During week 8 of pregnancy, your baby will continue taking huge developmental strides; your baby's vital organ systems are continuing to grow. Your baby is growing rapidly in all directions at a rate of one millimeter per day and has begun to move.1
Your little boy or girl is now also able to begin using your uterus as a swimming pool - yup, he or she can now swim, as the amniotic fluid increases weekly by about 2 tablespoons.2
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. It provides a summary of each stage of pregnancy, what to expect, and insights into how your baby is developing. Take a look at the other articles in the series:
You will also see introductions at the end of some sections to any recent developments that have been covered by MNT's news stories. Also look out for links to information about related conditions.
Symptoms at 8 weeks pregnant
At this stage of your pregnancy, you may not feel very pregnant because there are little if any visible physical body changes. Your baby requires more and more support from your body, which requires your blood volume to increase; at week 8 your heart is now pumping 50% more blood per minute than before you conceived.2
You may, however, begin or continue to experience physical pregnancy symptoms such as:1,2,5,6
Are you fine one minute and in tears the next? During pregnancy it is quite common for your emotions to be up and down, and everywhere else besides.
- Morning sickness
- Weight gain or loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloating, gas, constipation
- Increased sense of smell
- Excess saliva
- Food aversions and cravings
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Urinary frequency
- Increase in vaginal discharge
- Mild pelvic cramping
- Occasional vaginal spotting
- Breast changes such as enlargement, tenderness, tingling, nipple erection, nipple sensitivity, darkening areola and the presence of areolar bumps, which are actually sweat glands, known as Montgomery tubercles.
(Note: pregnancy increases the risk of urinary tract infections from weeks 6-24, so if your symptoms are not simply from the pregnancy and you suspect an infection, speak with your health care provider about treatment.)7
Your hormones at 8 weeks pregnant
Throughout your pregnancy, you will experience variations in certain hormones, which contribute to many of the pregnancy symptoms you may experience.
Following implantation of the fertilized egg, your body begins to secrete the hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) which is the hormone used to detect pregnancy. HCG is responsible for regulating estrogen and progesterone and contributes to frequent urination.8
Progesterone, which is initially produced by the corpus luteum, rises throughout your pregnancy and continues to do so until the birth of your baby.
In early pregnancy, progesterone is responsible for increasing uterine blood flow, establishing the placenta and stimulating the growth and nutrient production of the endometrium (lining of the uterus). Additionally, progesterone plays a vital role in fetal development, preventing premature labor and lactation, as well as strengthening the pelvic wall muscles to prepare your body for labor.8
In addition to progesterone, the placenta is vital in secreting vital hormones during your pregnancy such as:7
- Human placental lactogen: this hormone is believed to handle mammary gland growth, which will be important for lactation following the birth of your baby. Additionally, it plays a role in increasing nutrient levels in your blood, which is vital to the growth and development of your baby
- Corticotrophin-releasing hormone: this hormone is not only responsible for determining how long you will be pregnant, but it is also responsible for your baby's growth and development. Later in pregnancy, the rise in both corticotrophin-releasing hormone and cortisol not only complete fetal organ development but also provide the mother with a surge of cortisol which has been linked with maternal attentiveness, increasing the mother-baby bond.
Another vital hormone in pregnancy is estrogen, which is responsible for fetal organ development, placental growth and function and mammary gland growth, which will be important for lactation following the birth of your baby.
Additionally, estrogen is needed for regulation of other hormones produced during pregnancy.
Because of the rise in progesterone and estrogen, you may experience some not so pleasant pregnancy symptoms such as mood swings and morning sickness.
Another hormone, relaxin, can cause physical symptoms such as pelvic pain, balance difficulties and constipation, because of its role of relaxing maternal muscles, ligaments and joints.
Baby's development at 8 weeks pregnantAt 8 weeks pregnant there are many changes in your baby's development. Developments that are underway include:1-4
By the time you are 8 weeks pregnant, your baby's neural tube has completely formed, and their heart is beating at around 150 bpm.
- Eyes: the eyes are now visible parts of the face with eye folds forming. In addition to external eye developments, the retina is now pigmented
- Ears: the external ear has completed forming
- Face/mouth: the upper lip and nose have formed, fusion of the palate bone occurs and taste buds form
- Heart: the heart is now beating at about 150 bpm
- Limbs: the limbs continue to develop as the arms and legs become longer, with the fingers and toes now having a distinct appearance
- Body: the head becomes erect and rounded. The trunk begins to straighten. The neural tube has completely formed, and cartilage is now becoming bone
- Abdomen/pelvis: intestines begin to move from the umbilical cord to the body and the external genitalia remain unrecognizable.
Things to do in week 8 of pregnancy
Your task list is growing and if you have not done so make sure that you schedule your prenatal visit.
Headaches may become a nuisance, but do not fret, this is likely due to the increase in blood volume you are experiencing. However, it may be a good idea to discuss this with your health care provider. Need relief? Try acetaminophen as a safer alternative to ibuprofen or aspirin, as, in general, they are not recommended during pregnancy, unless specifically recommended by your health care provider.1,9
Your once clear and perfect skin may now be feeling the effects of the pregnancy. You may begin noticing facial skin changes, such as dark spots (melasma). Try applying SPF 15 before you go out.1
Around this time, symptoms of pregnancy might become a bother and become frustrating. Once energetic, you may feel exhausted, so do not forget to call in some family and friend favors and ask for help. You may need to call for an SOS every once in a while and most of the time, your friends and family will be glad to help out.
Your gut may be causing a lot of ruckus these days and with all else going on, you are lucky if you make it through the day without running to the bathroom with your hand over your mouth! To help alleviate some of the GI symptoms you are experiencing such as nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating and constipation you can try some of the following easy things.
For nausea and vomiting, try eating foods that have ginger in them. As you will learn, mom knows best, so you might want to stock up on some tummy soothing ginger ale to help settle your stomach. Backed up? Consider adding more fiber to your diet by including more fresh fruits and veggies on your plate.1
Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy, however, some cravings are considered abnormal and may be due to certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Craving things such as clay, starch or other non-food items, can signify that you have something called pica. Discuss this with your health care provider.
No one likes the word "moist" but these days, you might be feeling, well...moist. This thin, milky vaginal discharge, called leucorrhea, is actually a good thing. Your body is taking instinctual steps in protecting your birth canal from infection and protecting its natural bacterial environment. The vagina needs to have a harmonious balance of good and bad bacteria to remain healthy and free of infection.1
It is important to discuss any new symptoms with your health care team to ensure that they are normal and nothing to be concerned about.
Lifestyle changes at 8 weeks pregnant
As with earlier weeks, you find out that there are many lifestyle modifications that need to be made during pregnancy and even after delivery.
During pregnancy, you will need to take care of yourself and your developing baby. Be sure not to drink alcohol or smoke during pregnancy, and avoid all other toxic substances such as drugs during this time. Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your health care provider to ensure that you should continue use during your pregnancy. To nourish yourself and your baby, make sure you eat a healthy diet and take a good prenatal vitamin.2
Another way to maintain your health during pregnancy is to get 30 minutes per day of exercise such as yoga, walking or swimming.6 Speak with your health care provider about your current or desired exercise regimen to make sure it is safe.
Everyone wants to look their best but using permanent hair color is not recommended during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy; instead consider using a semi-permanent dye.7
While it is safe to eat fish during pregnancy, it is recommended that you limit your intake to 8-12 oz. of fish and shellfish per week.6,8
Some examples of fish which are safe to consume during pregnancy include shrimp, canned light tuna (note: mercury varies can to can), pollock, catfish, salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, trout, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel and cod. If you plan on eating albacore tuna and tuna steak, it is recommended to limit consuming this fish to 6 oz. per week.8
Most importantly is to avoid eating shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel while pregnant, as they have high levels of mercury which can be harmful to your baby's brain and nervous system.
Baby's size at 8 weeks pregnant
While your baby may resemble an alien, he or she is still the apple of your eye or in this case raspberry.
At 8 weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of a raspberry.
Your baby now is measuring about ½ of an inch and is now about the size of a raspberry!1,3
If you have questions regarding your pregnancy, be sure to contact your health care provider.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage such as vaginal bleeding or passage of tissue, leaking vaginal fluid, feeling faint or dizzy, low blood pressure, rectal pressure, shoulder pain and severe pelvic pain or cramping.6
Exercise during pregnancy provides numerous health benefits to both the mother and baby. Maintaining fitness boosts mood, energy, sleep and prevents excess weight gain.
While treating psychiatric disorders in pregnant women with commonly used antidepressants lowers the risk of several pregnancy complications, use of this medication is also associated with an increased risk of neonatal problems, according to the findings of a new study.