pregnancy Association advises women to begin charting fetal movements during the 28th week of pregnancy. After this point, a sudden decrease in perceived kicks might signal a problem. Although a woman will rarely feel regular kicks during the 17th week, there may be a cause for concern if she feels very regular movement followed by little or none. Call your obstetrician or midwife any time you feel concerned about your unborn baby's health and well-being. An expert evaluation can help to provide reassurance.