At this stage, all major organs, muscles, and nerves are beginning to function in your baby's body. In addition to this, important developments are taking place within the brain.
Ultrasound image of embryo at 8 weeks gestation.
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.
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 out of control 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.
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 altogether more serious. With an ectopic pregnancy there may be a sharper more 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 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 thought not to harm the baby.
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 day or night.
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.
If you are planning on having the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test, now is a good time to book. The Harmony and Panorama Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests offer a completely safe, accurate way to screen for many life-restricting conditions from just 9 weeks gestation.
We had received possible worrying news from our NHS anomaly scan, without much information provided or confirmation. I am so pleased that we came to The Birth Company for reassurance, as we are now extremely happy that everything is fine. Shahrzad was fantastic and went through the whole anomaly scan thoroughly, explaining everything and looking in detail at each area. Nothing was rushed and she took her time to make sure baby was in the correct position to get the best results. We can’t thank her and Dr Gibb enough for the confidence they have given us. Would highly recommend The Birth Company for all scans.
' Professional and reassuring 'Helen Campbell
The sonographer was ready as soon as I arrived, and she was extremely calming, personable and professional. The scan and blood test where efficient without feeling rushed and all very easy. These appointments can feel uneasy and make you feel anxious but I felt reassured and in professional hands the whole time
I saw Kate throughout my first pregnancy and am now doing so again with my second. She is absolutely amazing, she explains everything really clearly, and has answered all sorts of bizarre questions and worries I have had. On top of being clinically excellent she is also just the loveliest person and always a pleasure to see.Sarah Elliott
We had the harmony test with the Birth Company and had a reassurance scan with sonographer Kirsty McGarry who was absolutely lovely and really put our minds at rest. We had been scared by our NHS dating scan and left feeling like there was something wrong. We explained the situation and was treated very professionally and with good care. Also speedy appointments also as I had phone in the morning and got an appointment by afternoon. So thankful.Ashley and Tom
Really friendly, efficient service. Great experience overall. Had the Panorama. My appointment was with Kate who was absolutely fantastic. The results came really quickly. Have a comparison with private healthcare elsewhere and must say that The Birth Company was just how I would like to be treated when I pay for medical services - attentively, calmly, friendly, in a pleasant environment that doesn't look like hospital. Top marks!Anna
' Efficient, friendly and always on hand to provide last minute appointments 'Hannah Murphy
The Birth Company has been excellent, providing timely scans and blood tests during my IVF treatment abroad. Staff are always friendly and extremely efficient. I would highly recommend coming here.
' Professional and friendly 'Lyndsey Dilla
When I first contacted the Birth Company I spoke to Danielle. She was fantastic. She went above & beyond to put me at easy & make the journey from Kent as stress free as possible. Every staff member that myself and my husband have come into contact with have been approachable, professional and friendly. Kate scanned me the first time and put me completely at easy. Lisa on reception is professional and very approachable. Highly recommended
' Highly recommended 'Emelie
Donald was so lovely! I was so nervous as I have a bad history and he was super quick and confirmed my baby's heartbeat as quickly as he could. He spent time showing me the baby and the anatomy and it was the best money I have ever spent! The reception girls were lovely too - considering they deal with babies day in day out they were super excited for me! Thank you so much one and all! If only I lived in London and could have all my scans with you!
Great Portland Street