Week 8

How big is your baby?

Week eight of gestation sees your baby growing very fast. The bulk of his skeletal and vital organ development takes place in the first twelve weeks.

For now though, your baby has reached raspberry size at roughly 2/3 of an inch – that’s just over 1.5 cms.

How big is your baby?

Week eight of gestation sees your baby growing very fast. The bulk of his skeletal and vital organ development takes place in the first twelve weeks. For now though, your baby has reached raspberry size at roughly 2/3 of an inch – that’s just over 1.5 cms.

What does your baby look like?

He’s now lost his ‘tail’ of very early embryonic development and is looking more like a real baby. Exciting times! And his facial features are beginning to appear. Tiny thin eyelids are covering his eyes and if you looked very closely you would see the tip of his nose and the curve of his lip.

Changes in your body this week

The amount of amniotic fluid which cushions your baby is increasing and your uterus is the size of a grapefruit now. You may even notice a slight thickening of your waist. At 8 weeks, lots of women are still stuck in the throes of morning sickness. The hormones that are responsible for the growth of the placenta can also be to blame for the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy. NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines suggest that up to 75% of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. If this is you, bear in mind that symptoms should begin to clear up at around 12 weeks. And in the meantime? Just remember, you’re a strong mum-to-be: when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

How your baby is developing

He is growing at the rate of 1mm per day, all across his body. Though they’re still webbed, his fingers and toes are starting to separate.

His heart is beating at a rate of 160-180 bpm (double that of yours!) and he is starting to exhibit his first jerking, twitchy movements, though you won’t feel them for a good few weeks yet.

How your baby is developing

He is growing at the rate of 1mm per day, all across his body. Though they’re still webbed, his fingers and toes are starting to separate. His heart is beating at a rate of 160-180 bpm (double that of yours!) and he is starting to exhibit his first jerking, twitchy movements, though you won’t feel them for a good few weeks yet.

Health concerns

Many expectant mothers suffer from the dreaded morning sickness and worry about the quality and quantity of the nutrition getting through to the baby. The good news is that the growing embryo takes all of the nutrition he needs before any is allocated to the mother. The bad news is that this can leave you feeling weak and listless. In general, the rule of thumb is to eat anything you can tolerate if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Even if it doesn’t feel healthy – the important thing is to get something down, which stays down and if that’s ice-cream and chicken wings, well, that’s what it is!

In theory, of course, you should aim for a healthy, varied diet with plenty of wholegrains, nuts and seeds and water. Staying hydrated is essential. A dietary top tip is to replace vegetables with fruit if you can’t stomach the thought of broccoli and kale. Fruits have natural sugars as well, which will help to replenish flagging energy levels.

Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?

All pregnant women have niggling aches and pains, it’s simply part of the process of growing a baby inside you. However, there are some physical symptoms which should never be ignored:

  • Heavy bleeding of fresh, red blood. The chances are it could be nothing, but you should get it checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible and definitely the same day so you can access the help that you may need. A study published by NICE states: “A key component of care for women with pain and bleeding in early pregnancy is the provision of emotional and psychological support.”
  • Severe pain in your tummy, especially low down and especially if it feels one-sided. This can sometimes be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy (where fertilisation has taken place but the embryo is growing in the fallopian tube, not the uterus).
  • If you are vomiting constantly. Nausea and sickness are perfectly normal in pregnancy, but if you can’t keep fluids down then you may need medical attention to prevent dehydration and exhaustion.

Safety first

Some women don’t discover their pregnancy until a few weeks in. However, as soon as you get your positive test result, you need to be thinking carefully about potential hazards. One of these is coming into contact with cat faeces. NHS guidelines state:

“Cat litter and cat faeces can contain a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infection. Although it’s very rare, if you get toxoplasmosis for the first time when you’re pregnant or up to three months before you conceive, the infection can pass to and damage your unborn baby, as well as causing miscarriage or stillbirth.”

Practically speaking, this means that you shouldn’t empty the cat litter tray. The simple solution is to give cat litter duty to someone else, but if this isn’t a possibility for you, you must ensure that you wear thick gloves at all times whilst handling both old and new litter. If you are gardening you should also wear gloves and be careful to wash your hands because even if you don’t own a cat there is the possibility of neighbouring cats toileting in your garden. If you do accidentally touch cat faeces, you must wash your hands immediately in hot, soapy water. And if you have an older child who likes to visit farms then bear in mind that sheep and lambs can also carry toxoplasmosis.

Important issues this week

By week 8 of pregnancy, the process of ossification (hardening of the bones) has begun because your baby’s first joints have formed. In practical terms, this means that you should be upping your calcium intake through intake of dairy products such as milk, cheese and eggs in order to support healthy bone growth.

It’s also around week 8 that you will meet your midwife for the first time. There will be lots of things that she wants to go through with you, such as your health details, and those of the baby’s father, in case there are any potential complications. Additionally, you should also take this opportunity to ask any questions you might have, however trivial they may seem. Advice from a medical professional can really set your mind at rest.

Keeping fit, staying healthy

Lots of pregnant ladies feel unsure about maintaining or starting exercise whilst pregnant. If there are no complications present, then moderate exercise is always a good thing. The type of exercise you should aim for during pregnancy is something that doesn’t place too much of a strain on your body, something that raises your heart rate to burn calories and keep your weight stable and also keeps your joints and muscles supple and flexible.

In the short term, exercise can be good for aiding your sleep – keeping you well rested so that your body is in peak condition to do its mammoth task of growing a new person.

Looking forward; planning ahead

At this stage of pregnancy there will be lots of uncertainty and unknowns. Some of these won’t be relevant for a few weeks/months yet, but it might help to start considering what your options are during pregnancy and birth. This can be as simple as creating a list of items you’ll need for baby, or as complex as planning ahead to store cells from the umbilical cord after birth for medical reasons.

Reading widely and talking to others can give you valuable perspective from those who have already been through pregnancy. Being aware of your choices will help you to feel relaxed when the time comes to implement them.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.
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