8 Weeks Pregnant
Big changes for your body
8 weeks pregnant:
eyesEyesThe retinas of the eyes appear as dark spots, and the eyelid folds are beginning to form around them.
heart bulgeHeart BulgeThe little heart bulges out from the chest in the earliest stages of development, but it will move into the body as the baby grows. The tiny heart is pumping at a rate of 90 to 110 beats per minute.
arms & legsArms and LegsElbows and knees are present, and the beginnings of finger and toes appear as small bumps on the pads of the hands and feet.
What's happening with you:
You will likely feel certain changes in your body this week, particularly in your abdomen. Your uterus is enlarged, you feel heavy with fatigue and you may notice some whitish vaginal discharge called leucorrhea by this point in your pregnancy. Many women will also start to experience some pain and discomfort in a few other areas by week 8. For instance, breast tenderness and swelling is common as your tissue grows in preparation for lactation, your growing uterus (now the size of a grapefruit) may lead to sciatic-nerve pain and your surging hormones may leave you constipated. On top of all this, some unlucky moms-to-be will experience acne and skin troubles reminiscent of their teenage years.
While you can feel particularly uncomfortable as your baby goes through this very important developmental phase, steer clear of medication. This stage of pregnancy brings the highest chance of miscarriage, and although most miscarriages cannot be traced to a specific cause, you should be very careful about what you take into your body right now to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
What's happening with your baby:
An 8 week ultrasound would show that your baby is now the size of a kidney bean, and its tiny body has come a long way in just seven days. The very simple facial features that developed last week have become much more complex: the retinas of the eyes now have nerve cells and the eyelid folds are forming, plus the tip of the nose is now distinct. The ears were just small indentations a few days ago but now they are developing their internal and external parts.
And the complexities don't stop there. The aortic and pulmonary valves of the heart are present (helping the heart pump at an extraordinary rate), the arms have elbows and baby's limbs have the beginnings of fingers and toes. The fetus can even make sporadic movements by now, though they are far too faint for you to feel.
Things to do this week:
Fighting morning sickness and staying nourished can be a challenge in your first trimester, and now that cravings have started you may find that you're reaching for quick snacks and empty calories most of the time. If you want to save yourself time and frustration, consider investing in a quality blender this week to help you keep up a healthy diet for pregnancy.
If your tummy is able to handle liquids better than solids right now, you can get the nutrients you need by using a blender. That's not to say that you should blend up all your meals (yuck), but rather that you should think outside the plate. Smoothies and soups are two very satisfying dishes with the potential to be healthy heavyweights, and with a good blender you can whip them up in the blink of an eye. If you want to stretch your investment further, look for a particularly powerful and versatile model that is guaranteed to last -- it will be great for your smoothies and snacks now, but a fantastic tool for making homemade baby food down the road.
Take comfort in the fact that less than 15% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage, and if you avoid environmental hazards and infections like listeriosis or toxoplasmosis, you have an even better chance of continuing with a healthy pregnancy. Most pregnancies will reach the second trimester without any complications, but if you experience the sudden onset of any strange pain, bleeding or other symptom this week, it could spell trouble for you and your baby.
Miscarriages can have mysterious causes, and even if you avoid germs and health hazards (called teratogens) problems can arise. It's important to keep an eye out for any signs of miscarriage so that you can protect your health and safety. Vaginal bleeding followed by cramping, pain that begins in your lower back and moves to your abdomen or pain that comes and goes can signal that a miscarriage is about to happen or is already happening. The good news is that if you begin to experience these symptoms, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll miscarry -- contact your doctor right away and follow her directions to rest and monitor your body.
Tips for your partner:
If mom-to-be is alright with it, take part in the medical side of things. Offer an opinion when it comes to selecting a doctor or midwife (though honor your partner's decision), familiarize yourself with the doctor-patient routine and, most importantly, make it to the appointments. The majority of expectant mothers want their partners to come with them to their prenatal visits, but you should go for your own reasons as much as for hers. After all, you will be surprised and delighted when you hear and see your baby for the first time -- an experience you won't want to miss.
At this point, expect more opportunity for Q&A than glimpses into your baby's existence when you visit the doctor or midwife. Make a list of questions for the first prenatal visit, including those questions that mom-to-be is too shy to ask, and don't be afraid to request answers in plain language instead of medical lingo. Both you and your partner will feel better about what you're going through and what you can expect when you clearly understand everything the doctor says.
Finally, joining your partner on her prenatal visits is a great way to begin your parenting routine. You share the responsibility for the little life inside of her, and approaching issues, concerns and decisions together from the very beginning will let you become comfortable with compromise and help you better understand each other's point of view.
This week's FAQs:
- When can I announce my pregnancy to friends and family?
This is a very personal decision, and while some expectant moms will dial up their loved ones as soon as they find out, others prefer to go the "traditional" route and wait until the 12 week mark, when the greatest risk of miscarriage has passed. The bottom line is that the right time for one person may be the wrong time for another, so weigh the pros and cons to decide when to announce your pregnancy.
If you've lost a pregnancy before, you may be extra reluctant to break the news early, but if you've been trying to get pregnant for quite some time, you may find it near impossible to hold in your enthusiasm. When it comes to work, you may be nervous about telling your boss for fear that the reaction will be less than ecstatic. Understand that there are slight risks to telling early, but a warm response can make divulging your secret worthwhile. And when it comes to work, don't let anxiety sully your excitement -- you have rights as a pregnant worker, and if you show that you are still committed to doing a good job, many businesses will appreciate your honesty and forewarning.
- Are there any precautions I should be taking to avoid infection?
Since certain infections may lead to miscarriage, you should be extra careful about what you do and what you eat these days. Obviously, you should avoid spoiled food and raw meats, but did you know that bacteria and viruses can hide in fresh food, too? Raw vegetables should be thoroughly scrubbed, and keep sprouts out of your refrigerator entirely. Only drink pasteurized juice and switch from over easy to scrambled eggs for the remainder of your pregnancy. Also, listeria can hide in cold cuts and cured meats, so even the "cooked" varieties should be heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you eat them.
When it comes to pets, pass the cleaning duties onto someone else. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by bacteria that can live in animal feces and even some uncooked meats, and since it can harm your developing baby, it's best to avoid any situation that raises your risk of contracting the illness. On the other hand, many pet owners have developed immunity to toxoplasmosis, so you may want to get tested to determine your chances of catching the disease.
- How often will I need to start seeing my doctor or midwife?
After your first prenatal visit (which will likely be this week or next), you can expect to have an appointment once a month until week 32, when you'll begin to go twice a month. Once you hit week 37, you'll be going in each week until your delivery.
Not every visit will involve an exciting event or a series of prenatal tests. Unless you are having a high-risk pregnancy, don't expect to have an ultrasound until at least week 12, and most screening tests are typically conducted well into the second and third trimesters. What you can expect at each visit is a brief physical assessment to make sure your weight gain is on track, blood pressure is good and your uterus is growing as it should be. Of course, every pregnancy is different, and sometimes your doctor will want to see you more or run tests more often, so try to remain flexible and patient as you continue through your pregnancy.
Now that you've chosen a caregiver, you're set for the rest of your pregnancy, right? Well, not necessarily. Remember that your doctor or midwife will take the role of close friend and confidant as you move through your pregnancy -- after all, you'll be meeting up to talk in depth about you and your baby on a regular basis. If you find that you're nervous, distrustful or simply not connecting well with your caregiver, find another one. It pays to have the right professional for you, one who will help to make your journey as smooth and enjoyable as can be, since it can take a very long time to get over a disappointing pregnancy experience.