8th – Eighth week of pregnancy

At 8 weeks of pregnancy, the breasts begin to prepare for breastfeeding (as early as 16 weeks they will be able to produce milk) which leads to an increase in their size compared to normal. On the other hand, as the uterus enlarges, it displaces internal organs and compresses the bladder, so you may feel the need to urinate more frequently. A great revolution takes place in your body, and all this only increases your tiredness and drowsiness. Don’t exaggerate with caffeine though , on the contrary, try to avoid it if you can.

The fetus at 8 weeks

The development of his nervous system

This week is important in regards to fetal brain development, as neurons branch and intertwine with each other to form the primitive neural pathways or circuits. 

During the 8th week of gestation the mouth, tooth buds (which will become baby teeth) continue to develop, the eyes, nose, mouth and ears are becoming more distinct.

His facial development

The eighth week is when the baby’s facial features (eyes, nose and lips) begin to form . The eyes begin to pigment along with the eyebrows, which make the eyes appear to be open.

the development of his limbs

The fetus’s legs and arms begin to lengthen, forming hands, wrists, and elbows, as its body begins to straighten. 

The thighs, knees and feet are not formed yet. 

The small tail, visible last week, has almost completely disappeared together with the interdigital membrane of the fingers. During this week, the baby begins to move, even if it is still too early for you to perceive it.

the development of its internal organs

The heart – despite still having two chambers, instead of four – is pumping efficiently, and already the tiny blood vessels can be seen under the thin skin.

The aortic and pulmonary valves have also formed; its pulse is 157 +/- 13 beats per minute (about double that of an adult.  

In the lungs, which are still growing, bronchi are forming, which will connect to the respiratory channels up to the baby’s throat.

The pituitary gland, liver and kidneys continue to grow, as do muscle fibers, bones and cartilage.

During this week, the liver of the fetus takes over the production of blood cells (cells previously produced by the yolk sac).

We recall that the blood group, being genetically determined, is already defined from conception 

fetus size at 8 weeks

The baby is now about 18 – 22 mm long, the size of half a raspberry.

Now the fetus is increasingly taking on the appearance of a miniature child, with all the organs necessary for survival.

The belly and the rest of the body during the 8th week of pregnancy

Around this time, your belly begins to swell slightly. If you press gently on your abdomen, you may be able to feel your uterus distend, although it won’t be quite noticeable yet. 

The ultrasound at 8 weeks

The ultrasound done at 8 weeks shows the fetus floating almost like an astronaut in space. From the ultrasound it is possible to see a hint of the upper lip, the tip of the nose, the eyelids, and the ears. 

Its skeleton continues the ossification process, the limbs lengthen, and the shoulders and arms are already beginning to be seen.

In most cases, you can also hear and see the fetus’s heart beating.

It is still too early to be able to determine the sex of the unborn child through an ultrasound, but not to determine it through a maternal blood sample.

As you may have understood, this is a crucial week for your child’s growth. It is right that you are aware of it, and that you support the changes that take place inside your belly.

Symptoms during the 8th week of pregnancy

All pregnancy symptoms and morning discomfort continue well into the eighth week, however it is also possible to have none.

Either way, don’t worry! The main symptoms, the most common ones of the eighth week of gestation consist of: 

  • fatigue and tiredness;
  • swelling; 
  • flatulence;
  • constipation;
  • frequent urination;
  • heartburn ;
  • sore breasts; 
  • shortness of breath;
  • increased appetite;
  • emotional changes
  • cravings and aversions towards food; 
  • anxiety;
  • backache;
  • feeling of hunger and thirst;
  • nasal congestion;
  • abdominal pain;
  • ligament pain (especially in the second pregnancy);
  • increased sensitivity to smell;
  • dizziness;
  • swelling and hardening of the belly (rare, but harmless at this stage);
  • insomnia;
  • itching on, legs, hands and belly;
  • joint pain. 

Risk of miscarriage at 8 weeks and after 8 weeks

The sudden disappearance of the symptoms mentioned above doesn’t mean that there are problems with pregnancy. Some of it, like pain and nausea, can come and go. It’s absolutely normal. However, if you feel different or have any other cause for concern, call your doctor. 

This site is for informational purposes only and does not want to replace the opinion of a doctor and no indication should be understood as information to be put into practice, only the professional with the clinical case and/or situation in front of him can express a targeted opinion, so remember practical decisions require a careful evaluation possible only to the healthcare professional facing the problem.

Researchers estimate that up to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  The situation may seem quite disheartening, but you should know that most of the time miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities and are in no way under the control of the mother. 

The good news is that when the fetus reaches eight weeks, the risk of miscarriage decreases to about 1.5%. 

Curiosities and useful things to know about the 8th week of pregnancy

  • During this time you may be subject to brief fainting spells. This is an absolutely normal symptom, which occurs on average in 2.5% of pregnant women. So try to recognize the signs (general malaise, cold sweats, heat waves, slight blurred vision, ringing in the ears) so that you can move immediately to a cool, ventilated environment and, if possible, to lie down with your legs slightly raised above your head (this will help blood flow to the brain). After a possible fainting, absolutely do not drink coffee or alcohol.
  • Due to the increase in your body metabolism, you may feel hotter than usual, so when dressing, try to prefer  comfortable clothes that are quick and easy to take off and put on and that are suitable for the period you are going through.
  • If you are about to become the lucky mother of twins , you must take into account that indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems may occur earlier than average, and in a more intense way.
  • Women in their second pregnancy have a greater rounding of the hips. This is due to the muscles and ligaments in the mother’s body which give way more easily.
  • As for nausea and vomiting (symptoms that occur in 80% of pregnant women) now you may now be going through the worst period of your pregnancy. These symptoms will probably begin to disappear only by the sixteenth week (only 20% of women continue to have them even in the following weeks). For the moment you just have to “hold on”, and remember that nausea is almost always indicative of a healthy and good pregnancy.
  • With this week, the probability of miscarriage begins to decrease, which drops to 1.5%. 

Some useful tips for a peaceful eighth week of pregnancy and a healthy baby

At 8 weeks of pregnancy:

  • If you haven’t already, make your first appointment with your gynecologist or obstetrician. On the occasion of this visit, the doctor, in addition to collecting data relating to your medical history and that of your family, will certainly prescribe you a series of blood tests (free of charge) in order to be able to monitor the development of your pregnancy. Here is a list of those exams .
  • If you haven’t had a Pap smear in more than 2 years, it’s best to do it as soon as possible, or at least before the start of  week 12 .
  • Do not smoke and do not drink alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, and remember to drink enough
  • Try never to be on an empty stomach: on the one hand this will help you fight nausea, on the other it will serve you to satisfy the “extra need” of calories (about 300 more calories, which can become 600 if you wait two twins).
  • Eat lots of fruit and lots of vegetables. In addition to being excellent sources of vitamin C and folic acid, they will help regulate your intestines.
  • Consider wearing maternity bras instead of “regular” bras, as these give more comfort and support.
  • Get plenty of rest, especially if you feel more tired or sleepier than usual. Tiredness could be due to the increase in pregnancy hormones and the increase in blood volume, which can reach 1250 ml: an increase of almost 50% compared to the volume of your blood before pregnancy); 
  • Continue (or start) with constant exercise to keep your muscles toned and to prepare your body for further changes.
  • Try drinking a glass of milk whenever you have heartburn , and see if it helps you feel better.
  • Consult a doctor before taking any medicine, even the most common ones such as paracetamol Tachipirina ) .
  • Continue to take the amount of folic acid prescribed by your doctor because folic acid deficiency in the early stages of pregnancy strongly increases the risk of fetal malformation, in particular increases the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) associated with spina bifida or anencephaly.
  • Pay close attention to those foods that should be avoided during pregnancy , and to pathogens that can compromise the normal development of the embryo.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform, Maternicity.com.

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