Pregnancy is hard on a body. The first few weeks are when a lot is changing, but there aren’t any visible signs. The first trimester, especially if you have any form of morning sickness is hell! But, it’s not just about the common signs, there is so much happening inside you as you nurture a life, that you need to keep a keen lookout for what’s going on.
Despite everything that’s going on, there is a part of you that yearns for this pregnancy to be stretched out in time so that you can live one day at a time. What might seem like an eternity is in reality 12 weeks of your life that can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. Your baby’s gestational age is approximately 6 weeks when you are 8 weeks pregnant and it is on its way to be looked at as a foetus. With innumerable signs and symptoms that you might be going through this week, do not forget to love yourself a little more for being 8 weeks pregnant.
What Are You Dealing With This Week?
Under a seemingly normal exterior, there is a war going on inside your uterus because as the ligaments stretch out to accommodate your growing fetus, everything else is literally making way. You might or might not have respite from the annoying nausea and sleep could continue to be elusive. Listed below are the symptoms that could set in this week and the ones that you continue to feel from previous weeks:
As if you have not had enough of this already, fatigue will continue to make its presence felt in more ways than one in the 8th week of pregnancy. With your body doubling the amount of blood usually produced and your hormones preparing your body for pregnancy and childbirth, there is no doubt that it is a lot to go through. There is a spike in your pregnancy hormone, progesterone, which logically explains the fatigue. Furthermore, the nausea and morning sickness can make you feel more exhausted than you already are. Last but not the least, you have been having a tough time getting those eight hours of precious sleep, with frequent urination and acid reflux, which adds up to your exhaustion.
However clichéd it may sound, you will need to take power naps whenever possible because you must give your body the amount of rest it needs. Ignoring fatigue could invite more problems and the best way out is to take short and frequent naps through the day. If you are working outside, you could request your employer to let you work from home on certain days when you feel absolutely out of place. That will help you to avoid the commute to and from office and save you some time to nap.
You could have a feeling that you will need an entire wardrobe to accommodate the different sizes and varieties of bras that you have been buying recently. With pregnancy hormones preparing your breasts for nursing your baby, they could feel bigger and heavier with each passing day.
Even before your baby bump pops out; your breasts could prevent you from wearing body hugging clothes because they are ever so sore and tender. It is essential that you understand the needs of your body and buy clothes accordingly. Wearing loose cotton clothes with bras underneath that provide adequate support to your breasts will ensure that you keep feeling comfortable all day.
You might also notice that your breasts secrete a liquid that ranges from clear to a yellowish color. This is known as colostrum1 and goes on to become your baby’s first food after he or she is born. While some secrete colostrum all through pregnancy, some do in the final trimester and some others do not secrete at all which is absolutely normal. You might also spot dark veins that develop on and around your breasts which are known as varicose veins that show up because of the increased blood supply to your breasts. It is also normal to find your areolas darkening, the Montgomery tubercles showing up and your nipples growing bigger and more prominent than ever before.
Round Ligament Pain
If you have been experiencing sharp jabbing pain on either side of your pelvis, it is in all probability, round ligament pain that occurs when the ligaments around your uterus stretch out to accommodate your growing fetus. The pain could be especially annoying while standing up or sitting down after a long time. While it is normal to experience this kind of pain at 8 weeks of pregnancy, it is important to let your health care provider know about all your symptoms. What could help you deal with this pain is to take time to get up or sit down if you have been in a static position for long.
There is probably nothing in this world that you haven’t tried by now to get rid of the annoying nausea and morning sickness but if nothing seems to help, knowing this that the first trimester will end sooner than you thought, might bring some relief. By now, you are mostly aware of your triggers and it is best to keep away from them as long as your hormones have not settled down a bit. Continuing to take small and frequent meals and sipping lemonade and ginger ale will definitely see you through this phase.
Since the fetus is still lying low in your uterus, the frequent urination could possibly continue to be your companion for a while. The uterus continues to pressurize your bladder and that urge to pee every hour is the result of that. However annoying it gets, please ensure that you continue to drink to slake your thirst because pregnant women are prone to Urinary Tract Infections and not drinking enough water could potentially trigger it. When your fetus goes up in the second trimester, the frequency of urination will reduce.
You can either start gaining weight or losing a couple of pounds by 8 weeks into your pregnancy. If the weight gain is normal, there is no need to worry but if you are gaining more than the usual standards, you might want your doctor to know about this so that he can rule out any disorder. If you have recently lost weight because you can’t possibly keep anything down due to morning sickness, there is nothing to worry as long as it is not a sharp decrease. As soon as you enter the second trimester, your nausea would have gone and your appetite will be back; so much so that cravings will seem annoying, to say the least.
What Is Your Baby Doing At 8 Weeks?
You might be wondering if you are pregnant at all because nothing shows on the exterior while you are a complete mess, with morning sickness and dark circles under your eyes. However, your fetus is growing rapidly under that possibly bloated tummy and your body is ensuring that this pregnancy thrives in every possible way. Your baby measures around 1.6 cm in size this week.
In the early stages of pregnancy, it is difficult to measure the exact size of your baby because growth occurs at around one millimeter each day which does not necessarily manifest itself in the height of the baby. There can be growth spurts in arms, legs, back and other body parts that will not always be detectable by an ultrasound.
Almost the size of a kidney bean, your baby is now moving and shifting, although you will not feel a thing for quite some time. The tiny hands and feet that will keep you busy all day are now developing into more recognizable features. The fingers and toes are gradually taking shape while continuing to look webbed. You will be delighted to know that your baby’s hands can bend at the wrist just like yours do.
The newly formed eyelids are now almost covering the eyes while his respiratory system begins to form with tubes branching out to reach the lungs that are still developing. The tail that had been a noticeable development of last week is now almost gone. Your baby might just start to look more human by now. By now, your baby’s taste buds are also developing that will later go on to decide how good your culinary skills are.
Your baby’s brain is rapidly developing, with nerve cells dividing and neural tubes branching out to connect neural pathways. A close-up of your baby this week would help you to see an upper lip that is forming under the protruding tip for a nose.
Heartbeat And Twitchy Movements
You would be amazed to know that there is quite a bit of movement going on inside your womb as your baby twitches its trunk and its developing limbs.
Beating at 150 times per minute, your baby’s heart rate is twice as fast as your own. At every prenatal visit, your doctor will listen to the heartbeat carefully with a Doppler and it might sound like wild horses running together.
The manner in which your body is preparing to nourish this baby is incredible. The amniotic fluid increases at the rate of around 2 tablespoons per week to ensure that your baby is always well cushioned and has enough space to stretch out its growing body.
Prenatal Appointment At 8 weeks
If you haven’t had a prenatal appointment earlier, it is likely that the one scheduled this week will be longer in duration. From calculating your due date by taking your LMP into consideration, checking for pre-existing health conditions, considering family history of illnesses to discussing your present pregnancy; there is a lot that your OBGYN will need to do this week. You might be asked for the following answers:
- Family history of Thyroid, Diabetes, high blood pressure.
- History of miscarriage/s.
- LMP (The date of your last month period)
- Birth control methods that you may have adopted before conceiving.
- History of abortions, if any.
- Major surgery or hospitalization.
- Present medications, if any.
- Any physical discomfort during this pregnancy.
Along with these questions, your OBGYN might want to carry out a couple of medical examinations like Pap smear and Ultrasound to check fetal and maternal health.
Why Do I Need A Pap Smear?
A pap smear is a medical test that every woman must take once every three years after turning 21, regardless of sexual activity. It is gradually becoming a part of the battery of tests that are done at the beginning of pregnancy too. This test is carried out to rule out the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer2. It is successful when a potentially cancerous growth cannot be detected with the naked eye. You could look at it as an insurance policy against cancer because with early detection, the chances of remission are greatly enhanced.
A Pap smear is usually recommended as a part of prenatal care. You do not need to worry about your baby because it does not pose a threat to the developing fetus. If there is an abnormal pap that has been detected, your doctor will discuss with you about the course of other tests that you will need to take. A colposcopy or a cervical biopsy might be suggested, both of which are safe during pregnancy.
It has also been noticed that post vaginal births, the abnormal cervical cells tend to be washed away, hence a proper diagnosis will involve testing during and after pregnancy to find out the condition of your cervix.
Could I Be Asked For Other Tests?
Your healthcare provider might want you to take a few other tests so that a thorough medical history is obtained to ensure that your pregnancy thrives. Listed below are some of the other lab tests you might have to take:
- Rubella screening.
- Varicella3 and Hepatitis.
- Hepatitis B Surface Antigen.
- Dental tests.
What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider At 8 Weeks?
There would be a number of questions that you are raring to ask your doctor but you keep forgetting the 3rd or 4th at every visit. Jotting down your questions as and when they occur to you is a good idea to deal with pregnancy hormones that has been recently making you forgetful. What are the questions that you need to ask?
- You would do well to ask your doctor if your oral hygiene is good enough and whether you need to take extra care of it. Pregnancy often brings along swollen and bleeding gums, plaque and other dental issues. It is a wise idea to consult with your doctor if you are prone to any of these.
- The common cold cannot be avoided and they tend to drain you, especially if you are pregnant. Taking over the counter medication could be potentially harmful during pregnancy so the best way out is to ask your doctor beforehand about fever, cold and the medications that are allowed.
- If you work in conditions that could be potentially dangerous for your baby, you must ask your doctor about the precautions that you need to take. If your work involves dealing with hazardous materials, you will probably need to limit our exposure and your doctor is the best person to guide you through this.
- If you have a high risk pregnancy, owing to previous miscarriages or health conditions, you might want to know if you have travel limitations. There could be chances of bleeding or another miscarriage if you have been specifically asked to avoid travelling.
- Always ask your doctor before taking any kind of supplement during pregnancy. The list of ingredients might not be as clear to you as it would be to a certified doctor.
- If you have been into exercising, there is every possibility that you can continue your regime throughout pregnancy. While it is ideal to remain active in pregnancy, you must ask your doctor if all kinds of exercises are suitable for you.
- How much should you ideally weigh is a common question at around 8 weeks. If you have already started gaining weight, ask your doctor if you are on the normal track.
- The most important question that you could ask at week 8 is what is considered an emergency and when you should rush to the hospital.
- If you have had unexplained cramping or bleeding, you could ask your doctor if it is normal.
- When is the next prenatal visit to be scheduled and if there is any test to be taken before the appointment.
Apart from these essential questions, there could be a few other discussions like mapping out a birth plan that includes natural or caesarean birth as per the situation. You might also want to know if you could have a midwife to assist you in your pregnancy and childbirth. Although these question will not need immediate solutions, but having a birth plan in place always helps.
How Can Your Spouse Help You?
If you have older kids, you might need your husband to share the responsibility or taking over their work completely. Fatigue and nausea can drain the life out of you and the last thing you want to do is tidying up a room full of toys or putting an energetic toddler to bed.
If you have pets at home, your spouse can help by taking over the care because a pregnant woman should avoid cleaning pet litter. Cat litter could potentially cause you to become infected with toxoplasmosis4.
Reminding you time and again about your prenatal vitamins, ensuring that you have balanced meals all day and letting you take naps whenever possible are a few ways in which your spouse can participate in the pregnancy.
A Few Important Tips And Tricks
1. Keep that nausea away
A colorful platter of fruits can not only loft up your dampened spirits but also fill you up with nutrition when you need it the most. Pregnancy brings along annoying aversions and nausea that can keep you feeling hungry all the time. A crunchy fruit salad with chopped dried fruits and nuts thrown in can be as filling and nutritious as a mid-day meal. Melons, berries, bananas and pears are full of nutrition and are also easy on the stomach.
2. Splitting Headaches
Now that your body is producing more blood, you could be prone to splitting headaches often. Instead of reaching out for an aspirin or an ibuprofen, ask your doctor for acetaminophen that is safer than the others.
3. Squat Away
The importance of squats can never be emphasized enough during pregnancy. Not only do they keep your pelvic floor tightened but also help a smoother delivery. Including squats from this week could be a significant step in ensuring your endurance in this pregnancy.
4. Stop Douching
If you find the light milky discharge from your vagina annoying, you could opt for panty liners. Never douche your vagina with water because the body’s mucus membranes secrete that discharge to help maintain the vaginal flora. Otherwise, you could end up with infections.
5. More Fiber
If you have been getting constipated lately, blame your pregnancy hormones that make digestion sluggish. To keep your bowels regulated, you could add more fiber to your meals gradually. Some of the good options are oatmeal, leafy greens, mangoes, dried fruits etc. Go slow with the inclusion. If your constipation gets too severe, your doctor might recommend a laxative or a stool softener. It is important not to exert yourself while excreting during pregnancy because you could end up with piles or hemorrhoids.
Keeping track of your signs and symptoms and informing your doctor about anything unusual, taking all your supplements on time and eating well balanced meals will help you sail through the 8th week of pregnancy. If you have been waiting to make pregnancy announcements at work, there are around four more weeks after which it could be considered safe to do it.