Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!

What Does the Baby Look Like in the Womb at 17 Weeks Pregnant?

author image Sharon Perkins
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.
What Does the Baby Look Like in the Womb at 17 Weeks Pregnant?
The fetus is still developing at 17 weeks.

At 17 weeks, a pregnancy is in its second trimester; most fetal organs and structures are present and the fetus looks very much like a miniature baby. But there’s still plenty of growth and refinement to take place before a fetus is ready to be born. At this stage of pregnancy, a fetus can’t yet survive outside the womb.

Video of the Day


When the embryo first implants in the womb around the third week of pregnancy, it resembles a ball of cells. But within that ball are three layers that will grow into different parts of the fetus: the ectoderm, or outside layer; the mesoderm, or middle layer and the endoderm, or outside layer. All the genetic material to create the fetus at 17 weeks are already present.


The fetus at 17 weeks measures around 9 inches long, 5 inches from crown to rump and weighs about 5 ounces. While this may not seem like much, it’s a far cry from the embryo that was the size of a pinpoint just 13 weeks before.

External Appearance

In many ways, the 17-week fetus looks quite complete. Arms, legs, fingers and toes are developed. The eyes have developed to the point where the retina is sensitive to light. But the eyelids are still sealed and will be until around the 22nd week. The skin is very thin, and blood vessels are visible beneath the surface; the hair patterns have formed. The fetus can grimace, frown and squint. He moves freely and often, although the motions still can’t be felt. The ears move away from the head and are starting to hear. The sex of the fetus can be distinguished.

Internal Development

By 17 weeks, the fetal heart is formed and is pumping up to 25 quarts of blood a day since week 16, the American Pregnancy Association states. Meconium, the first stool, has begun to form in the intestines. Fat begins to accumulate under the skin during the 17th week. Sucking and swallowing skills are put to the test recycling amniotic fluid. Bone is starting to form in place of cartilage.


Although the major organs are in place and the fetus appears developed, she is not yet viable outside the womb. The lungs are not yet able to exchange gases, but the bronchioles, the small airways, are developing as the lungs enter the canalicular stage during the 17th week, Brown University states.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media