YOUR CHANGING LIFE
Getting bigger, but maybe not better
It's the eighth week of your pregnancy, and you're probably experiencing the same old morning sickness and nausea that's been plaguing you for the past few weeks. While a tweaked diet and taking it easy might be helping you avoid emergency trips to the bathroom, there's still a lot going on with your body, and growth is one of the major aspects.
First of all, you may find that your bras are feeling a bit tighter these days – which might be making you (and your partner!) pretty excited. Bigger boobs come with the territory, especially if this is your first child. You can expect to go up a cup size or two, so be prepared to buy new bras for the duration of your pregnancy and breastfeeding days. Comfort is key above all else – but don't hesitate to buy lingerie that also highlights your new assets.
Your uterus is also growing – it used to be fist-sized before your pregnancy, and now it's the size of a grapefruit. As a result of your ligaments stretching to accommodate the new size, you may feel some growing pains, which usually feel a lot like period cramps. Rest assured though – these are completely normal.
What else are you feeling? Probably really tired! Hormonal changes, particularly a surge of progesterone, is probably making you feel sluggish at best. Add on that morning sickness and the fact that a good night's sleep is often interrupted by trips to the bathroom, and you may find that keeping your eyes open is harder than ever. There's no shame in taking naps!
YOUR BABY THIS WEEK
From blueberry to raspberry
Picture your little one as a raspberry ripening in your uterus – that's how big he or she is this week! While the fetus still looks a bit reptilian (webbed fingers and toes have sprouted by now and there are remnants of a tail), big changes are continually being made.
At this point, the eyelids, nose, upper lip, and even the taste buds on your baby's tongue have started to form. In addition, breathing tubes have started growing from his or her throat down to the branches of the developing lungs.
The heart has also separated into two chambers, with the aortic and pulmonary valves finally present. It's beating about 150 times each minute – twice the rate that yours is thumping! The brain is also making great progress, with nerve cells reaching out to one another and forming primitive neural pathways.
While you'll likely be getting a prenatal checkup this week, you won't be able to find out the sex of your baby. The external genitals haven't developed enough to give an ultrasound tech clues about whether you're carrying a boy or a girl.
Go about scheduling prenatal tests
After your initial prenatal exam, which you probably scheduled for sometime this week, you're free to let the whole world know that you're pregnant (finally!). And while you can't specify whether you'll need blue or pink nursery decorations, you can take this time to schedule prenatal tests.
A variety of genetic screening and diagnostic tests are available during your pregnancy, all of which you should discuss with your healthcare provider. If you have a family history of disease or disorders, it may be worth taking the time to perform these tests. Some of them simply involve taking a little blood, while others are more invasive. Before you decide on any, be sure to ask your doctor to explain the procedure itself, the risks you and your baby might face and what the results will reveal. From there, you can make informed decisions.
A first-trimester combined screening test is one option that you may want to start with between weeks 11 and 13. This relatively new screening test uses nuchal translucency screening, which is basically an ultrasound to measure the clear space in the tissue at the back of your baby's neck, as well as a blood test to measure two proteins, so it's pretty non-invasive. It gives you information about your baby's odds for developing Down's syndrome and can clue you into other problems that your baby might be at risk for. It doesn't give you a solid answer, but it's a good way to decide if other forms of testing are worth considering.
Those other forms of testing include chorionic villus sampling (CVS), which involves collecting cells from the placenta. This can identify whether your baby has a number of chromosomal abnormalities or other genetic disorders. It can also determine your little one's gender, but it's usually done between weeks 10 and 12.