8 weeks pregnant: baby's development, symptoms and your first midwife appointment

Here comes a growth spurt: Your little one will double in size this week.

Your baby’s development this week

From weeks 6 to 10, your developing baby will quadruple in size and go through dramatic changes in appearance.

Your baby is now called a fetus rather than an embryo and will start to look more like a little person.

By 8 weeks, they will have shoulders and elbows, making the upper limbs project forwards. But it’ll be a bit longer before the thighs, knees, calves, ankles and toes develop.

Get weekly updates on your baby's development from our expert midwives straight to your inbox.

Your pregnancy symptoms in week 8

Early pregnancy symptoms

Read more about early pregnancy symptoms, such as tiredness, needing to wee more often and mood swings. 

Find out more tips for getting through the first trimester.

Anxiety after pregnancy loss

Anxiety in pregnancy is very common. If you’ve lost a baby before, this can make anxiety worse.

Be kind to yourself about how you’re feeling. It’s completely understandable to feel this why. You could try some of our top tips for looking after your emotional wellbeing.

Tell your midwife or GP how you feel. They can help support you and offer treatment, if needed. If you need more help, you may be referred to a specialist mental health team for pregnant women. Find out more about anxiety in pregnancy.

Having a safer pregnancy

No one can guarantee a perfect pregnancy. But there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of pregnancy loss and complications. Read about the dos and don’ts of pregnancy.

What to do in week 8

To tell or not to tell

Telling people is such a personal thing to decide. Many people decide not to go public with their pregnancy until they have their gone past 12 weeks. This is because the risk of having a miscarriage goes down dramatically after 3 months.

If you do have an early miscarriage, though, you will probably need the support of close family and friends, so you could consider telling just a few people before the end of the first 3 months. You can read more about the symptoms of early miscarriage.

“I told my parents at six weeks, mainly because if anything had gone wrong at that point I would have wanted their support without having to explain that I was pregnant in the first place. We told everyone else after the 12-week scan.”

Are you at risk at work?

If you’re worried that your job could be a risk to your health, tell your manager you’re pregnant. Your work will need to remove these risks, or perhaps offer you different work.

Things that may make it difficult to manage work and pregnancy include:

  • heavy lifting or carrying
  • standing or sitting for long periods without enough breaks
  • being exposed to toxic substances
  • long working hours.

If your employer can't remove any risks, they should suspend you on full pay. You can read more about your rights at work during pregnancy on this government website.

Find out more about having a working pregnancy.

Your first midwife appointment

In the next few weeks, you will have your booking appointment. This is your first antenatal appointment with a midwife. You’ll be asked for lots of information about your physical and emotional health, your family’s health, any medical conditions you have and your lifestyle.

You will also be offered routine blood and urine tests, which can help any potential problems, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and urinary tract infections. Find out more about what tests you will have during pregnancy.

This first visit may take up to an hour, so allow plenty of time.

“I would recommend writing down a list of questions/concerns and not being afraid to ask them all however rushed others seem to be. I wish I had spoken up a bit more at appointments and I often found myself going home with questions.”

Your answers can help make sure the antenatal team offers the right support for you. After all, their job is to ensure you have the best possible care during your pregnancy.

Your booking appointment is also a great chance for you to ask any questions you may have about your pregnancy and birth. For example, you might want to know about the screening and diagnostic tests you’d like to have or to discuss where you’d like to give birth.

It is also a chance to ask your midwife for your free prescriptions form (FW8) which enables you to apply for an NHS 'maternity exemption' certificate. Your midwife will need to sign it so you can get your prescriptions free of charge.

Read more about your booking appointment.

How likely is a miscarriage and can I prevent it?

Unfortunately, miscarriages are common. 1 in 5 women will have a miscarriage in the first 3 months of pregnancy (an early miscarriage), for no apparent reason. But most miscarriages are a one-off and there’s a very good chance that a next pregnancy would be successful.  You are not at higher risk of another miscarriage if you have had 1 or 2 early miscarriages.

We still don’t always know why miscarriages happen, so this makes it very difficult to prevent them. It is important to know that miscarriages very rarely happen because of something you did or didn’t do. The most common cause of early miscarriages (the most common type of miscarriage) is chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, and these happen by chance.

Many women who do everything they can to have a healthy pregnancy still, sadly, lose their baby. But there are some lifestyle choices, such as drinking heavily or smoking during pregnancy, that can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Find out more about preventing miscarriage.

1. Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week: What to expect from conception to birth, Penguin Random House, London

2. NICE Guidelines (2010) Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance National Institute for Health and Care Excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192

3. NICE (2019). Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage: diagnosis and initial management National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng126

4. Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (2016) Early miscarriage https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-early-miscarriage.pdf

Review dates
Reviewed: 11 July 2022
Next review: 11 July 2025