Week 8 is a fabulous time to be pregnant assuming everything goes to plan. Some people even report the beginnings of a bump although this is quite rare. It doesn’t seem long before you hit that twelve week benchmark now although believe us, the time usually goes quite slow!
In week 8 the embryo measures approximately 1.5cm. The growth spurt that began in week 7 continues, with the baby growing approximately 1mm every day. At this stage, all major organs, muscles, and nerves are beginning to function. In addition to this, important developments are taking place within the brain. Primitive connections are forming between nerve cells in the brain, creating the first neural pathways. It is now possible to measure brain waves. The heartbeat is also now detectable on a scan. Your baby is now making spontaneous movements.
The limb buds are growing rapidly and now resemble arms and legs. The arms now also have a functional wrist joint, and the digits of the hands and feet are beginning to separate and become less ‘webbed’ in appearance. If that isn’t enough for your busy baby, facial features such a lips and nose are continuing to form, taste buds are also developing on the tongue and the eyes are continuing to develop beneath their newly-formed lids.
Your Body and Symptoms
As mentioned some people think they are seeing the beginnings of a baby bump in week 8. It’s true that your body will be undergoing change. You may find that you are beginning to gain weight, particularly around your waist. This is to be expected and, as long as weight-gain is not too fast you shouldn’t be concerned. Your breasts may be bigger and heavier and you may find you prefer a comfortable sports bra to an underwired one.
Feelings of fatigue are likely to continue, or begin during this time. It is important to rest as much as you need. It is also important that you ask for help from your partner, family or friends if you need it. You may also be suffering from queasiness and/or sickness – both of which are completely normal.It may help to eat little and often, splitting your daily intake of food into 6 smaller meals. This can also help to offer relief from any pregnancy related indigestion that you may be experiencing.
If you feel as though vomiting is more than normal and you don’t feel like you are able to keep fluids down speak to your midwife. Occasionally, pregnant women can suffer from constant sickness that leaves them dehydrated and needing IV fluids, this is known as hyperemesis gravidarum. The most documented case of this, is the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancies. There are many approaches using traditional and complementary medicines to the problem of hyperemesis gravidarum. Basing your diet on simple bland food, such as porridge, yoghurt and clear soup, is helpful, although hyperemesis gravidarum is very difficult to treat.
Digestive problems such as flatulence and constipation are also common during pregnancy. Increasing the fibre in your diet and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables may alleviate these symptoms.
High levels of oestrogen increases blood flow to your pelvic area during pregnancy. This can cause stimulation of mucus membranes, leading to leukorrhea – a thick, milky vaginal discharge. Leukorrhea helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the birth canal, preventing possible infection. It is both healthy and normal and is nothing to worry about.
Some women report having more frequent headaches during pregnancy. This is usually a result of fatigue or possibly a drop in blood sugar levels. Eating regularly, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting a lot of rest can help. If you are finding headaches a problem, you should consult your Doctor or midwife. You should exercise caution when taking any prescription or non-prescription drugs during pregnancy and always check with your pharmacist or Doctor before taking any medication.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
Bright red vaginal bleeding is common but not normal at this time. This is most often due to a slight threatened miscarriage which will settle but more uncommonly it can be due to an ectopic pregnancy which is more serious. With an ectopic pregnancy there may be a sharp severe pelvic pain which may cause nausea and vomiting. The lower tummy and pelvis may be very tender and painful. The risk of an ectopic pregnancy is low in women who have not had one before but much higher if they have had one before or if they have a history of pelvic infection. In these cases a medical assessment is urgent and imperative.
If you have bleeding in early pregnancy and you have associated severe abdominal pain you are at a high risk of miscarriage. In about 40% of cases there is shown to be a fetal abnormality incompatible with life. Unfortunately if a miscarriage has begun, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Nausea and vomiting can become more severe at this time. Uncommonly this may require medical assessment and hospital admission for rehydration. An antiemetic such as Cyclizine can be helpful and is not to harmful to the baby.
Your Care on the NHS
If you aren’t experiencing any problems with the pregnancy it’s unlikely you’ll be seen on the NHS at this stage. If you do have pain, especially sharp pain or any bleeding, many NHS hospitals now have an early pregnancy assessment unit where an assessment can be made. A trans vaginal scan and a blood HCG test will be performed to assist in diagnosis and exclude ectopic pregnancy. If you feel severe pain or collapse you must go to the nearest NHS Accident and Emergency Unit immediately.
If nausea and vomiting is very severe (hyperemesis gravidarum) then you may need to visit hospital for rehydration while your GP may prescribe you some safe drugs to use in pregnancy.
If you have no complaints it is unlikely you will be seen by the NHS at this stage.
Private Care Available
In a private clinic you will be offered an ultrasound to see your embryo, you can even see the heartbeat at this stage. You’ll also have detailed consultations to discuss any concerns you have and to discuss your health. The ultrasound scan can determine your due date more accurately and you may just be able to make out a shape that looks a lot like a bean.
You can arrange an appointment with a private midwife, the same day if needed.
Non-Invasive Prenatal Test
If you are planning on having the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test, now is a good time to book. The TDL VeriSeq v2 by Illumina, SAFE and Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests offer a completely safe, accurate way to screen for many conditions from just 10 weeks of pregnancy.
For More information
Non-Invasive Prenatal Test
At this gestation you are able to book the following scans
Early Pregnancy Scan 7-11wks