Morning sickness, fatigue, hormones – just the time to meet the midwife….
By the time you reach week 8, your pregnancy is becoming more firmly established. The risk of miscarriage drops further each week, your placenta is developing well and you might just be beginning to feel a little more like you’re on your way towards the infamous ‘glow’ of pregnancy.
However, for some mums, the sickness and tiredness continue unabated. The good news is that around about week 8 you will have your first appointment with your midwife, known as the ‘booking-in’ appointment. This will be a good chance to ask advice from, or share worries with, someone whose career role is to look after mums and babies. Here, one mother shares with us her experience of week 8 of pregnancy.
The week I met my midwife – One mum’s perspective
Although I knew that my pregnancy was becoming more viable with each day that passed, I have to be honest and say that week 8 of my pregnancy was not one of my favourite times. My baby was measuring approximately the size of a grape, however the size of her impact on my body was more like carrying several large melons up a hill.
All of the excitement of finding out that I was pregnant had gone and instead I had constant nausea, exhaustion and just going through the motions of the day was very hard. I found commuting particularly difficult because the traffic fumes and street smells turned my stomach instantly. I had to keep a lavender scented handkerchief in my pocket to ward off sickness.
The only comfort I could take from how dreadful I felt was that I wasn’t alone; an estimated 80% of pregnant women suffer from ‘morning’ sickness with a small number developing the more severe hyperemesis gravidarum. Which, incidentally, was what it’s claimed that author Charlotte Bronte died from. Obviously medicine has come on in leaps and bounds since then, but perversely I found it a relief that I could have been feeling worse.
There’s no exact known cause for morning sickness, scientists have posited the theory that it could be due to an influx of the hCG and progesterone hormones, or perhaps a reaction to the sudden stretching of the uterine walls, but no-one really knows. If we were forced to take a plus from morning sickness, it’s that it usually means the pregnancy is a healthy one. I coped by eating little and often of the foods I could tolerate, I avoided getting hungry and eating greasy foods and I stayed hydrated. From talking to pregnant friends, it seems that different remedies work for different women. One swore by eating a biscuit before she got out of bed in the morning and another could only eat chicken curry for the whole nine months.
During week 8 I read avidly about my baby’s development. I didn’t have any noticeable physical changes yet but I discovered that my body couldn’t be more different on the inside. My grape – sized baby was growing at a rate of approximately 1mm per day, developing separate fingers and toes, his eyelids, nose and mouth were all becoming more formed and, most excitingly, he was beginning to look more like a ‘real’ baby, as the tail of early gestation had almost disappeared. In fact, he was even starting to move his limb buds in the tiniest of ways.
There was one exciting moment in week 8, and that was the day I went to meet my midwife for the first time. Midwives offer community-based care throughout your pregnancy. The appointments are usually once a month to start with and get closer together as your pregnancy progresses. Until 28 weeks or so, your midwife will be your first port of call if you have any questions or concerns.
I was surprised by how in-depth my first appointment was. I hadn’t been expecting much, after all, I was just barely pregnant. But actually, it was my longest appointment. The midwife took an in-depth, family medical history, asked me about my partner’s medical history (thankfully all straightforward), measured my height and weight, tested my urine for any worrying signs and took some blood. I had forms to fill out and I had to tick the relevant boxes to show which blood tests I consented to. All this took an hour and then she asked me where I wanted to have my baby.
This took me by surprise; I hadn’t even considered where I’d like to have her! I’d assumed that it was far too early in the pregnancy to think about labour and delivery, but it turns out I was wrong. Although I was fairly clueless about my options, I instinctively chose to plan to deliver in hospital. I had no desire to stay at home – and possibly ruin my carpets – and I knew that I would definitely want any drugs they were offering. I did not plan to martyr myself.
Even though I hadn’t been expecting the question, I reflected after my appointment that it was actually a good thing. Thinking about the end of this process, that I was struggling with mid-way through the first trimester, made it feel much more like a real pregnancy and reminded me that in just 32 weeks’ time all the hard bits of pregnancy would be over and I would be preparing to meet this tiny little thing growing inside me.