Week 8 of Your Pregnancy

A look at your body, your baby, and more

This, week 8 of your pregnancy, might be the first time you get to see your growing baby on an ultrasound. Believe it or not, he or she now has all of his or her organs, though it doesn't quite look like it right now. While you're not showing yet, your uterus is expanding significantly. You may also be experiencing symptoms like cramps.

Week 8 is likely also the first chance you’ve had to have a healthcare professional address all your questions and concerns. Don’t worry about getting all the answers this week. You’ll be seeing your healthcare provider regularly up until delivery.

week 8 pregnancy highlights
Illustration by Verywell 

Your Trimester: First trimester

Weeks to Go: 32

You This Week

Before you were pregnant, your uterus was about the size of your fist. Now? It’s approaching the size of a grapefruit. This normal and natural uterus expansion also causes the ligaments and muscles supporting the uterus to stretch. All of this growth, plus ever-increasing levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), can result is some cramping. (Your hCG levels will hit their peak between week 8 and week 12.) It may feel like an invisible force is pulling on your abdomen from one or both sides, or it may simply mimic period cramps. While this sensation can be frightening, in most cases, it’s normal and nothing to worry about.

Cresting pregnancy hormones can cause your blood vessels to relax and widen, which, in turn, can bring about dizziness. For some, that means feeling a little lightheaded. For others, that can mean feeling cold, clammy, and nauseated at the same time. If you feel dizzy, you should lie down or, if that’s impossible, sit with your head between your knees.

Your Baby This Week

At week 8, your baby-to-be has all of the organs and body parts of an adult human, just on a much smaller scale. (Your embryo is just over an inch in length.) In fact, there isn’t enough room in baby’s abdomen for his or her intestines; until about 12 weeks, they’ll extend into the umbilical cord.

Of course, not everything is completely formed yet, but it’s getting there. Notably, baby’s bones are beginning to develop; his or her muscles can contract; and tiny elbows and wrists can bend. Pigment is developing in baby’s retina. (Your baby’s permanent eye color, however, isn’t revealed until he or she is at least a year old.)

Baby’s tadpole-like appearance is fading (embryonic tail included) as his or her body starts to straighten out and those nubby, paddle-like hands and feet begin to bud fingers and toes.

Baby’s gonads become either testes or ovaries this week. And while your baby’s sex is already determined, the glide of a goopy ultrasound wand over your belly can’t reveal that yet. (That happens at about week 18 to week 20.) Other tests may be able to confirm a baby's sex sooner, however.

At Your Doctor’s Office

For many, this will be your very first prenatal visit. It’s likely your longest and most comprehensive as well.

Here, your healthcare provider will ask you to share your complete medical, psychological, and menstrual history, including past hospitalizations, illnesses, and pregnancies; unhealthy habits, period regularity, and more. The date of your last menstrual period will be recorded in order to help determine your due date. You will also be asked about your family’s health history, specifically regarding chronic illnesses, diseases, and genetic and chromosomal birth defects.

Examination wise, your blood pressure, height, and weight will all be measured. You’ll be given a breast and pelvic exam, and a Pap test if you haven't had one recently. And, of course, urinalysis and blood tests are also on the to-do list in order to confirm pregnancy and screen for things like a UTI, anemia, rubella immunity, syphilis, hepatitis B, cystic fibrosis, HIV, and more.

Through this, your blood type and Rh factor will be determined. If you and your baby have opposite Rh factors, you’ll need medication to prevent complications. While you will not be asked for a blood draw at every prenatal visit, you will be asked to pee in a cup every single time. Note: For this visit, you will not have to fast for these blood tests.

For some, the 8-week appointment is also when the first ultrasound occurs. (If it is on deck, find out from your healthcare provider if a full bladder is required for more accurate results.) Here, your healthcare provider will squirt some cold gel on your belly, then maneuver a wand-like transducer over your skin that uses sound waves to create a picture of the baby. This is done to help determine your baby’s due date. (If your baby is deep in your pelvis, or if you are overweight, a transvaginal ultrasound may be used instead. For this, the transducer is placed inside the vagina to garner a picture.)

However, an 8-week scan is not a must. First, some insurance plans won’t cover more than a certain number of ultrasounds, so this one may be deemed unnecessary. Second, not all healthcare providers deem early ultrasounds necessary. Some women have many ultrasounds during pregnancy, while some don’t have any. There are no set standards or rules.

Taking Care

With your first prenatal visit often comes your first official weigh-in while pregnant. Because of this, pregnancy weight gain might be on your mind. It’s normal, natural, and expected that pregnant women gain about two to four pounds during the first trimester. Of course, everyone is different, and it’s also normal for women to lose weight during the first trimester due to nausea and vomiting.

When it comes to your eating, “you may alternate between feeling nauseous—and having no appetite—and ravenous, especially early on, thanks to a complex interaction of hormones including progesterone, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin,” says Allison Hill, M.D., a private practice OB-GYN in Los Angeles.

If you find you’re shunning a lot of food, make sure you keep hydrated and take those prenatal vitamins. (Down them with a food you can tolerate to help curb vitamin-related nausea, too.) And if you’re feeling hungrier than ever before, go ahead and answer your cravings with whole foods that will satisfy.

Keep healthy, easy-to-grab snacks, like apples and peanut butter or hummus and whole wheat pita chips, closeby; carb/protein combinations are especially filling. And know that you only need about 300 extra healthy calories a day to nourish your growing baby (make that 600 for twins). For some perspective, one medium-size banana smeared with two tablespoons of peanut butter and topped with dried coconut clocks in at 293 calories. A shake made with two bananas, four ice cubes, one cup of low-fat or non-dairy milk, and a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder is 342 calories.

Special Considerations

If you have ever experienced concerns or challenges revolving around body image, weight, and/or control over your body, pregnancy has a way of bringing all of those issues to light. “Know that it’s always OK to seek support from a mental health professional to navigate these potentially complicated issues and to engage in self-care,” says Shara Marrero Brofman, PsyD, a reproductive and perinatal psychologist at the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit organization that specializes in women’s maternal and reproductive mental health. For help finding an appropriate mental health professional near you, consider reaching out to Postpartum Support International. Despite what the name implies, the group focuses on perinatal (pre-birth) issues as well.

Upcoming Doctor's Visits

If you’re healthy and there are no complicating factors, you can expect to see your healthcare provider in about a month, when you’re 12 weeks pregnant. (The every-four-week visits will continue until week 28. After that, it’s every two weeks until 36 weeks, then once a week until you deliver.)

During your next visit, you’ll likely be offered prenatal testing; first trimester screenings occur between week 10 and week 14. At that time, your healthcare provider might recommend a blood test that may be able detect trisomy 18 and 21, as well as a nuchal translucency screening, which is an ultrasound that measures the amount of fluid behind the baby’s neck, or the nuchal fold. Both of these tests are used to screen for Down syndrome and a few other chromosomal conditions.

Whether these tests are right for you is a decision between you, your partner, and your healthcare provider. Take the time between now and this visit to think about how you’d like to proceed.

For Partners

While your partner is likely not yet sporting a baby belly, that won’t last much longer. If you’re hoping to document her bump progression, now’s a good time to start snapping those monthly pictures. At the same time, know that it’s OK for the two of you to want some alone time to process all that’s going on. While you do that, pamper her and yourself. Two soon-to-be parents who nurture their own mental wellbeing can only be good for your baby.

Verywell Checklist

  • Continue taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Continue drinking about eight to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Talk with your partner about genetic testing.
  • Come up with a list of go-to healthy snacks to stock up on.
  • Pamper yourself.
  • Consider seeking the guidance of a mental health professional.
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources