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Congratulations on entering the eighth week of pregnancy! At the end of this week, you will be two months pregnant. Even if you don't see a baby bump yet, you are probably already experiencing signs like bloating and sore breasts as the hormone levels rise in your body.

Your baby is now growing quickly in your womb: this week, your baby transitions from being an embryo into becoming a foetus. You will start observing subtle changes in your body. You will have to start making appropriate lifestyle changes to be able to carry the pregnancy to full term, and deliver a healthy baby boy or girl.  

Since the pregnancy is still quite new, you might have a number of questions regarding what’s good for the baby, and what steps you should take to stay healthy during the next 33 weeks. Here’s everything you need to know about what happens in the eighth week of pregnancy.

  1. Symptoms in the 8th week of pregnancy
  2. Your baby in the 8th week of pregnancy
  3. Your body in the 8th week of pregnancy
  4. Tests in the 8th week of pregnancy
  5. Vaccinations during the 8th week of pregnancy
  6. What can go wrong in the 8th week of pregnancy?
  7. Things to do in the 8th week of pregnancy
  8. Takeaways for the 8th week of pregnancy

Some lucky women barely experience any symptoms of pregnancy throughout the gestation period. If you are not one of them, then there’s nothing to worry about since a number of symptoms, including morning sickness, are quite normal. Here are a few that you might experience:

  • Sore breasts: As your progesterone levels rise and your body prepares for lactation, your breasts might feel fuller and tender. You may also experience some breast pain during pregnancy. Expect this feeling of soreness to get better as your pregnancy progresses. Meanwhile, you can shop for a more supportive bra, wear loose clothes and apply a cold compress or take a hot bath if your doctor approves. This should help with the discomfort. 

    Read more: Breast Changes During Pregnancy

  • Tiredness: Your body is producing a greater volume of blood and its hormonal levels are changing rapidly, too. These can cause fatigue or tiredness, and you might feel the need to sleep more than you did before. This symptom will continue throughout the first trimester, and you might experience it even more during the third trimester, but there’s nothing to worry about. Get enough rest,  proper diet and ample exercise, and you will be fine.

Read more: Foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy

  • Frequent urination: As your uterus grows to adapt to the size of the growing baby, it will put pressure on the bladder. This might lead to frequent urination during pregnancy or the feeling that you need to pee more often.
  • Bloating and gas: You might find the bloating and gas during pregnancy unbearable, but these are common pregnancy symptoms. You can manage them better by changing your diet, eating smaller meals, eating slowly and drinking more water. Indigestion during pregnancy is also very common - it can lead to symptoms like bloating and acid reflux.
  • Oily skin: An increase in hormones called androgens can cause the glands in your skin to grow bigger and produce an oily substance called sebum, which, in turn, can block your pores and cause painful acne to form. It’s best to ask your doctor how to manage this symptom instead of applying over-the-counter creams that may have harmful chemicals in them - some acne medicines are especially contraindicated during pregnancy, so do make it a point to check with your doctor before taking any treatment for pimples.
  • PMS symptoms: You might have missed your second period in a row but still experience symptoms of premenstrual disorder (PMS). There might also be a slight amount of vaginal bleeding - visit the doctor immediately if the bleeding increases. These symptoms will ease as your pregnancy proceeds.
  • Metallic taste in the mouth: As your estrogen levels increase, you might get a metallic taste in your mouth while eating or even when you are not eating. This is called dysgeusia, and it will likely trigger a sensitivity towards certain foods and smells as well. Dysgeusia usually fades during the second trimester, but you can manage it better by including citrus fruits like oranges and healthy pickles in your diet and maintaining oral hygiene.

In fact, as your body releases hormones such as progesterone, estrogen and relaxin (which helps your uterus expand but also slows down digestion), you may experience other symptoms such as:

Some of these symptoms, like morning sickness and breast soreness, may get better by the end of the first trimester.

Your baby is now just over 16 millimetres long, or as big as a raspberry. The embryonic tail has disappeared, so your baby is no longer an embryo but a foetus (a Latin word that means offspring).

The baby’s organs are also developing quickly at this stage, and his or her entire body is slowly uncurling and straightening out. The limbs are a bit longer, even though the toes and fingers are not yet well-defined - they are webbed at this point. By the middle of this week, your baby will start to develop fingerprints. The baby’s bones are beginning to develop. The facial features are also developing better at this stage. The tip of the nose is present, the eyes and eyelids are now more developed, too. 

At this stage, the baby is getting its nutrition from the yolk sac but the placenta is quickly developing to replace it for the rest of the pregnancy. The placenta is forming structures that will help it attach to the wall of the womb.

The external genitals are still forming and will be unclear in ultrasound.

You may not have a baby bump yet, but your body is quickly preparing for the rest of your pregnancy, childbirth and lactation. Your uterus, which was roughly the size of your fist, is now as big as a grapefruit. Your breasts might begin to feel more tender and sensitive now, but this is normal as your body is preparing for lactation. Another change you might not have noticed is that your blood volume has gone up by 40-50% to supply nutrients to the baby. This is the reason some women get greater pleasure from sex during pregnancy - the greater volume of blood in their body can make the clitoris and breasts more sensitive to touch.

An ultrasound is usually done in every trimester of pregnancy. In the eighth week of pregnancy, it helps to calculate the due date. Doctors can also monitor the baby's heart rate using ultrasound at this point: it should be between 140-170 beats per minute. A heart rate under 90 beats per minute may indicate a problem.

Your doctor will likely ask you to get the beta hCG test done at this point. hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone produced during pregnancy - it helps to form the placenta. This test helps to rule out Down Syndrome, ectopic pregnancy and any chances of a miscarriage.

Make sure you get your blood pressure checked every time you visit a doctor: gestational hypertension or high blood pressure during pregnancy is common in India and Pakistan.

All pregnant women should get tested for hepatitis B (a viral infection that affects the liver) and HIV (a viral infection that affects the immune system) - doctors can prescribe medicine to prevent the transmission of disease from mother to child if the condition is diagnosed early enough.

Some of the vaccines you take at this stage also provide immunity to your baby. Your doctor may recommend that you get the flu shot and the whooping cough vaccine. Though these are considered safe at any time during the pregnancy, you may experience some side-effects like pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle ache or fever.

Consult your doctor if you experience discomfort or notice allergy symptoms like a skin rash or shortness of breath after taking the vaccine.

You might be taking ample care and every precaution you need to during the first trimester, but there are a few complications that can arise despite this. These are usually beyond your control and you should not blame yourself for them. Instead, get proper support and counselling if they do happen.

  • Miscarriage: This refers to the natural loss of the foetus within the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy. A miscarriage can be quite traumatic, and can be caused if you have a history of miscarriages or have lifestyle habits like smoking or drinking. This does not mean that you cannot get pregnant again, so it’s best to not lose heart and get ample support from family, friends and healthcare professionals.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: If after being fertilised, the egg attaches anywhere other than the walls of the uterus, this condition is known as an ectopic pregnancy. In most ectopic pregnancies, the embryo attaches to the fallopian tubes and starts to grow there. This type of pregnancy is impossible to maintain - however, if it is detected early, your doctor may be able to save your pregnancy and prevent complications. The symptoms, which tend to appear between the 4th week of pregnancy and the 10th week of pregnancy, include pain on one side of the stomach, vaginal bleeding and weakness. Delay in diagnosing and treating this condition can lead to heavy bleedingfainting, and bursting of the fallopian tubes.

Your pregnancy is still in the early stages, but this is the best time to plan everything out with your spouse or partner. This will help you cope better with what comes next, and you will be prepared for every stage of the pregnancy. You will also be able to assure the health of your foetus if you maintain certain aspects of your life better. Here are a few things you must get done by the end of the eighth week of your pregnancy:

  • Appointment with obstetrician: Your obstetrician can give you the due date of delivery as well as a complete health check-up. Your doctor will also tell you to get the common tests, screenings and vaccinations you need at this stage of your pregnancy. This is also the best time to ask any questions you have about the pregnancy in general - remember that there are no wrong questions.
  • Antenatal classes or counselling: While this option might not be available to many yet, if you do have an antenatal class or women’s support group nearby, it is best to join now. You, and preferably your partner, will be able to discuss what’s going on during the pregnancy and how to handle the changes better with a group of peers, which will also be a good way to ensure your emotional wellbeing.
  • Diet: You might have heard that you will have to eat for two during pregnancy. While this is simply not true, you will have to tailor your diet during pregnancy to make sure you get enough nutrients to maintain the pregnancy to full term. You will also have to cut off a number of things from your diet, like alcohol, cigarettes, fatty food, etc. 
  • Prenatal supplements: Ask your doctor about the dietary supplements you need during your pregnancy, especially after you have the results of all your tests and screenings. Your doctor may recommend a protein powder during pregnancy. Your doctor may also give you iodine during pregnancy to avoid the risk of thyroid problems and iron supplements if he/she finds you at risk of developing anaemia during your pregnancy.
  • Exercise: While you shouldn’t do intensive training or play contact sports during your pregnancy, you must get ample exercise. Walking, stretching and light exercises are fine, but do not perform any exercises lying on your back. 

Exercises in the 8th week of pregnancy

Staying active throughout your pregnancy can help to ease some of the pregnancy symptoms, and help you avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Walking, yoga and swimming are all low-impact workouts that could be good for you and your baby. If you are already following an exercise routine, your doctor will probably allow you to continue the routine.

Light yoga can help you deal with symptoms like back pain during pregnancy and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles for the delivery. Light stretching exercises and walking may help to ease symptoms like constipation during pregnancy. Exercises like walking and swimming can also help to improve the mood and help you sleep during pregnancy.

Do check with your doctor before taking up or continuing these activities, though. And as much as possible, work out with a trained professional who can guide and help you to get the maximum benefit of the exercise while reducing the chances of any injury. Here are some things to keep in mind before you start:

  • Avoid lifting heavy weights and reduce the intensity of the exercises as your pregnancy proceeds.
  • Stretching and exercises to strengthen the feet and abdominals will help you later in your pregnancy.
  • Pelvic floor exercises, when performed under the supervision of a trained instructor, can also help.
  • Stop immediately and consult a doctor if you experience any pain in the back or stomach.

From the moment you learn you are pregnant, you and your family must prepare for the upcoming months. Being in the know of everything that is happening in your own body and understanding what your baby needs to develop properly is very important. Ask questions, read up, watch videos and talk to other mothers and healthcare experts to get all the information you need. Maintain a pregnancy journal or diary to map out what you are experiencing - this will also help your doctor understand your symptoms and the specific care you need better. You must remember never to take any medication without consulting your doctor first.

References

  1. American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. Irving, Texas, USA; Pregnancy Week 8
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; You and your baby at 8 weeks pregnant
  3. Week-by-week guide to pregnancy: Start4Life. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Week 8 – your first trimester
  4. American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. Irving, Texas, USA; Fatigue During Pregnancy
  5. SM Flaxman, PW Sherman. Morning sickness: a mechanism for protecting mother and embryo. Q Rev Biol. 2000 Jun;75(2):113-48. PMID: 10858967
  6. Kuga M, et al. Changes in gustatory sense during pregnancy. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. 2002;(546):146-53. PMID: 12132613
  7. Katherine J. Sapra, et al. Signs and Symptoms of Early Pregnancy Loss. Reprod Sci. 2017 Apr; 24(4): 502–513. PMID: 27342274
  8. Vanitha N. Sivalingam, et al. Diagnosis and management of ectopic pregnancy. J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2011 Oct; 37(4): 231–240. PMID: 21727242
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