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8 Weeks Pregnant


Image: Fetal Development At 8 Weeks

This week your baby is now about the size of a pinto bean and begins to look more human-like. The limb buds look more and more like arms and legs and the face is beginning to form, with lips, mouth and nostrils appearing. Even toes will begin to develop in the next few days!

Baby’s spinal cord and brain are developing incredibly quickly, and brain waves are even measurable at this time. The head is much larger than the rest of the body, and this is because developing brain function is vital to regulate blood flow and so on. If you were to have a scan now, your baby’s heartbeat could be heard.

At this time, some women experience cramping as their uterus expands. As long as there’s no bleeding, this is generally normal and fine. Look after yourself and have plenty of lie-downs.
Your little miracle has come a long way – no longer an embryo, baby is officially a foetus!

I’ve heard that I’ve got to have a ‘Booking Appointment’ – what is it?
Welcome to another landmark – your first antenatal appointment! Your booking appointment gives your midwife a lot of valuable information about you so that your pregnancy care can be planned in the best way possible. So do try to be patient as you’ll be asked a lot of questions and it might even stretch to two sessions to cover everything.

When does my Booking Appointment take place and how do I arrange one?
You should schedule a booking appointment as soon as you’re sure of your pregnancy. Phone or visit your GP or local midwifery clinic, or even book online.
Usually your booking appointment will take place within your first ten weeks to leave plenty of time to plan scans and so on. GPs don’t schedule them before 8 weeks because sadly, that’s the time of highest miscarriage risk.

What happens at my booking appointment?
Your community midwife may well visit you at home. You will be booked for important maternity care sessions and possibly your birth hospital. Of course, you have the option later on of choosing to give birth at home, a birth centre, or another hospital, but that being the case, you may need another booking appointment.

You’ll be asked about your individual and family medical history, and any previous births, abortions or miscarriages.

Understandably, this may be a struggle to talk about, but try to push through it because your health professionals really need this information in order to provide you with the best care possible. If she feels it’s appropriate, your midwife may refer you to a consultant for some of your appointments.

You’ll be offered the chance to book antenatal classes, which can really help you get prepared for the birth and learn those all-important breathing exercises! Your midwife will talk to you about how you are planning to feed your baby and give you some important information on breastfeeding.

You’ll also be asked quite a lot of ‘lifestyle’ questions, but this is routine so try not to be taken aback. For example you can expect to be asked if you are smoking and about your profession (because some jobs carry risk to pregnancy).

You’ll probably have a lot of questions of your own to ask so be sure to make plenty of notes beforehand – it’s so easy to forget.

Your midwife will explain your maternity rights (for example at work) and any benefits you may be entitled to. She’ll also advise you about scans , healthy eating, exercise in pregnancy (including pelvic floor exercises) and the right supplements to take.

What tests will I have at my booking appointment?
You’ll be offered screenings for your baby’s risk of Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. Your blood will be tested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis (unless you object), and if you’re under 25 perhaps a test for Chlamydia. Depending on your ethnicity, you may be offered screenings for sickle cell disease (this affects people of African or African-Caribbean heritage more often).

You will need to have your blood taken to test for anaemia (low iron levels in your blood), your blood type and rhesus status (i.e. ‘positive’ or ‘negative’), and immunity to rubella (German measles). Urine will be taken to test for kidney or urinary tract infection, diabetes and high blood pressure.

You’ll be weighed and various body measurements will be taken to work out your Body Mass Index (BMI). A high BMI (above 30) presents a greater risk of gestational diabetes. If you have a low BMI (under 18) your health will be monitored closely due to greater risk of your newborn being underweight.

You won’t have an internal examination at this stage, and in early pregnancy your midwife is unlikely to examine you much externally either.

Possible Scan at Week 8
An Early Pregnancy Viability Scan can be helpful if you feel a bit worried or just want to make sure that all is well with your baby.

This scan is advised for women over 35, and strongly recommended for women over 40. It’s especially important to have this scan if you’ve had vaginal bleeding or suspect an ectopic pregnancy.

Early Pregnancy Scan

Early Pregnancy Scan Picture (Click image to enlarge)

Viability scans are easily performed trans-abdominally (through the tummy) at 7-11 weeks of pregnancy as long as you are not overweight or have a womb that is tilted backwards.

If you’re having the scan because of a concern about a possible ectopic pregnancy, this scan can be conducted at 6-7 weeks, though at this time it would need to be performed trans-vaginally.