Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

happy couple looking at pregnancy test results
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

1st trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From early pregnancy symptoms to how your baby is growing and developing, you'll find it all here.

Week 8 – your 1st trimester

You might be feeling bloated and you may have slightly swollen breasts, but it will probably be a few more weeks before you start looking pregnant.

What's happening in my body?

Your baby is growing very quickly. The placenta is getting ready to provide nutrients and oxygen and take away the waste. As part of this process, your placenta is sprouting little branches that will enable it to attach itself to the wall of your womb.

Beating the pregnancy blues

There may be times when you feel anxious and stressed. Look after yourself and get as much rest as you can. Try to eat 6 small healthy meals a day. You could also experiment with mindfulness. You can read NHS advice on how to cope with feelings and relationships during your pregnancy. The important thing is to share your worries, as there is lots of support available. A good start would be to talk to your midwife or doctor.

Early pregnancy symptoms (at 8 weeks)

You may be feeling tired and sick, you could find yourself peeing more often as your expanding womb pushes onto your bladder. If this starts to affect your sleep, try to drink lots of fluids in the day but less in the evenings.

Your symptoms could also include:

  • a metallic taste in your mouth
  • sore breasts
  • morning sickness (read some ways to cope with morning sickness on week 6's page
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • new likes and dislikes for food and drink
  • a heightened sense of smell
  • a milky white pregnancy discharge from your vagina
  • light spotting (see your doctor if you get bleeding in pregnancy)
  • cramping, a bit like period pains
  • darkened skin on your face or brown patches – this is known as chloasma faciei or the "mask of pregnancy"
  • thicker and shinier hair
  • bloating and the feeling of being bloated (read ways to cope with bloating on week 10's page)

Read Tommy's guide to common pregnancy symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby is now around 16mm long, which is about the size of a raspberry. By next week, they will be twice the size!

The tiny head has started to uncurl a bit. Their arms are getting longer and are bigger than the legs as the upper part of the body grows faster than the lower part. The legs are getting longer too, although the knees, ankles, thighs and toes have not developed yet.

Around now, your embryo becomes a “foetus”, which means offspring in Latin.

Action stations

Share the news with your GP or ask for an appointment with a midwife at your doctors' surgery. Alternatively you can refer yourself to your local hospital – look for contact details on their website.

You'll need to arrange a booking appointment. This usually takes place between weeks 8 and 12, and takes around an hour. You can talk about the options for your pregnancy and the birth. You'll also be offered screening tests for infectious diseases, and conditions such as Down's syndrome. You could ask about the Maternity Transformation Programme and how it could benefit you.

You will be offered your first dating scan at 8 to 14 weeks.

If it's your first pregnancy, you will probably have around 10 appointments and 2 scans in total.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they may be able to recommend one. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

Antenatal classes will give you the chance to meet other people and prepare you for parenthood. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the tea, coffee and anything else with caffeine.. Ask your midwife or GP for support if you feel you need it.

Take prenatal vitamins. You're advised to take 400mcg of folic acid every day, until at least week 12. This helps your baby's nervous system to form and offers some protection from conditions such as spina bifida.

To keep bones and muscles healthy, we need vitamin D. From late March/early April to the end of September, most people make enough vitamin D from sunlight on their skin. However, between October and early March, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement because we cannot make enough from sunlight.

Some people should take a vitamin D supplement all year round, find out if this applies to you on the NHS website. You just need 10 micrograms (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). Check if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Do you think you or your partner could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? If so, get checked out, as this could affect your baby's development. Talk to your midwife or GP, or visit a sexual health clinic.

It's recommended that you do 150 minutes of exercise a week while pregnant. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

There's no need to eat for 2. If you pile on the pounds, you could put yourself and your baby at risk of health problems such as high blood pressure. Eat healthily, with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

If you have a long-term health condition, then let your specialist or GP know you're pregnant as soon as possible. Don't stop taking any regular medication without discussing it with your doctor first.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor. They can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family.

You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't keep it to yourself. It's important that you ask for help if you need it.

You and your family should follow the government and NHS guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • read government guidance on how to stay safe from COVID-19
  • get NHS advice about COVID-19
  • use the NHS COVID-19 app for England and Wales – it's the fastest way of knowing when you've been exposed to COVID-19
  • To find out about about COVID-19 and pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, have a look at advice on the:

  • NHS website
  • Breastfeeding Network
  • World Health Organization
  • Want to know when the baby's due?

    Use the NHS's pregnancy due date calculator. You'll get a more accurate date from your doctor or midwife when you have a dating scan (usually at 8 to 14 weeks).

    Go back to week 7

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