Your 8 weeks pregnant belly
At eight weeks pregnant, your baby is still so tiny that you're unlikely to detect a bump. Some women find they just look a little bloated. Also, if this is your first pregnancy you might find that you don't show until a bit later, as the abdominal muscles are stronger than those of a woman who has been pregnant before.
While your pregnancy belly may not be in evidence yet, rest assured your uterus has already been busy expanding to double its normal size. Starting at around the size of an orange, pre-pregnancy, it's getting a head start on the exponential growth needed to house your developing baby over the coming months.
What size is your baby at eight weeks?
Your baby is around 2cm from crown to rump this week – about the size of a small raspberry. She is now growing at a rate of 1mm a day, amazing stuff.
How is your body changing at 8 weeks?
Your womb is already twice its normal size, and has been busy stretching and expanding ever since your new ‘womb-mate’ moved in, in readiness for her getting bigger. As this will mean your uterus is pressing on your bladder, you'll probably start to need a wee All. The Time. Best to resign yourself to this particular symptom as early as possible.
This is the time when, if you’re going to, you probably feel most rotten. Hormone levels are high as the placenta has not yet kicked in and taken over. If you’re sick and tired of feeling, well… sick and tired, take comfort from the fact that week eight marks a fifth of the way through pregnancy.
Your baby at 8 weeks
This is your baby’s last week as an embryo. At the end of this week she gets promoted to ‘*foetus*’. Presumably next week you will look back, misty-eyed on the halcyon days when she was a mere stripling of a zygote (and still had a tail, albeit an embryonic one).
To celebrate, she really steps up to the plate this week and will start developing a neck and straightening her back. And no wonder she’s such a clever clogs… At eight weeks her head is growing more at the back than the front because her brain is developing here. It’s already dividing into the two hemispheres and neural pathways are being built.
She’s just the size of a five pence piece but is incredibly busy this week:
- She's developing the first of the five senses – touch – and can respond to touch on her lips and cheeks.
- Although she can't yet see, the pigment that will determine eye colour is already developing.
- In her ears, the middle part that's in charge of balance is formed.
- Her legs and arms are getting longer and she has recognisable shoulders and elbows.
- The stomach is forming, beginning as just a bulge in the tube that will one day develop into her digestive system.
- She has little teeth buds, but her first teeth won't usually appear for four to six months after birth.
- Her heart is beating quickly. At 160 beats a minute, it's about twice the rate of an adult heartbeat.
The great news is that if you can see the foetal heart beat at eight weeks, your risk of miscarriage falls considerably; about 97% of women who have an 8-week scan and see a foetal heartbeat will take that baby home at the end of their pregnancy.
Pregnancy symptoms at 8 weeks
Here's the fun part. With hormone levels rising, here are some of the pregnancy symptoms you might notice this week:
It's the stuff of horror movies to see your mouth dripping with blood after brushing your teeth. But bleeding gums are common in pregnancy because your gums are softened by hormones and more susceptible to plaque.
Clean your teeth carefully with a small-headed, soft-bristled brush and floss gently. And if you have morning sickness and you vomit, rinse your mouth out with water to get rid of the acid.
You may start to get some twinges from your growing uterus stretching the ligaments that connect it to your abdominal wall. Your uterus should really be in your pelvis and everything has to stretch – in a big way – to accommodate its growth. You're likely to experience normal early pregnancy pains, but if they are severe, or you experience vaginal bleeding or dizziness alongside it, seek medical attention.
Now is a good time to get a pregnancy bra as the big breast surge is almost over – they grow most in the first trimester (until you produce milk when they grow more again). Advice was once that underwired bras are a no-no but the feeling is now that anything is ok as long as it is comfortable and not restrictive or digging into you.
Nausea and vomiting
Morning sickness, or at least some nausea, is almost universal. Women who don't get it may worry their pregnancy is less established but there's no evidence for this. They're just lucky. You may find you throw up without warning and that you feel sick any time of the day. The morning bit of morning sickness is a red herring – it can happen any time.
For 90% of women it gets better later in pregnancy. Until it does (usually by the 16th week, as it is linked to high levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin, which drops after 13 weeks) there is not much that really helps, but try to stay calm – your baby will get enough nutrients, she'll be fine. And it’s always worth giving any tips for coping with morning sickness a go.
Sensitivity to smells
Particularly fun when paired with morning sickness, you might find that your (now super sensitive) sense of smell starts to have a little fun with you. Thanks to raging pregnancy hormones, certain foods might suddenly smell completely unholy, perfume you never minded before could become totally offensive, and…actually none of us need the excuse of pregnancy to cast baleful glares at the co-worker who microwaves fish at lunchtime. The best you can do is try to avoid them, unfortunately – the smells and the co-workers.
Cravings and food aversions
You may find you have cravings – conventional ones like marmite (or other salty food) are more common than a desire for weird things like coal, which are known as ‘pica’. You may also go off favourite foods such as chocolate, or even lose your taste for alcohol or caffeine – probably for the best. Pregnancy can also sometimes give you an odd taste in the mouth (almost metallic) that can put you off food.
Things to think about during week eight of pregnancy
You may have your booking-in appointment around this time. Have a think in advance about any questions you may have or concerns you want to raise and make a note of them. It’s all too easy to forget in the flurry of blood tests and urine samples.
It’s never too early to start financial planning – a baby is one of the biggest costs you’ll ever have. Find out about what maternity pay and benefits you might be entitled to so you can begin to draw up a budget for your time off.