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8 weeks pregnant


foetus at 8 weeks pregnantYour baby at 8 weeks

Your baby will soon become a foetus and to celebrate will start developing a neck and straightening her back. 

At 8 weeks her head is growing more at the back than front because her brain is developing here. It is already dividing into the two hemispheres. She is tiny - the size of a little finger nail - but incredibly busy:

  • Developing her first sense - touch. This week she can respond to the touch on her lips and cheeks.
  • In her little ear, the middle part that's in charge of balance is formed.
  • Her legs are getting longer and she has recognisable shoulders and elbows. The hands are looking less webbed and more like they've got fingers.
  • She's developing her spinal cord and the back bones that support it.
  • Her stomach is forming, firstly as a bulge in the tube that will develop into her digestive system. Her intestines are growing, too.
  • 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 miscarrying falls considerably; about 97% of women whose babies have a foetal heart beat will take that baby home at the end of their pregnancy.  

Your body at 8 weeks pregnant

  • Bleeding gums It's the stuff of horror movies to see your mouth dripping with blood after brushing your teeth. But pregnancy will do that for you because your gums are softened by pregnancy hormones and more susceptible to plaque. The good news is that dental care is free in pregnancy, the bad news is that if you don't use it you might lose some teeth. Clean your teeth carefully with a small-headed, soft-bristled brush. Floss your teeth gently. Avoid sugar, including in drinks. And if you have morning sickness and you vomit, rinse your mouth out with water to get rid of the acid.
  • Abdominal pain 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 big time to accommodate its growth. If you have severe pain or bleeding you should not assume it's ligament pain and should see your doctor.
  • Your breasts They will be sore, fuller, feel a bit tingly and be darker in the areola, the bit around the nipple. Little glands called Montgomery's tubercles will appear on the areolas in readiness to make the lubricating fluid that will protect your nipples when you breastfeed. 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). Do not get underwired bras as they dig in.
  • 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 your 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 drop after 13 weeks) there is nothing that really helps, but try to stay calm - your baby will get enough nutrients, she'll be fine. Graze constantly - eat bland foods, little and often. Stay busy because if you think about feeling sick then you usually do. You can try ginger biscuits, elderflower cordial and eating biscuits before you get out of bed. Avoid fatty foods as they stay in your stomach longer. This is because progesterone acts on the muscles in your digestive tract to slow them down. You can try acupuncture wrist bands with pressure points to relieve sickness.

Hyperemesis is a condition in which women have excessive vomiting and may need to go into hospital, but this only affects 1 in 200 to 1 in 500 women.

  • Cravings  You may find you have cravings - conventional ones like marmite (or other salty food) are more common than a desire for coal. You may go off favourite foods such as chocolate, or even lose your taste for alcohol or caffeine. Pregnancy can sometimes give you an odd taste in the mouth (almost metallic) that can put you off food.



Pregnancy Encyclopedia book coverIllustrations taken from The Pregnancy Encyclopedia, £25, published by DK.

Disclaimer: The information in the pregnancy calendar is for general information and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or antenatal team. Not all babies develop at the same time and in the same way, so this week-by-week guide may not always match your own experience. If you have any worries, consult your antenatal team or GP.

Last updated: 4 months ago