Welcome to Week 8! Now that you are almost two months into your pregnancy, you might finally be noticing a change in the size of your abdomen. At this stage, your uterus and baby are still tiny and well hidden under your pubic bone, but an increased tendency to suffer from bloating can make you look much further along than you are. As for your baby, he or she is developing even more visible and familiar features, and you may have already seen or heard a heartbeat at an antenatal appointment.
Heading into your eighth week, it is not uncommon to start feeling the effects of your growing uterus. You might experience mild cramping in your sides or a pain that resembles menstrual cramps. This is normal and is called round ligament pain; your uterus and the ligaments that hold it in place are stretching and expanding to accommodate your growing baby.
Some women also experience a type of pain known as sciatica, which results from an increase in pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs down your back and into your legs. This can be felt as a sharp, sometimes excruciating pain that shoots down your back and legs. If you experience this, try lying on the opposite side to relieve pressure on the nerve or sit on a hard surface with your weight shifted away from the pain.
One thing that is not normal at this stage is vaginal bleeding. If you do experience vaginal bleeding, one of your first thoughts is likely to be, “Am I having a miscarriage?” Light spotting after an internal exam is normal and not usually anything to be concerned about. However, if the bleeding is heavy or associated with severe cramps or pain, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately for advice on what to do next.
As scary as bleeding can be, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a miscarriage. Many women experience bleeding at some point in pregnancy and go on to deliver healthy babies. However, with miscarriages affecting at least 20% of pregnancies (probably more, but many occur before a woman even knows that she is pregnant), any bleeding can be frightening. The good news is that the odds of miscarrying go down as the pregnancy progresses. Symptoms of possible miscarriage include vaginal bleeding, pain, cramping, and passing tissue from your vagina. The presence of any of these should warrant a call to your gynaecologist or midwife.
This isn’t meant to frighten you. Remember that some cramping and discomfort is normal around week 8 and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your pregnancy. Stay in close contact with your doctor and make sure to ask any questions you might have.
You might also be experiencing headaches or migraines during this period. An estimated 20% of pregnant women experience migraines. If you are suffering from bad headaches, ask your healthcare provider what medications you can take to help or if there are any other methods you can use.
If you haven’t already had your first antenatal appointment make sure you book it in the next few weeks. Once there, you should be prepared to give a full medical history and undergo tests, including blood and urine tests. Amongst other things, your healthcare provider will be checking your blood type and looking at your Rh factor to see if you are Rh-negative and will require an anti-D vaccination later in pregnancy; as well as screening for STDs including HIV.
Your baby’s foetal age is 6 weeks now. After last week’s spurt, growth slows a bit this week; by the end of week 8, the baby will measure approximately 19 mm, about the size of a kidney bean.
At this time, the features that were just beginning to appear last week are becoming more refined and “moving into place.” The eyes that were little more than dimples are slowly moving toward the middle of the face, and the optic nerve is branching and becoming more sophisticated. Eyelids are starting to appear. The face now includes a slight bump, where your baby’s nose will grow, and the structures that make up the ears are forming.
Your baby’s torso is also stretching out and assuming a more recognizable shape. The long “tail” is beginning to shrink in relation to the body, and the arms and legs are stretching in length and starting to form elbows, fingers, and toes.
“Instead of eating three big meals a day, try to eat 5-6 smaller ones.”
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