You're getting closer to the end of your first trimester and at this point you could be off your food still, or craving things you've never fancied before! Here's what to expect now that you're eight weeks pregnant.
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What’s happening at 8 weeks?
Here are the key things you can expect from your pregnancy at this stage:
- Your baby's moving around a lot.
- Cravings might kick in.
- Your teeth and gums may become more sensitive.
- You can get your maternity exemption around now (see What to do this week, below).
How big is your baby?
At eight weeks pregnant, your baby is roughly the size of a Malteser.
Your baby is still tiny – around 1.6cm from head to bottom – and weighs just 1g but already has a mouth that can open and close. The tongue, teeth and roof of the mouth are starting to form.
Eye colour pigment is also starting to appear around now. But did you know that you won't know your baby's true eye colour until they're about nine months old? Many babies are born with blue eyes, but go on to develop a different colour as their eyes are exposed to the light after birth.
Your growing baby's tiny hands can now bend at the wrist, and feet are starting to look more defined.
You may be wondering if it's a boy or a girl but the external genitals haven't developed enough to reveal your baby's sex yet. It's still your baby's secret to keep until a later scan can detect whether it's a girl or a boy.
In the meantime, you can have fun guessing with these gender prediction tests (just for fun!)
Although your baby is moving around a lot, it's unlikely that you'll feel it just yet.
What's going on with your body?
It’s the tricky in-between stage: no obvious bump to warrant maternity clothes, yet your waist may be getting big enough to make your jeans feel uncomfortable.
Elasticated waists are a godsend, as are leggings, tunics and floaty dresses. Find out where to buy the best maternity clothes .
Your boobs could have gone up a couple of cup sizes by now. Don't worry, they probably won't go up much more than that. Just make sure you have a supportive and comfortable maternity bra to wear.
Tiredness and exhaustion can kick in around now, if it hasn't already. The good news is it'll probably be linked to an increase of pregnancy hormones and should settle down or disappear once you hit the second trimester, which is only a few weeks away now.
The second trimester is often also the end of pregnancy sickness for many women. It's the time of the fabled pregnancy 'glow', so if pregnancy symptoms have been making your life difficult so far, just hang in there! Things are likely to start getting better within the next few weeks.
What to expect this week: your booking appointment
You should ideally have your first appointment with a midwife – known as your booking appointment – before you're 10 weeks pregnant. That means it's probably coming up in the next couple of weeks.
So what can you expect?
The booking appointment is pretty lengthy – it usually takes about an hour – as there’s a lot to cover:
Your midwife will ask lots of questions about you, your partner and your family’s medical history, so it’s a good idea to ask your parents and your partner if there's any history of illness that you're not aware of.
This is because some conditions may be genetic, in which case these will be checked for in your developing baby.
Health checks and screening
Your midwife should check your height and weight, and also take your blood pressure . This will be used as a baseline for comparison during your pregnancy.
Your blood pressure may be elevated if you're nervous or stressed, so try to go along to the appointment relaxed, if you can.
Depending on your medical history, your midwife may want to take bloods from you to check for:
- your haemoglobin and platelet levels (for clotting)
- your blood group and rhesus status
- your rubella status
- hepatitis B
- thalassaemia (inherited conditions that affect the blood)
- sickle cell disease
Your midwife will ask you for a urine sample at this, and all further antenatal appointments, so she can check for:
- Ketones – these are excreted by your body if you're not eating enough nutrients and it has to break down fat. You may also have ketones if you have been sick or are exercising excessively, or if you are developing gestational diabetes .
- Glucose – this may be a sign of diabetes or kidney disease. If you eat something sweet before you produce your sample then glucose may be detected in your urine.
- Protein – this may be a sign of infection, but may also be a sign other problems, such as pre-eclampsia , so needs to be investigated.
This is also the time when your midwife will give you your antenatal notes : an A4 book that contains and records all the important information about your pregnancy, from now until you have the baby.
You’ll have to bring them to every antenatal appointment, and take them with you if you travel away from home, too – so don’t lose them!
The midwife will ask lots of questions about your general health, such as whether you smoke , drink or take drugs. It's always best to be honest; your midwife won't judge you, and she needs to know the truth so she can help you protect your baby.
They may also ask you questions about mental health or domestic abuse. Don’t be offended by this.
Domestic abuse, which may include both physical, verbal or emotional abuse, has been found to start and, in some cases, get worse in pregnancy, so it has become a routine question to ask all pregnant women.
(If you are suffering any domestic abuse and would like to chat to someone now, head to our Coffeehouse chat forum .)
Good to know
The appointment may be at your own home, a hospital, GP surgery or local Children's Centre.
Your midwife will run through your appointment schedule; the next one is due at around 12 weeks for your first ultrasound scan.
Before you leave, make sure you've asked any questions and know who to contact if you have any further concerns about your pregnancy.
What to do this week: book a dentist appointment
The dentist may not be top of your list of people to catch up with, but as dental care is free in pregnancy (and for a year after the birth of your baby), at least you won’t be paying for the privilege.
To get your free dental care, you'll need to have got your maternity exemption certificate. You can do this by filling out a maternity exemption form (FW8) – available from your doctor or midwife. They’ll send it off for you and you’ll get your NHS Maternity Exemption card in the post that you can carry around with you.
Not only does it cover dental appointments, but all your prescriptions will be free, too. The card is valid throughout your pregnancy and your baby's first year, up to one year after your due date.
You may well find that you need to see your dentist more during pregnancy anyway, so it's a good job it's free.
This is because some of the hormones associated with pregnancy can cause soft, sore, inflamed or bleeding gums – and these can, in turn, lead to gum disease.
Self-help for sore gums
Prevention is better than cure, so it's always best to take extra care of your teeth while you're pregnant. That means flossing or using interdental brushes daily, as well as brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. If your gums are bleeding, you may prefer to use a softer toothbrush.
You can also try a daily salt rinse to relieve gum inflammation - add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water, swill it round your mouth and spit it out. Don't use mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
The dental treatments open to you in pregnancy are somewhat limited. As you’re unlikely to have a noticeable bump, it’s a good idea to let your dentist know you’re pregnant before he starts any treatment.
Medical procedures, such as root-canal work and even fillings, are best left until after the birth if at all possible because of the associated risk of infection.
However, in other cases, it's safest to get the treatment right away. Your dentist will help you make the right call for yourself and your baby.
It’s thought that amalgam fillings might pose a threat to your unborn baby because of their mercury content, which could enter your bloodstream and cross the placenta, or pass to your baby via your breastmilk, so you’re likely to get is a temporary filling to tide you over.
The Department of Health advises that amalgam fillings shouldn't be removed during pregnancy.
If you have a permanent white filling instead, you may be charged for it.
X-rays are to be avoided wherever possible in pregnancy – although if you are unfortunate enough to need emergency surgical work on your teeth you’ll probably need to have at least one.
There’s a special barrier apron you’ll be covered with if you do need any, which should protect you and your baby from the radiation.
Your 8 week to-do list
1 Have you joined your due date club in the Netmums forum yet? It's the perfect chance to meet other expecting parents due at the same time as you, and share your pregnancy journey with people who know exactly what you're going through.
2 Apply for your maternity exemption certificate (via your GP or at your next midwife appointment) if you don't already have one.
3 If you do any exercise , don't overdo it, or overstretch. Your body is producing relaxin, which helps everything stretch when it needs to in labour (to get the baby out). But there's no reason why you can't carry on with your regular exercise regime as long as you stop if you feel uncomfortable.
4 Increase your fibre intake – it’s very normal to feel constipated , as your digestive system also relaxes around this time so stock up on (and eat) lots of fruit and veg. Keep drinking plenty of water, too.
5 Buy a birthing ball – they're great for sitting on during pregnancy and handy for labour, too.
What to watch this week...
Get expert tips on what to expect at 8 weeks pregnant from our midwife.
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