“My experience has shown me: It is possible to effectively reconcile oedema and the desire to have children.”
Five years ago, Tanja Krug from Ingolstadt received the diagnosis: Lipoedema, stage 1 in the arms and stage 2-3 in the legs, with additional lymphoedema. However, this did not prevent the trained landscape gardener from leading a self-determined and active life; on the contrary: Tanja Krug is active in her local “Schützenverein” (rifle association) and enjoys spending free time with friends. As an author of the blog www.lipoedemmode.de/en, she openly shares her experiences and encourages others who find themselves affected. Then along came a new and very special phase in Tanja Krug's life: The 32-year-old and her husband had their first child.
Ms Krug, did the diagnosis of lipo-lymphoedema influence your family planning?
“Yes. My husband and I have had many long discussions on the subject. We discussed the possible consequences of changes in hormone levels. And we both decided together that we still wanted to start a family. I don’t want my life to be shaped by the thought of everything that could happen, but rather to live in a self-determining way. But we decided that, for the time being, we only want one child.”
Which physical or psychological changes did you notice with particular intensity during your pregnancy?
“At a certain point, you notice increasingly that your own body is now working for a small, growing life. The miracle is then made more real with your child’s first movements. This also marks the beginning of thinking about the coming responsibilities and life as a family. And the sense of joy also increases as the pregnancy progresses and the more you see your tummy grow. My lipo-lymphoedema has not worsened – in fact, I have noticed improvements when compared to before my pregnancy. I have lost some of my size and gained very little weight on balance. I was lucky to be able to give birth naturally, which according to my doctors was also advantageous – it prevented oedema, which can occur during a Caesarean section.”
As a pregnant woman and lipo-lymphoedema patient, how was your experience of the medical consultation on the whole?
“My gynaecologist knew my diagnosis and noted it in his file. However, he did not explicitly mention this. My doctor, who is treating my lipo-lymphoedema, was a source of courage during my pregnancy: According to her, the condition of those affected often actually improves during pregnancy.”
What therapy did you undergo for lipo-lymphoedema during pregnancy?
“Twice a week, I attended manual lymph drainage for 45 minutes, which my doctor prescribed for me. This underpinned the entire therapy and also helped me enormously during my pregnancy. I also continued to wear flat knit compression stockings: A mediven 550 stocking with pregnancy panty top – at times also the mediven cosy. For the arms, I had my mediven mondi arm sleeves on. I have been using these since the diagnosis. It was very important to me that my compression adapted well to my pregnancy tummy and could be flexibly adjusted there. I was always able to rely on the care from mediven, even during pregnancy.”
How did you take care of your well-being during pregnancy?
"Above all, I made sure to take enough time for myself and my body. I allowed myself time for rest and relaxation when I needed it. I did the things that were good for me and let me switch off, like painting or just relaxing on the couch.”
How are you doing as a young mother?
“I am doing wonderfully with my new arrival. Everything is also in hand with my lipo-lymphoedema. I only feel my legs and arms when I am entertaining the little one – lifting him up and down or holding him above my head for a long time. Our son is simply developing brilliantly and is the best present we could have wished for.”
What would you wish for pregnant women diagnosed with lipoedema, lymphoedema or lipo-lymphoedema?
“I would like to see more attention given to diagnosis in general care. Ensuring that doctors are better trained and giving advice (or at least distribute information material) on the subject would be important. For example, what compression options are available specifically for pregnant women or what can be done to support them.”
What advice would you give to other lipoedema, lymphoedema and lipo-lymphoedema patients who want to have children?
“Approach the matter openly and seek out support! Of course, our illness is always in the back of our minds when we want to have a child – and nobody knows precisely what pregnancy and the time that follows really mean. But we should not simply focus our lives on the illness and make it the centre of everything we do. And I am convinced: The more relaxed you approach the subject, the better the body feels. My experience has shown me: It is possible to effectively reconcile oedema and the desire to have children.”
Ms. Krug, thank you so much for the interview and all the best!