8 weeks pregnant
Week eight of pregnancy marks some big milestones – it’s the last week of your baby being an ‘embryo’, and you’re already more than halfway through trimester one.
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.
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 a scan at eight weeks and see a foetal heartbeat will take that baby home at the end of their pregnancy.
What size is the 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 eight weeks pregnant?
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.
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 to take 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.
Pregnancy symptoms in week eight
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 big time to accommodate its growth. However, if the pain is 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
Pregnancy 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 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.
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.