The early stages of pregnancy are a time of rapid transformation. By week eight, the baby's development is well underway, and the mother is usually starting to experience major body changes. Knowing what to expect at this point in your pregnancy lets you feel more prepared for this unique experience and recognize when you might need to seek medical advice.

Baby's External Development at Week 8

Week 8 marks the point where an embryo becomes a fetus. At this point, the baby is the size of a raspberry or a kidney bean and its spine is beginning to straighten. Its limbs are beginning to form, including the beginnings of fingers and toes. Folds of skin that will become ears, as well as the baby’s eyes and nose, are developing, too!

3d rendered medically accurate illustration of a fetus at week 8


Baby’s Internal Development at Week 8

By week 8, the baby’s heart is beating at 150 to 170 beats per minute. Internal organs and bodily systems are forming, including the spinal cord, brain, and nervous system.

The baby’s respiratory and digestive systems are also developing. Bone begins to replace cartilage and the muscles can now contract, enabling tiny, undetectable movements.

doctor does ultrasound procedure to a pregnant woman gorodenkoff / Getty Images


Mom's Development at Week 8

The first few weeks of pregnancy are a time of rapid change for the mother, not just the baby. By week 8, the womb is around the size of a grapefruit, and a baby bump may or may not be visible, depending on your body shape.

The baby is still inside the yolk sac, but the placenta is beginning to form and will soon replace this preliminary sac, taking over the role of providing nourishment and removing waste.

Woman holding hands in heart shape on her belly CentralITAlliance / Getty Images


Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Hormonal changes cause a number of symptoms early in pregnancy, including morning sickness, breast sensitivity, fatigue, heartburn, constipation, food cravings and aversions, and emotional changes.

A change in mom’s blood volume—an increase of 50% from conception to week 8—may cause headaches. Except for extreme cases, these are all a normal part of pregnancy and do not require medical intervention.

woman with fatigue or have headache bymuratdeniz / Getty Images


Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is very common in the first trimester of pregnancy, experienced by around 70% of women. It usually starts at about six weeks and reaches its peak around week 8. The reason for this isn't exactly clear, but it's thought to be a result of increased levels of some pregnancy-related hormones.

Generally, symptoms improve during the second trimester, although some women experience nausea and vomiting for the entirety of their pregnancy. Despite its name, "morning" sickness can occur at any time of the day.

woman feeling nauseous in toilet dragana991 / Getty Images


How to Alleviate Morning Sickness

Eating smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding spicy and fatty foods, and staying hydrated can help make morning sickness more manageable during this early period of your pregnancy.

Some women find some relief by drinking ginger ale or herbal teas containing ginger. Over-the-counter medications and vitamin B6 supplements may also be an option, but always check with a doctor before changing your supplementation or eating habits too drastically.

woman drinking from cup PeopleImages / Getty Images


When to See a Doctor About Pregnancy Symptoms

Morning sickness and other bodily changes are all part of a healthy pregnancy, but there are a few warning signs or abnormal developments to look out for.

See medical advice if you're experiencing vaginal bleeding, frequent acute headaches, fever, dizziness, or severe morning sickness that is causing dehydration or weight loss. This is important at the 8 week mark, as well as further into your pregnancy.

woman talking to doctor bymuratdeniz / Getty Images


Mom’s Needs in Week 8

The news of a pregnancy, and the hormonal changes associated with the early stages, can be a bit of a roller coaster, so it's vital to take care of mental as well as physical well-being during this time. Fatigue can be a real problem around week 8, so it’s important to get enough rest. Sleeping might be tricky thanks to all those body and hormone changes, but good sleep hygiene can help.

As much as possible, rest when you're tired, rather than trying to push through everything.

Woman sleeping at home in her bed andresr / Getty Images


Weight Gain and Nutrition

During the first trimester, most women need to gain an extra one to four pounds to support their growing baby. Women of a healthy weight can achieve this by following their usual diet, so there's no need to make too many changes just yet.

Gaining weight becomes more important in the second and third trimesters — your doctor will track this during visits. At week 8, folic acid is still vitally important— experts generally agree that expectant mothers should take it until week 12 to lower the risk of neural tube defects.

Pregnant woman measuring her waist fizkes / Getty Images


Week 8 Medical Visit

For most women, their first prenatal appointment takes place around week 8.

During this visit, the doctor will perform a physical exam, run some basic blood and urine tests, and take a detailed medical history from the parents. Then you'll have your first ultrasound to check the baby’s development and estimate a due date. The doctor may also discuss options for genetic screening, which is typically done between weeks 11 to 14.

woman patient talking to doctor Inside Creative House / Getty Images


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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.