Women's Healthcare Topics

8 Weeks Pregnant

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

You are definitely starting to grow by 8 weeks pregnant. Though your uterus continues to expand, it is likely that you still are not showing much on the outside. This is particularly true of first time moms, though you will likely start feeling some tightening along your waistline.

Your healthcare provider might tell you that your uterus is now about the size of a grapefruit. That is a lot of progress from its pre-pregnancy state, where it was smaller than a plum!

Your waistline may seem larger to you, but onlookers won't be able to tell that you're pregnant. If you're a first-time mother, you won't be showing until your second trimester. Women who have given birth before, or pregnant women carrying twins or multiples, might be showing a little.

Though you're not showing a bump yet, you'll be struggling with many uncomfortable early pregnancy symptoms. It's common for pregnant women to be struggling with fatigue, some nausea or vomiting, mild abdominal cramping, lower backache and breast changes this week.

Abdominal Cramping
Mild abdominal cramping is a normal pregnancy symptom at 8 weeks pregnant. Although cramping is always concerning, especially for women who have never been pregnant before, mild abdominal cramps isn't anything to worry about.

In general, if you have unusual abdominal pain or cramping that is painful or persistent, or is accompanied with bleeding, contact your doctor right away. This may be a sign of a miscarriage or another serious pregnancy problem.

Lower Backache
Lower backaches are another common pregnancy symptom. You can blame the pressure of your growing uterus on the low part of the spine. You may also experience a sharp pain in your buttocks and along the side of your thigh as well. This is due to the uterus placing pressure on the sciatic nerve that innervates the buttocks and side of your leg. All of these discomforts are common, and just a side effect of carrying a baby.

Food Aversions
Food aversions are also a normal symptom. Food aversions often accompany morning sickness. If you're finding that you're quite nauseous, you may find that the smells of certain foods make you gag. Even the thought of eating specific foods might make you want to throw up.

Food Cravings
On the other hand, if you are one of the lucky ones and you're not struggling with morning sickness, you may start to experience food cravings. You may find that you're starving all the time, and you can't wait to dig into that tub of ice cream. Food cravings are a fun part of pregnancy, so enjoy this pregnancy symptom if it strikes you!

Breast Changes
During the early weeks of pregnancy, you may have noticed that your breasts or nipples felt sore and tender to the touch. It's not uncommon for breasts to increase by two inches or three pounds during pregnancy!

As you continue your pregnancy week by week, your breasts will continue to grow. By the end of the first trimester, don't be too surprised if you've grown an entire bra cup size! Your husband or partner may be very happy with this new growth, but touching may be off-limits as your breasts will continue to be very tender to the touch. Breast tenderness is often described as similar to how your breasts may feel before you have your period, only more swollen, tingly, and sensitive.

You may want to start thinking about pregnancy maternity bras. They have extra clasps in the back and larger cups to accommodate your growing size. These bras may be more comfortable than traditional bras with underwire. A nighttime maternity bra is also a good idea to help support your breasts during the nighttime hours.

Another Breast Change: Montgomery's Tubercles
Pregnancy doesn't just affect your breast size. Your nipples and areola (the darker skin around the nipple) will also change. Both your nipples and areolas may get bigger and darker. Pretty soon, you may start to notice little bumps on your areolas becoming more prominent. These are called "Montgomery's tubercles," and they become very noticeable during pregnancy. You may also begin to notice that you can see blue veins underneath the skin of your breasts.

Pregnancy hormones are to blame for these pregnancy breast changes. During pregnancy, your breasts are preparing for breastfeeding. The fatty layer of your breasts is thickening as the number of your milk glands increases.

Weight Gain at 8 Weeks Pregnant

Your weight gain at 8 weeks pregnant is roughly one to three pounds. Some women will gain more, and others less. Remember that just like each individual baby is different, each pregnancy is different.

Your morning sickness might make it hard for you to gain the weight you desire. Don’t fret - once you reach the second trimester, this nausea and vomiting will go away and you will start to steadily gain a pound with each passing week.

Baby Section

Mom and baby at 8 weeks pregnant

Growth and Development of Baby

At 8 weeks pregnant, your baby is now 0.63 inches from crown to rump. This is comparable in size to a boysenberry. His or her head is huge relative to the rest of the body, due to rapid brain development. As you progress through your pregnancy, your baby will slowly become more proportional.

Your waist and tummy continue to pooch slightly this week, as your baby grows larger in utero. The baby's yolk sac is shrinking, and the placenta is starting to take over support functions.

The umbilical cord now is beginning to transport nutrients to the baby and removing wastes.

Your baby's nose and the ears are developing. The tip of your baby's nose is already formed by now! If you were to peek inside your uterus, you'd see a few small bulges on the side of the head, and these will eventually form your baby's outer ear.

Your baby's eyes are becoming larger and pigmenting. The eyelids are in their beginning stages this week, but it won't be long before they cover his or her beautiful eyes.

Your baby's lungs continue to develop this week. They will continue to mature throughout the length of your pregnancy. The lungs are the last organs to mature. In most babies, they don't mature until 37 weeks of pregnancy. That's why so many premature babies require respiratory care.

Up until now, your baby had a small tail (which is really the spinal cord). This "tail" starts to disappear, as the baby's spine is starting to straighten.

Your little one's elbows are now distinct, and his or her arms and legs are lengthening. Fingers and toes are beginning to form, but they are still webbed.

Pregnancy Health Section

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is a very common symptom of pregnancy affecting the majority of pregnant women, although not every woman will experience it in the same way and to the same degree. Some women may feel it in the morning and some more at night, while a majority of women experience it throughout the day. Others might find their morning sickness triggered by certain things, such as when they position their body a certain way or smell a particular scent. Others may have only fleeting, passing moments of it.

If there's any positive aspect to dealing with nausea and vomiting, it may be the fact that research shows that women who have these symptoms, appear to experience fewer pregnancy complications. Why is that? Researchers are not certain, just as they are not quite sure of the underlying causes of morning sickness, it is believed that the body's adjustment to changes in hormone levels may be one of the factors contributing to morning sickness.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum
For a smaller percentage of women, morning sickness comes in a more severe, chronic form, which makes pregnancy a less than glamorous journey. They may experience frequent and severe cases of vomiting, which results in losing weight. This severe morning sickness is termed Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Women who suffer from this will need to be careful not to become dehydrated..

You should check in with their OB/GYN if you have cramping or abdominal/pelvic pain, cannot keep food or liquids down for 12 hours or more, chronically vomiting or if blood is spotted in your vomit, and if you are showing any signs that you are suffering from dehydration (which may include: feeling lightheaded, golden or brown colored urine, and an inability to urinate).

Tips to Lessen Morning Sickness Symptoms
For women who are eager to alleviate their symptoms, it's important to note that there is no way to totally eradicate the symptoms of morning sickness, but there are ways to minimize their effects. Here are a few tips:

eat small meals to avoid nausea in pregnancy.

Eat and drink frequently, but in small amounts as soon as you are hungry or thirsty. An empty stomach is more likely to get "upset" than one that is full. Eating small mini-meals during the day, instead of three full meals. Eat six smaller meals throughout the day.

Avoid Spicy Foods in pregnancy and avoid heartburn.

Avoid food triggers. If certain smells make you sick to your stomach, try to avoid them. Avoid foods that are spicy. Stick to eating bland foods.

Drink clear, cold liquids for indegestion relief.

Drink clear cold liquids (such as lemonade, ginger ale). Drink plenty of fluids. Consume more fluids during the hours that you are least nauseous. Seltzer and sparkling water may help calm your stomach.

Take prenatal vitamins at bedtime to avoid heartburn.

Take your prenatal vitamins at bedtime rather than at the start of the day if they trigger your nausea.

Cook with Ginger for nausea relief.

Cook with ginger (which has been found to alleviate nausea and vomiting). You may want to snack on ginger cookies or ginger tea. If you are up for it, you can even nibble on fresh ginger.

Pregnancy Accunpuncture does help with nausea in pregnancy.

Try acupuncture, hypnosis, or acupressure. This may help before you try medications.

If you are really struggling through your pregnancy because of your bouts with nausea and vomiting, medications are indeed an alternative. There are certain medications that may alleviate all or some of these symptoms, and they are considered relatively safe to both you and your baby during your pregnancy.

Take a supplement of vitamin B6, but no more than 100mg daily. Vitamin B6 has been linked to decreasing nausea in early pregnancy. Speak to your physician about the various medications available and their potential side effects and risks.

Some of these medications include: Doxylamine, Promethazine, Metoclopramide, and Ondansetron. For those women who develop heartburn during pregnancy, there are also antacids to help curb reflux symptoms, which may trigger morning sickness symptoms.

Pregnancy is a wonderful journey although it may present you with various challenges along the way. Be sure to see your OB/GYN during your pregnancy and to keep him or her up-to-date as to how you are feeling. Especially if you are feeling miserable, it's important to let your doctor know how you are doing as there are various strategies that can be employed to help make your pregnancy less taxing until you are ready to deliver your little bundle of joy.

Recommended Related Reading

Pregnancy Complication: Miscarriage

Miscarraige happens very frequent around 20% of pregnacies end with a miscarriage.

Many women worry about miscarriage during the early weeks of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, miscarriage is actually somewhat common. About 8 to 20% of pregnant women will have a miscarriage before 20 weeks of pregnancy; 80 percent of these occur in the first 12 weeks.

Some common causes of miscarriage include chromosomal abnormalities (genetic problems). With genetic causes of miscarriage the fetus begins to develop but then stops growing. Miscarriage is also seen if the mother has certain medical problems, such as poorly controlled diabetes. Abnormally shaped uterus can also give rise to a miscarriage.

The most common symptoms of a miscarriage are vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal pain or cramping.

Not all bleeding is a sign of miscarriage. In fact, bleeding early in pregnancy may simply be the result of strenuous physical activity or irritation of the cervix after sexual intercourse. Resting and abstaining from intercourse may be all that is needed to stop the bleeding. In some cases bloody discharge may indicate a threatened rather than a true miscarriage.

The more cramping you are having along with vaginal bleeding the more worrisome the possibility of a miscarriage. Your healthcare provider will perform an ultrasound to evaluate the well-being of your baby if you have bleeding accompanied with cramping. If your baby's heart is beating and no sign of bleeding behind the afterbirth is noted, your physician will likely try to reassure you that everything is going to be alright. Your healthcare provider may recommend bed rest until the bleeding stops.

Unfortunately the ultrasound can also reveal that there is no fetal heart beat, and when this happens it can be devastating. In some cases you may go on to have a spontaneous miscarriage that is complete, meaning you will pass the pregnancy with no intervention. However, in some circumstances it is necessary for your healthcare provider to perform a procedure referred to as a dilation and curettage or D&C because your body may not have expelled the fetus entirely (referred to as an incomplete miscarriage). A D&C is necessary in this case to preserve your fertility and health.

A miscarriage can be devastating. It is important that you know that most women will go on to have a normal pregnancy after a miscarriage. If you have a history of repeated miscarriages be sure you consult with your healthcare provider who can work with you to attempt to determine a cause.

Remember that a miscarriage is not your fault. If you have shared your pregnancy with friends and loved ones, lean on them for support and encouragement. While it is hard not to worry about potential problems, keep in mind that most pregnancies go off without a hitch, and you have just as much chance for a lovely and safe pregnancy as the next person. (next week)