At eight weeks pregnant, your baby is the size of a kidney bean and starting to spontaneously move – though you won’t actually feel that yet (not until you’re past the 16-week mark).
Yet already, your baby is making its presence felt in so many different ways. You may be feeling more bloated, with swollen, sensitive breasts. Your sense of smell might have changed, feeling repulsed by smells you may have previously loved! You may be having some mighty weird dreams before wakening to severe morning sickness. However, you are reacting to your pregnancy, it is an individual journey, and everyone is different.
Your baby is also going through some major growth spurts. Arm and leg buds are developing, but the fingers and toes are already visible – although they are still webbed. The baby’s foundation of bones, muscle, and skin is being laid, ready for the next stage of development.
You may still be a month away from your standard 12-week scan, but even at eight weeks, the foetus can still tell you a lot about what is going on with your baby.
The benefits of an eight-week ultrasound
Many mothers opt to have an earlier eight-week scan for a number of reasons – one simply being that they are so excited about being pregnant that they want to be able to see every stage of the foetus’ development.
Though there are other, more serious reasons; for example, you may not have been feeling well, or had some discomfort, and need some reassurance that all is well with the pregnancy. At eight weeks, the heartbeat is visible via an ultrasound. Confirmation of the heartbeat can set many minds at rest.
During the eight-week scan, the sonographer will be able to measure the foetus’ crown to rump length to determine gestational age and compute the baby’s due date.
What happens if you don’t see what you are expecting?
At this early stage of the pregnancy, there may be a number of reasons why the ultrasound results are not what you were expecting.
For example, if the foetus is absent in an eight-week ultrasound, it could be an indication of an early miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening to the mother, so it must be removed immediately – this is usually done either through medication or surgery. While devastating for the parents, the earlier an ectopic pregnancy is discovered, the better it is for the mother to recover. It does not prevent the mother from trying for another baby and having a successful full-term pregnancy.
The following symptoms are possible signs of an ectopic pregnancy.
- Acute tummy pain down one side.
- Vaginal bleeding, or a brown watery discharge
- Pain in the tip of your shoulder
- Discomfort when peeing or pooing.
If you are concerned at all, then book an ultrasound immediately at one of our UK clinics.
Absence of heartbeat during an eight-week scan
If the sonographer cannot detect the foetal heartbeat during the eight-week ultrasound, it may simply indicate that you conceived later than you may have calculated. In this case, it is simply too early to detect the heartbeat (usually about six weeks). You might want to return a couple of weeks later to perform the eight-week scan a second time when you are truly at the eight-week stage.
You may, however, have unknowingly suffered from a blighted ovum. This is when the fertilised egg implants in your uterus but does not develop into an embryo. Your body is tricked into producing the hCG human chorionic gonadotropin hormone, which supports pregnancy, but there is no actual pregnancy.
During the eight-week scan, the sonographer can locate the gestational sac, but it is empty. This is a sure sign that you have suffered from a blighted ovum. In this circumstance, you are advised to inform your doctor, who will prescribe you medication to dislodge the gestational sac or book you in for a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure to remove the placental tissues from the uterus.
Two heartbeats for the price of one?
On a happier note, an eight-week ultrasound scan may pick up two heartbeats – indicating that you are carrying twins (or more)! Many parents who have a family history of twins or who perhaps have gone through the IVF route to getting pregnant may have a greater chance of having twins. The more in advance that you can learn this, the longer you have to prepare for their arrival – and the chaos they may bring!
You can schedule your eight-week dating scan at one of our UK clinics by booking here.