Reviewed April 2014, next review April 2017
Your pregnancy: seven to eight weeks
The first weeks of your pregnancy are a vital time as your pregnancy gets established. While you get used to being pregnant, your body is busy building a baby!
If you have just found out you’re pregnant and have drunk alcohol or smoked, try not to worry. You can take steps now to look after yourself and your baby by having a healthy lifestyle.
Seven to eight weeks pregnant: your baby
Your baby at seven weeks
Your growing baby is now the size of a grape . He starts to take on slightly alien-like qualities as his head grows faster than the rest of his body. This is to make room for his rapidly developing brain.
Cartilage starts to form in his tiny arm and leg buds. The arms grow longer and flatten out at the ends. This is the beginning of tiny hands. Your baby’s heart is beating about 140-150 times a minute - much quicker than yours. A delicate network of nerves is spreading through his body. Your baby is going to start making constant little motions, as his brain and spinal cord sends signals to the muscles in his body. Soon your baby will be able to feel sensations, like temperature and taste.
Your baby at eight weeks
Here comes a growth spurt: your little one will double in size this week. He will also start to look more like a little person (and less like a creature from another planet). Your baby’s head uncurls from his body a little. He has longer arms than legs because his head and upper body is growing faster than the rest of him.
He is snug and protected in his amniotic sac. The placenta is getting ready to take on the job of looking after your baby, forming ‘chronic villi’ which will help it attach to the wall of the womb. At the moment your baby is still getting nutrients from the yolk sac.
By eight weeks, your baby is called a 'fetus' rather than an embryo.
Seven to eight weeks pregnant: you
Although there's not much to show anyone else that you're pregnant yet, your body is going through some major changes.
Whats happening to your body
Your body is preparing itself to support your baby.
- The volume of blood that is being pumped through your heart increases, making your heart rate go up. This will make you feel more tired than usual.
- Hormonal changes can make you feel sick or be sick. Although this is called morning sickness, it can happen at any time of the day.
- You may notice that you need to wee more often. This often starts in early pregnancy thanks to hormones and continues as your growing womb presses on your bladder.
- You might feel thirstier than usual in early pregnancy as the volume of blood in your body increases.
How you may feel
- Your baby is growing at an amazing rate. Right now, you might feel as though you can't possibly feel this tired for another seven months! Don’t worry, the extreme tiredness goes away in the second trimester. Even if you feel exhausted, try to stay active or doing your normal amount of exercise. It might actually increase your energy levels as well as helping you sleep.
- It can feel like a long wait in the early days of pregnancy between telling your doctor about your positive pregnancy test and having your first antenatal appointment. You may feel a bit unsure about things. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your health or your baby's. Have a look at the box below to find out what you can do to look after your health and your baby’s health before your antenatal care begins.
- Read more about normal emotional changes in pregnancy.
Seven to eight weeks pregnant: things to think about
Your antenatal care
If you haven’t done it already, make an appointment to see your doctor, or arrange to see a midwife. You can find a midwife by contacting your local doctor's surgery, health centre or children's centre. Many hospitals now have a self-referral facility for antenatal care. You can contact the hospital directly or fill out an online form to refer yourself to local maternity services.
It's important to make this appointment so your antenatal care can be sorted out.
Make sure you go to all the appointments during your pregnancy – that way queries or concerns will be dealt with as they arise. It is also a good time to ask about the government Healthy Start programme. You might be eligible for free pregnancy vitamin supplements and food vouchers.
Tell your doctor or midwife if you are being treated for any health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid problems. You should also let them know if you had complications such as pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy.
Let them know if you have are on any medication for mental health issues or if you had any mental health problems such as depression or anxiety in previous pregnancies. This helps to make sure that you get the right support at the right time if it happens again.
At or after your first appointment, you should be given a date for your booking appointment, which will be between weeks eight and 12. At this appointment, you'll be asked lots of questions so the midwife can make sure you have the best possible care during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy and work
If you're working and you think your job could be a risk to your health in pregnancy, tell your employer in confidence that you're pregnant. Once you have told your employer in writing they must carry out a risk assessment and make any necessary changes to protect your health and the health of your baby.
Things that could cause a risk might include:
- heavy lifting or carrying
- standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks
- being exposed to toxic substances
- long working hours.
If there are risks, your boss should take reasonable steps to remove them. This could be by offering you different work or changing your hours, for example.
If your employer can't remove any risks, they should suspend you on full pay. You can read more about your rights at work as a pregnant woman on this goverment website.
Telling people about your pregnancy
Other than telling work if you think your job poses a risk, many women wait until they’re three months pregnant to tell people. This is because after three months the risk of having a miscarriage goes down. If you do have a miscarriage, though, you are likely to need the support of close family and friends so you could consider telling just a few people before the end of the first three months.
||Should I exercise in pregnancy?
If you're having a normal uncomplicated pregnancy being active is safe and healthy. It doesn't have to be organised exercise. You can stay active by making some changes to your normal routine.
||When should I tell people about pregnancy
Deciding when to tell people about your pregnancy is your decision. Many parents (that's you!) wait until after 12 weeks as the risk of miscarriage lessens then
|| I'm so thirsty. Is this normal?
Find out the answer to this and many other questions that women ask our midwives during their pregnancies.
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2. NHS Choices [accessed 7 February 2015] “You and your baby at 0-8 weeks pregnant.” http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-4-5-6-7-8.aspx#close
3. NHS Choices [accessed 28 February 2015] ‘Nausea and morning sickness’, : http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/morning-sickness-nausea.aspx
4. Lennart Nilsson (2009) A Child is Born, Johnathan Cape, p.146
5. Lennart Nilsson (2009) A Child is Born, Johnathan Cape, p.204
6. RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/statements/statement-no-4.pdf
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8. NHS Choices [accessed 28 February 2015] ‘Foods to avoid in pregnancy’ http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/foods-to-avoid-pregnant.aspx
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11. NHS Choices [accessed 28 February 2015] ‘Your Antenatal Care’ http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/antenatal-midwife-care-pregnant.aspx
12. Gov.uk [accessed 28 February 2015] ‘Pregnant employees’ rights’ https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights