Pregnant with lipoedema: Experiences with the mediven cosy and optimized maternity panty top.

How does lipoedema influence the course of pregnancy? How does pregnancy influence lipoedema? And: What influence does pregnancy have on therapy? Lipoedema patient Vanessa Gerats shares her experiences.

Vanessa Gerats reports on her pregnancy with lipoedema.

mediven cosy for pregnant lipoedema patients Well wrapped up, while your baby bump grows

For women like Vanessa Gerats, who suffer from lipoedema, a pregnancy gives rise to many questions – including whether the therapy with medical compression can be continued without problems. In an interview, Vanessa Gerats explains the affect that the condition had on her pregnancy. She also tells us how the medical compression stockings mediven cosy with the special maternity panty top make her everyday life easier.

Vanessa Gerats’ motivation: Take away the fear of the condition lipoedema by “dispelling myths” and empowering other sufferers

Ms Gerats, first of all, congratulations on the birth of your son. How did you feel during your pregnancy?

“In principle, good. During the first twelve weeks, however, I felt weak and exhausted – in the second trimester, this feeling diminished. My midwife told me that this tiredness is normal – the body is getting used to its new role as a mother. Your hormone balance changes, your blood supply increases and your metabolism is working at full speed. Towards the end of the first trimester, I had a small lipoedema episode in which I had more pain in my legs for two weeks.”

What did you do to combat this?

“The manual lymph drainage that I receive once a week really helped. I also massaged the tissue regularly myself, which also alleviated the symptoms.”

For how long have you known that you suffer from “lipoedema”?

“I received the diagnosis three years ago in spring 2020. I had been suffering from pressure and discomfort symptoms since puberty, and since I had been prescribed the pill. It was noticeable that since regularly taking the pill, my thighs had become much wider although my stomach and waist had stayed the same – within three months, I put on twelve kilos in weight. However, it is not clinically proven that lipoedema can be caused by hormonal contraceptives. It was a difficult time for me – I was exposed to some prejudice and hostility from my classmates. Unfortunately, I did not dare to wear the clothes I liked. I only wore trousers as they at least went over the knee. I didn’t have the confidence that I have today!”

Did you notice other symptoms apart from a feeling of pressure and painful tightness?

“My legs got cold incredibly quickly, especially during walks in winter; they ached and only returned to a normal temperature many hours later. I always thought that I simply had tissue with poor blood circulation.”

How did you receive the diagnosis of “lipoedema”?

“I was in the sauna with my sister-in-law and she raised the issue sensitively, since she knew the clinical picture from a friend. She said that I had such a slim figure but that my legs did not fit the rest of the body. At home, I immediately studied the clinical picture on the internet, as well as the therapy options. When I saw photos of lipoedema in the third stage and understood that the condition is incurable, I was shocked. During my further research, I came across the website of Caroline Sprott, also a lipoedema sufferer. I loved her colourful photos with medical compression products! The looks were fashionable and Caroline radiated an amazing self-confidence and cheerfulness. And then I thought, even if the diagnosis is true, I’m going to manage my condition and enjoy life!”

After the diagnosis: Together we can do it!

Was this the same for you?

"When my vascular surgeon confirmed the diagnosis, I felt helpless for a short time and wept in the car park outside the clinic. But the support of my family was incredible – my husband in particular always has a sympathetic ear and was optimistic and extremely understanding. He said I should go along with the therapy and be good to myself. He loves me as I am – together we can do it! I then also specifically searched online for other sufferers and discovered Vanessa Reins’ page, “Round and sporty”. To see how much positive life energy other sufferers radiate was both encouraging and inspiring.”

Increasing your self-confidence: Being bold enough to wear colours and patterns in medical compression therapy

Did you also select a trend colour for your first medical compression?

“No, I wasn’t quite as courageous as that. I received comprehensive advice at the medical supply store, which included advice on accessories, and I finally decided on skin-coloured mediven cosy stockings with a closed toe. My husband would have preferred the more striking colours, but I had to feel my way slowly. I now love the expressive mediven colours! My favourite was the latest trend colour mango yellow! But raspberry red is also a highlight. Now, my colours can’t be striking enough and I am also bold enough to wear design and fashion elements.”

You talked about manual lymph drainage at the beginning – did you first get it prescribed during pregnancy or after you were diagnosed?

“After the diagnosis, I read all the literature I could find about lipoedema. I wanted to use all the opportunities there were to deal with the condition better. That is why, with the support of my doctor, I applied to Deutsche Rentenversicherung for an inpatient rehabilitation course, which was approved immediately. The focus of the rehabilitation was primarily on an intensive form of complex physical decongestion therapy with manual lymphatic drainage​​​​​​​, wrap bandaging and skin care – supported by nutrition and exercise therapy as well as psychological support. Owing to the discharge report, my family doctor prescribed me manual lymphatic drainage once a week, and I've been happy to take advantage of that ever since.”

Do you pay explicit attention to your diet due to your lipoedema?

"Yes, my husband and I mainly follow a vegetarian diet and try to eat in a healthy and balanced way. I have been going to the beautician regularly for three years and received the tip from her that foods such as pork, dairy products and wheat can promote inflammation in the body. We attach great importance to high–quality and fresh food – fruits, vegetables and whole grains are regularly on our plate. And I notice how much good the adjustment is doing me and my body. But every sufferer should decide this for themselves.”

Pregnancy and lipoedema: Questions and worries in advance

You’ve just given birth to your first son – did the diagnosis of lipoedema influence your family planning?

“It was always clear to us that our life plan would involve children! Of course, I was very worried and gave it a great deal of thought. The hormone change could aggravate the lipoedema, the lipoedema could negatively affect my pregnancy, my fingers and legs could swell more due to water retention and I might not be able to put on my medical compression products by myself anymore. However, I was most concerned about whether she was going to be a girl and whether she might have inherited the condition.”

Did you seek medical advice on this issue?

“Initially I did intensive research on the internet and then talked to my husband – he calmed and reassured me. We couldn’t influence this anyway and decided we would deal with it if the case should occur. In addition, the discussions I had with my midwife were important to me – she was a great support!”

Did you also wear special medical compression for pregnant women?

"Yes, owing to my changed girth measurements, I was prescribed additional medical compression treatment at the end of the first trimester. I was also allowed to test the optimized mediven cosy maternity panty top from medi.”

mediven cosy with optimized maternity panty top: Pleasantly soft medical compression therapy with a supportive-stretchy zone for the growing abdomen

What was your verdict?

“The maternity panty top was extremely pleasant to wear and very soft! The upper zone is stretchy and my bump had plenty of room to grow. The lower area supports well, which seemed to reduce the pressure on my hips, especially at the end of pregnancy. As soon as I took off the compression product, I had pain in my legs when moving. I thought it was really great to wear the panty top during my pregnancy – I felt perfectly wrapped up”.

To what extent were you able to do sport or exercise during your pregnancy?

“Before my pregnancy, I really enjoyed Zumba and riding a mountain bike. Thanks to the knee functional zone, which my specialist at the medical supply store recommended to me, this was initially possible without any problems even wearing medical compression. Unfortunately, my Zumba course was discontinued and mountain biking was too dangerous for me as the pregnancy progressed. Instead, I attended a weekly aqua fitness course in my midwifery practice, which I really enjoyed.” I also often went for walks in the fresh air.”

For some time now, you have also been talking openly about your condition and your pregnancy on Instagram – why did you take this step?

“The diagnosis of lipoedema is still not well known enough and sufferers are unfortunately exposed to many prejudices. “It often takes years or decades before sufferers receive their diagnosis and can start therapy. If more people can do educational work and exchange ideas, more awareness will be raised among the public about the condition. And I would like to make my own contribution to this. That's why two years ago, I decided to share my story and do educational work for World Lipoedema Day on 18 May 2021. If I only reach a few people with my small social media platform, who are able to find out more about it, I will have achieved a lot! I would like to ‘dispel the myths', take away the fear of the condition and encourage other sufferers to be open about it.”

Ms Gerats, thank you very much for the insights into your very personal story; wishing you great joy with your young family!

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Intended purpose:

mediven® cosy: Flat-knitted medical compression garment used for compression of the lower extremities, mainly for the treatment of disorders of the lymphatic system.