Now in her eighth week, your fetus is still very small. Measured from “crown to rump” — that is, from the top of her head to her bottom, which is how the fetus is measured during ultrasound examinations — she is about three-quarters of an inch long. She is tiny, but growing fast, making minute and breathtaking leaps in development every day.
Still curled in a C-shape with her head bent forward to her chest, she is beginning to straighten out a bit and her body is growing longer. Her fingers and toes are more discernible, though they’re still webbed, and her facial features are becoming more distinct. This week the upper lip and the tip of the nose take form, and the skin over the eyes assumes the shape of eyelids. Her eyes are still set very wide apart and appear to be on either side of the head.
Around this time, the intestines are growing larger and more complicated. Most of her internal organs are in place, including her brain, heart, and lungs, although they will continue to grow and become more complex in the weeks ahead.
You aren’t beginning to show yet, but it is likely that your pants are growing tighter at the waist, and you seem to feel bigger, even if your weight hasn’t increased significantly. Given that you now have a being inside your body who is working hard to grow all her essential organs and limbs, it is crucial that you do your part to have as healthy a pregnancy as possible — and be mindful of the substances you put into your body.
If you smoke, for example, it’s wise to stop now: Smoking has been linked to miscarriage and low birth weight, which raises the risk that your baby will be born with a disability. (Because tobacco addiction is so strong, you may want to ask your doctor for help in quitting cigarettes.) It’s also important to talk to your doctor before you take any herbs, supplements, or medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
Adios to alcohol
If you enjoy social drinking, you probably stopped as soon as you learned that you were pregnant. That’s one of the most important choices you can make, since heavy drinking — or binge drinking — during pregnancy can cause permanent mental retardation in your child. When well-meaning friends offer you a glass of wine or champagne at a party, reassuring you that “one little glass isn’t going to hurt,” politely decline. Even light to moderate drinking during pregnancy may lead to learning problems, low birth weight, behavior problems such as aggressiveness and delinquency and other serious disorders, according to recent studies. Today, federal health agencies recommend that all women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or nursing stop drinking completely, since no one knows how much or how little alcohol can create problems.
“Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy,” March of Dimes, 2010.
“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Why Pregnancy and Alcohol Don’t Mix,” from the American Academy of Family Physicians. April 2008.
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow! St. Martin’s Press.
Supple, Willam F. Jr., PhD. Becoming A Baby: How Your Baby Grows From Day-to-Day. Picket Fence Publishing.
Pregnancy Calendar, Week 8, from the American Academy of Family Physicians. http://kidshealth.org/
Fetal Development: 2 Months from Sutter Health. http://babies.sutterhealth.org/babygrowth/fetaldev/bg_fetaldev-2.html
“Sorting Out Ambivalence Over Alcohol and Pregnancy: A Conversation With Janet Golden.” The New York Times, January 25, 2005.
“How Much Alcohol Can a Woman Safely Drink During Pregnancy,” Zero Alcohol, http://www.come-over.to/FAS/ZeroAlcohol.htm
“Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy,” March of Dimes, November 2008
Curtis, Glade et al. Your Pregnancy Week by Week. Da Capo Press, 5th Edition.
Shanahan, M. Kelly. Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide. Prima Publishing.