Week 8 is the peak of morning sickness, and the never-ending urge to vomit or the displeasure with your upset stomach might be at its peak too! However, these symptoms indicate that the embryo (which will be called a fetus starting from the end of Week 10 of pregnancy) is indeed growing in your belly. How much has your baby grown since then and how big is it now? Read on to find out more about the mother’s and baby’s physical condition in Week 8.
8 Weeks Pregnant: The peak of morning sickness
If you consume enough water and pass urine as frequently as you used to, then you do not have to worry. However, if you are vomiting frequently and not drinking enough water, there is a possibility that you might be afflicted by hyperemesis gravidarum (a rare but severe form of morning sickness). Go to the hospital as soon as possible for a checkup, especially if the dehydration continues and the symptoms become more severe-your baby’s life depends on it!
The placenta grows rapidly during this week and the uterus, which was about the size of an egg, is now as big as a balled-up fist. You might start to feel that your figure has changed, or that your breasts has become larger. Constraining your body too much hinders the growth of the mammary glands and makes giving breastmilk difficult, so if you feel constrained by your clothes you used to wear, how about giving maternity bras a go?
8 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of embryo (fetus) in your belly
In Week 8, the soft bone tissues (cartilage) in the embryo continue to ossify, and organs essential for growth are on their way to becoming mature organs. The embryo is 13 to 18 mm long and weighs about 1 to 3 g. Up till now, the embryo got its nutrients from the yolk sac, but once the placenta and umbilical cord are completely formed, the fetus will receive nutrients directly from the mother’s body.
The soft cartilages that started forming around Week 6 ossify and start changing into hard bones (this is called intramembranous ossification) in Week 8. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet becomes more concave in shape, and stubs that ultimately form fingers and toes start appearing. The arms lengthen, the elbows become bent and blood flows through the arteries and veins.
Parts of the face like the tongue, ear, nose, eyelids and the eyes begin to form, although the baby is not yet able to see. Internal organs like the heart, brain, liver, lungs and kidney are also in the process of formation. The intestines, however, are too long to be able to fit into the embryo’s belly, and so remain in the umbilical cord. As the baby continues to grow, the intestines will move into their proper position.
In addition, the gonads (testes or ovaries, depending on the baby’s sex) are formed in the pelvis. Nipples form at this stage. The tissues of the brain, muscles, and nervous system continue to build up, and the body and limbs are now able to move spontaneously. As the embryo is still very small and does not come in direct contact with the wall of the uterus, mothers are usually not able to feel the movements of the embryo.
8 Weeks Pregnant: Bleeding
There is an overall 10% risk of pregnancy loss and most pregnancy losses occur during the period from fertilization to Week 12. Usually, pregnancy loss during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy occurs because of anomalies in the embryo, so you could not have prevented the miscarriage from occurring.
However, you can improve the odds of having a healthy pregnancy by avoiding strenuous exercises and having a stress-free lifestyle. Adequate folic acid intake has also been linked to a reduced risk of pregnancy loss.
Many women experience slight bleeding in the early stage of pregnancy. This isn’t usually a cause for concern, but if you have abdominal pains that accompany the bleeding, or if you feel that something is amiss, don’t just rely on your own judgment: get a check-up from your ob-gyn.
8 Weeks Pregnant: Weight gain and varicose veins
Varicose veins are the parts of veins in calves, thighs and knees that are swollen. About 10% of pregnant women are affected by this. When you are pregnant, your weight and the amount of blood created in your body increases, ultimately putting pressure on the veins in the legs.
Pregnant women are more prone to getting varicose veins because the release of progesterone inhibits smooth muscle contraction, weakening the ability of valves in the veins to prevent the reverse flow of blood. This causes the blood to pool in the lower half of the body and varicose veins form easily.
To prevent varicose veins from forming, avoid crossing your legs or standing up for too long. You can also try propping your legs up with cushions when you sleep. In most cases, varicose veins disappear after delivery, when hormone balance is restored and your body mass returns to pre-pregnancy levels.
Combating symptoms: A balanced diet
For those experiencing symptoms like heartburn or indigestion, you might be worried that not being able to eat when you think you should will adversely affect the baby. However, at this point in time, you do not need to worry too much about the baby’s nutrition. Eat when you can, what you can and the amount that you can.
If possible, try to increase your intake of nutrients that are beneficial to the baby’s growth: proteins, dietary fiber, iron, folic acid and calcium. Eat smaller meals and increase the number of meals you take, instead of eating 3 large meals. Also, eating some snacks before going to sleep and immediately after you wake up might help combat symptoms of pregnancy such as nausea and vomiting.
Flu symptoms and infectious diseases
If a pregnant woman is infected by parasites like Toxoplasma gondii (spread through feces of cats), or certain bacteria or viruses, the transmission of these microbes through the placenta or blood flow can cause the embryo to become infected as well. As a result, there is a possibility that the baby might be born with birth defects. In serious cases, the baby might even die.
Although diseases like influenza do not affect the baby, if you were to fall sick, there are many medications that aren’t safe to take during pregnancy as they could harm your baby. Try to keep your surrounding areas clean, wash your hands, use mouth wash regularly, and take other necessary precautions to reduce chances of contracting infectious diseases.
Also, when you feel the onset of symptoms pointing to a cold or flu, do not ignore them: go to the doctor’s and find out how to nip your flu or cold in the bud and put an end to it before it worsens. If your family doctor or ob-gyn has been helping to keep tabs on your physical condition since the early stage of pregnancy, then that person could be a pillar of support to you as you feel more comfortable going to them for advice.
When you don’t feel physically well or suspect that you might have fallen prey to some disease, talk to your family doctor or ob-gyn and get some medical advice. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Fight your morning sickness!
Week 8 is the peak of morning sickness, but it usually improves when the pregnancy enters the second trimester, so have patience! When you are not feeling well, try not to overdo things, and pass each day as calmly as you can.