Fetal Development: Week 8

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Week 8 of your Pregnancy

Your embryo now measures approximately ⅝ inch or 1.5 cm (about the size of a raspberry).

Embryo at week 8 of pregnancyThis week, even more changes occur in your growing embryo:

  • The eyes are becoming more obvious,
  • The tail is beginning to disappear,
  • Elbows and knees can bend,
  • Distinct tiny webbed fingers and toes develop and
  • Your baby’s face is becoming more defined with the eyelids, ears, upper lip and the tiny tip of a nose now visible.

Even though you cannot feel it yet, your little embryo is making spontaneous little movements. As the amniotic fluid is increasing, your tiny baby has space to move around and is starting to use your womb as a swimming pool.

The umbilical cord is now clearly visible and will soon take over full function of  providing oxygen and nutrients to baby and removing waste products. (Initially the yolk sac provides nourishment).

Your baby’s little heart is now beating at an incredible 150 beats per minute!

What To Expect

Before pregnancy, your uterus was about the size of a fist and has now grown to the size of a grapefruit.

In addition, because your baby is requiring more and more support from your body, your blood volume has increased resulting in a 50% increase in the amount of blood your heart pumps per minute. Headaches may become more common.

While you may not look pregnant yet, you will definitely feel pregnant! Blame the hormones!

During pregnancy, the hormones, estrogen and progesterone, increase and play a vital role. Progesterone is responsible for increasing blood flow to your uterus, establishing the placenta, preventing premature labor and preparing your body for labor by strengthening your pelvic muscles. Estrogen plays a role in your baby’s organ development, growth of the placenta, preparing your breasts for lactation (after birth) and in regulating other hormones produced during pregnancy.

Many of the not so good pregnancy symptoms that you may experience, such as morning sickness, are due to the hormonal changes happening during pregnancy.

Relaxin, another hormone that increases significantly during the first trimester, relaxes the pelvic ligaments, which may result in pelvic pain.

Along with bloating and constipation, comes another unpleasant surprise – flatulence (aka farting!) and burping.

Virtually every pregnant woman gets gassy. The increase in hormone levels slows down your gastrointestinal tract and relaxes your sphincter muscles with the result that farts and burps become more frequent and can be very embarrassing too!  Try avoiding foods that normally cause gas, exercising and eating smaller more frequent meals.

Don’t be surprised to find that you suddenly burst into tears for no reason at all. Moodiness is common too.

Some women also develop oily skin and acne. Please check for safety before you use any over-the-counter remedies.

Feeling more tired than usual? The good news is that this will improve during the second trimester.

You may occasionally feel cramping in your lower abdomen and sides. Don’t be alarmed by these, unless they are accompanied by vaginal bleeding or increase in intensity.

Your body is adapting to the demands of a rapidly growing baby.

Tips for Week 8

To help alleviate the nausea, try eating small, frequent meals with more protein, adding lemon to your drinking water, snacking on ginger or peppermint candies, drinking ginger tea or eating dry crackers. It may take some time trying to find what works for you, but it will be worthwhile.

On the positive side, your first prenatal visit is usually scheduled between week 8 and week 12.

As it will involve taking a full medical history and a general health check, it may take up to an hour of your time. Use this opportunity to ask questions (make a list before your appointment).

You may be sent for some blood tests as well.

The changes in your breasts may be causing you some discomfort and you may want to change to a good supportive bra for comfort. If your breasts have increased in size, think about scheduling a fitting before buying.

Even though you may not be feeling so good, don’t forget to remember this special time. Create memories. It is so easy to forget all the little details of a wonderful experience.

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