Week-by-week guide to pregnancy
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. Happy reading!
Week 8 – your first trimester
You've changed so much over the past few weeks – but most people won't notice a thing, as all the action is going on inside your belly. You might have a bit of bloating, but there's still no baby bump. If you're getting symptoms, such as morning sickness, then it seems very unfair that there's nothing to show for it! You may have slightly swollen breasts but it will probably take another few weeks before you actually look pregnant. Many women try sticking out their belly in front of the mirror to see what they'll look like in a few months' time. Have fun – it's all part of bonding with your bump-to-be!
What's happening in my body?
You might have missed your second period now, although the pregnancy hormones could make you feel like you've got premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Inside you, big things are happening. Your baby is growing very quickly and now almost looks human. The baby is still very happy in its protective amniotic sac and gets all its nourishment from a yolk sac, but the placenta is getting ready to take over the job, providing nutrients and oxygen and taking away waste. As part of the takeover process, your placenta is sprouting little branches that will enable it to attach itself to the wall of your womb.
Beating the pregnancy blues
No matter how excited you are about having a baby, there are likely to be times when you'll feel anxious and stressed. You might start arguing with your partner. Maybe you're worried about what having a baby will do to your relationship, how you'll cope financially or juggling work and a baby… or maybe you just feel anxious and don't know why. It's hard to think clearly when you're feeling sick and tired, so look after yourself and get as much rest as you can. Eat six small healthy meals a day. You could also experiment with mindfulness, which is a technique designed to help you enjoy life more by focusing on the here and now. There's more advice on how to cope here. The important thing is to share your worries, as there's lots of support available. A good start would be to talk to your midwife or doctor.
Early pregnancy symptoms (at 8 weeks)
Being 8 weeks pregnant isn't easy. On top of feeling sick and tired, you could find yourself in and out of the loo as your expanding womb pushes onto your bladder. If this starts to affect your sleep, then drink lots of fluids in the day, as it's important to stay hydrated, but hold back in the evenings.
Your symptoms could also include:
- a metallic taste in your mouth
- sore breasts
- morning sickness
- mood swings
- new likes and dislikes for food and drink – anyone fancy cake with chutney? You can read our advice on weird pregnancy cravings here
- 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
There's more too! Tommy's, the baby charity, has a list of 10 common pregnancy complaints with advice on how to manage them.
If you're not getting any symptoms at all, then you could be one of the lucky ones! Some women barely have any signs of pregnancy for the entire nine months. Every year in the UK, around 320 women give birth without even knowing they were pregnant.
What does my baby look like?
Your baby is now around 16mm long from head to bottom, 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. The arms are getting longer and right now they're 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 aren't ready yet.
Around now, your embryo is given a fancy new name and becomes a “foetus”, which means offspring in Latin.
Help your baby get the best start in life by taking action now. The following steps will also help you to enjoy the rest of your pregnancy, safe in the knowledge that you're doing all you can to help that little bundle of cells inside of you…
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. Plus you'll 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. This is a highlight for many women.
In total, most first-time mums will have around 10 appointments and two scans. Ask if it's possible to see the same carer for your entire pregnancy, to give you continuity.
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.
It's early days, but ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. These 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.
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.
We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but as we are at home a lot more at the moment, you may not be getting enough. If you're pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement. It's worth checking 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.
Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. 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.
Don't eat for two! That's a big myth. 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 bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it.
This week's treat
Get out of a food rut and enjoy experimenting with new ways to get your 5 A Day. Maybe you've never tried purple sprouting broccoli or sweet blood oranges? The great news is that if you eat healthily, then the baby does too.
Want to know when the baby's due?