As you wrap up the second month of your pregnancy, you’ve had the opportunity to confirm the news and to share the thrilling announcement with your partner. Being pregnant is an overwhelmingly exciting time as you plan for your family’s future.
At around the same time, it is advised to start with antenatal care Here’s what else to expect in week 8 of your pregnancy.
Physiological Symptoms At 8 Weeks
You’ve probably started to notice the physical changes that your body is experiencing during week 8 of your pregnancy. Your womb has grown to the size of a lemon by the time you're around 7 or 8 weeks pregnant.¹ You may also start to feel tired, your breasts may feel sore and enlarged and finding yourself peeing more than usual.¹
Your heart is working harder during this time by beating slightly faster and pumping an increased volume of blood through your body. By the third trimester, it will be moving one and a half times your typical blood supply through your veins.²
You may also notice that your moods are rapidly shifting during this remarkable time. This is called emotional lability and it is caused by the significant changes and hormone shifts that are occurring within your body. As you focus on bonding with your partner, you may struggle to explain what you are feeling and why. If you’re usually not a very emotional person, this change may be startling, but it’s completely normal.
As pregnancy progresses, increased vaginal moisture is common. While your hormones increase in early pregnancy, so will your vaginal discharge. This normal, milky white discharge is called leukorrhea. It is a sign of healthy vaginal flora that protects your vagina and baby from pathogens. Using vaginal wipes or douches is not recommended, as it will not get rid of the discharge, and can make it heavier.
Since pregnancy comes with a heightened sense of smell, pregnant women may notice a slight change in the odour of the discharge. A strong foul odour, itching, pain, or a yellow-green colour are signs that should be addressed during checkup with a doctor.
The Foetus At 8 Weeks
While the movement of a foetus is still unnoticeable to the mother (that will happen between weeks 16 and 22), and the bump is not prominent (soon to come in week 12), the baby is growing rapidly at 8 weeks from conception.
What Is The Foetus Doing In Week 8?
In most cases, the foetus is around 1.6 cm or the size of a kidney bean. At around 2 months of pregnancy, the foetus is making major developmental leaps and bounds. The little embryonic tail is disappearing, and the foetus begins to look more human-like. The ears and facial features are already developing, and the gastrointestinal tract is differentiating. In fact, the embryo has formed tiny versions of all major organs. While it’s too early to identify the biological sex on ultrasound, the baby’s genitals are budding this week. In week 8, the brain is growing, the bones are building, and the little muscles even begin to contract.
Emotional Symptoms at 8 Weeks
We’ve discussed the onslaught of emotions, physical changes, and ailments that may have occurred to you. Now let’s talk about what you can do about it: self-care! Here are some tips to help you maintain your health and well-being in week 8.
Start by increasing your fluid intake because becoming dehydrated while pregnant can cause preterm contractions and urinary tract infections.
Pregnant women receive vital health benefits from mind-body practices like yoga and meditation in conjunction with antenatal care. Find a prenatal yoga video or studio and connect with your baby in a meaningful way.
While the caloric increase requirement is minimal in the first trimester, it's still important to focus on healthy whole foods that will nourish your body and your baby. While it’s okay to occasionally indulge cravings, focus on eating calcium-rich foods, whole grains, fruit and veggies, and lean protein.
Listen to your body. If your body says sleep, then rest. When you are starving, eat a nutritious snack. If you are thirsty, refill your water bottle. Your physical needs are increasing as your body and baby are growing and changing. The essential advice is to listen to your body!
While you may not be able to see it on the outside, your body and baby are both very busy this week. Plan to schedule your first antenatal appointment between weeks 8 and 12 with the OT&P midwives. Receiving care early in pregnancy delivers the best outcomes for both you and your baby.
Around week 12, it’s important to get your routine blood work drawn, also known as the pregnancy profile. These tests include blood typing to make sure your blood is compatible with the baby, thyroid testing, and a complete blood count to ensure that the iron and platelet levels are healthy for pregnancy. The panel will also test for pathogens like HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, and Rubella.
You also will have the opportunity to choose to have genetic screening. You will have three options:
Safe21 non-invasive prenatal screening from 10 weeks+: This is a blood DNA test that is 99.6% effective and screens for chromosomal abnormalities in your baby like Down syndrome (T21), Edwards syndrome (T18), Patau syndrome (T13), and others. This test will be back in 3 to 5 days.
12-week nuchal translucency (NT) ultrasound and blood work: The doctor will take an ultrasound of your babies neck (nuchal fold) and nasal bone and draw OSCAR (one-stop clinical assessment risk) blood work. After the 14th week, it is too late to have the NT ultrasound. This ultrasound can check to see how many babies you are pregnant with and also date your pregnancy with accuracy.
- Panorama prenatal screening test: This non-invasive test screens for the most common genetic conditions (and optionally the baby's gender) as early as nine weeks. It does this by analysing the baby’s (placental) DNA through a blood sample drawn from the mother's arm. Panorama is the only commercially available test that specifically analyses single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine the chromosome copy number.
Receiving care early in pregnancy delivers the best outcomes for both you and your baby. As you can see, there are time constraints on some of these options.
The midwives and doctors at OT&P provide compassionate care from early on in pregnancy, through your birth, and beyond in both the private and public system in Hong Kong. They offer a unique service by giving elaborate counselling regarding pregnancy and birth options to discover what is right for you and your baby.
By consulting with the specialists at OT&P as soon as possible, you will be able to make the best choice for your family.
1. (2018, July). 'You and your baby at 8 weeks pregnant'. NHS UK. Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/week-by-week/1-to-12/8-weeks/>
2. Ciliberto, C. (1997, November).'Physiological changes associated with pregnancy'.Research Gate. Retrieved February 9, 2021. Available at:<https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267821406_Physiological_Changes_Associated_with_Pregnancy>