Pregnancy and baby

You and your baby at 17-20 weeks pregnant

Your baby's development

By the time you're 17 weeks pregnant, your baby is growing quickly, and now weighs around 150g. The body grows bigger, so that the head and body are more in proportion.

The face begins to look much more human, and eyebrows and eyelashes are beginning to grow. Your baby's eyes can move now, although the eyelids are still shut, and the mouth can open and close.

The lines on the skin of the fingers are now formed, so the baby already has his or her own individual fingerprints. Fingernails and toenails are growing and the baby has a firm hand grip.

The baby moves around quite a bit, and may respond to loud noises from the outside world, such as music. You may not feel these movements yet, especially if this is your first pregnancy. If you do, they'll probably feel like a soft fluttering or rolling sensation.

Your baby is putting on a bit of weight, but still doesn't have much fat, so if you could see your baby now it would look a bit wrinkled, although it will continue to put on weight for the rest of the pregnancy and will "fill out" by the last few weeks before birth.

By 20 weeks, your baby's skin is covered in a white, greasy substance called vernix. It's thought that this helps to protect the skin during the many weeks in the amniotic fluid.

Your body halfway through pregnancy

At 20 weeks pregnant, you're halfway through your pregnancy. You will probably feel your baby move for the first time when you're around 17 or 18 weeks pregnant. Most first-time mums notice the first movements when they are between 18 and 20 weeks pregnant. At first, you feel a fluttering or bubbling, or a very slight shifting movement, maybe a bit like indigestion. Later on, you can’t mistake the movements and you can even see the baby kicking about. Often, you can guess which bump is a hand or a foot.

You may develop a dark line down the middle of your tummy and chest. This is normal skin pigmentation, as your tummy expands to accommodate your growing bump. Normal hair loss slows down, so your hair may look thicker and shinier.

You’ll be offered an anomaly scan when you are 18 to 20 weeks pregnant – this is to check for abnormalities in the baby. Your doctor or midwife can give you information about this and answer any questions. Read more about screening for foetal abnormality.

Common minor problems can include tiredness and lack of sleep. Sleeplessness is common, but there is plenty you can do to help yourself sleep, including using pillows to support your growing bump. Some women also get headaches. Headaches in pregnancy are common, but if they’re severe they could be a sign of something serious.

Tips for mid-pregnancy

Keeping active

Exercise in pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Find out what's safe and when you should take care.

Having a healthy diet 

Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow, and will keep you fit and well. 

Ultrasound scans

You'll be offered ultrasound scans in pregnancy, including the anomaly scan between 18 weeks and 21 weeks and six days.

Warning signs to look out for

Vaginal bleeding

Bleeding from the vagina may be a sign of serious problems, so seek help.

Severe itching

Severe itching could be a sign of the rare liver disorder obstetric cholestasis.

When pregnancy goes wrong

If you lose your baby, it's very important that you have all the support you need. Support is available from your care team and other organisations. Find out more about miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth.

You can save a to-do list online to keep track of all the essentials for your pregnancy.

Pregnancy week by week

Find out what's happening to you and your baby at:

0-8 weeks pregnant

9, 10, 11, 12 weeks pregnant

13, 14, 15, 16 weeks pregnant

21, 22, 23, 24 weeks pregnant

25, 26, 27, 28 weeks pregnant

29, 30, 31, 32 weeks pregnant

33, 34, 35, 36 weeks pregnant

37, 38, 39, 40 weeks pregnant

Over 40 weeks pregnant


Page last reviewed: 10/02/2015

Next review due: 10/02/2017


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 171 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 9 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mtb2605 said on 23 December 2013

I am 18 years old and currently 18 weeks pregnant with my first child and I don't find this information anything but informative. During my pregnancy I have been nothing but worried about something going wrong and having the signs to look out for really puts my mind at rest especially as I have not experienced any of them. I think that 'Llcchhh' and 'ajoihn73' and anyone else who has the same opinion as these people really need to stop being deluded. Not every pregnancy is perfect or goes how you would like to hope and not every symptom there necessarily means miscarriage, it's just a guideline of when to phone the doctor or midwife. I find it absolutely ridiculous how one of them can say it's 'distressing' to know that in worst case scenario there is support there waiting for them. I totally agree with "Blunt1983" in saying they should leave the internet, books etc well alone. What do you expect to find on a website telling you the different stages of pregnancy? I feel nothing but sympathy for people who have gone through a miscarriage or complications before and after birth but surely you would rather the information was there for what to look out for and ways of dealing with it than not at all?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

MissLondon said on 23 August 2013

Found the information very straight forward and informative. I would think that we would apperecite ALL the information we could get so we are best prepared for whatever happens.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Blunt1983 said on 15 August 2013

Couldn't agree more with FredBob! Get a grip people. Having had a miscarriage myself i did not find it offensive at all. I think the people it offended are maybe a bit too emotional at the minute. And before someone comments about my comments i am pregnant myself and things can go wrong. As sad as it is. . Life happens or in some sad cases they don't . There is normally more to it than that. Not that its not meant to be. Id rather be prepared for all of the good and bad. I just think some folk are naive or want to bury there heads in the sand. Its not the Victorian days! If you don't want to know about things going wrong in pregnancy then i suggest you leave the internet,books,doctors,midwifes etc well alone.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

FredBob said on 27 March 2013

I think you people who are "horrified" and "outraged" by the site mentioning the possibility of something going wrong need to grow up. 17 babies a day are stillborn, born fatally prematurely or get into some other trouble at any stage of pregnancy and pretending it doesn't happen doesn't make the figures any better. If I'd have found information and warning signs more easily then maybe my son would be here now. It's people like you who demand the subject remain taboo and want to ignore the reality and risk that endanger the women who do want the knowledge by making sites remove it so as not to "offend" you poor souls.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Tigger007 said on 25 January 2013

I am 17 weeks pregnant & it's my first I want to say how wonderful this page is. I appreciate all the information I can & in no way found it scary, just informative. I have a friend who used this website as a bible during her 11 pregnancies 8 of which unfortunately she miscarried, with all the support from the NHS & website she has a wonderful family.

Thank you

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Queridalouise said on 27 July 2012

I dont think this information is offensive at all. I had a bleed at 7 weeks, i had only just discovered i was pregnant and panciked. i later learned through NHS website that bleeding is normal, other sites i read suggested eptopic pregnancy as the only reason.
I am 19 weeks with my third child but my youngest is 10. Things have changed so much and I want to be aware of the issues i may face and warning signs.
Being a mum means being responsible and looking for signs that things are going wrong. Ignorance is not bliss. I also lost a baby, it was awful, but made me all the more determined to be aware of signs and make sure my baby is safe.
Thank you for the info, and my midwife was most impressed with my NHS website birthplan!!

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Susie said on 26 June 2012

Hi Llcchhh and ajoihn73, thanks for your comments, and congratulations on your pregnancies.

I'm sorry you were shocked by this page. I've added some more links under the 'things to think about' section, such as healthy eating - thank you for the suggestion. I've also made the heading 'warning signs to look out for' clearer.

We didn't mean to be insensitive on this page but it's important that we include information for women who may be worried about symptoms. The words 'when pregnancy goes wrong' link to another page with more information about sources of support.

Susie at NHS Choices

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

ajoihn73 said on 12 June 2012

Hi,im also 19 weeks and with 2 miscarriages previously i am disgusted by this title,im am constantly worrying about my growing baby at the best of times..i just think a little care and thought should have gone into this before publishing its contents

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Llcchhh said on 09 June 2012

I am 19 weeks, and have to say that I am pretty shocked and horrified by this page. Things to think about at this stage of my pregnancy are: Bleeding iching and the death of my baby in the womb? This is my first pregnancy, and I am sure I am not alone in the worrying often about how my baby is doing, whether it is heathy and that I am doing the right thing, eating healthily, excercising etc- and the scans seem a lifetime apart. I really don't think that this is at all helpful. I understand that you need to warn us and pointing out the signs we need to look for, but having a title 'when pregnancy goes wrong' with no more information than having support around me is incredibly distressing.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Image alt text

Get pregnancy and baby emails

Sign up for week-by-week emails about your pregnancy and baby, with advice from experts, mums and dads

Services near you