September 1999 Edition
This Lymphedema eNews is being generated through your request from our website.
Pregnancy Survey Results
Several months ago one of our readers asked whether pregnancy caused lymphedema to get worse. I reviewed the published literature and, as is too often the case, found very little published information. In addition, what information was available was based on very limited numbers of patients. To gain additional understanding about pregnancy and lymphedema, I created a pregnancy survey for our readers. 13 women have responded to that survey and I am including a summary of their responses and insights.
Tony Reid MD Ph.D
"I am currently in my eighth month of pregnancy and have doubled the size of my left leg. Prior to the pregnancy, I had not swelling in my right leg. Now in my eighth month of pregnancy, my right leg is swelling. I am hoping the swelling in my right leg will go away after the baby is born."
"By 11-12 weeks of pregnancy, my leg was fuller and growing uncomfortable. I was able to continue working full time as a nurse until the 20th week of pregnancy. At that point my leg was heavy and uncomfortable. I was comfortable, however, if I was lying down. During the pregnancy, I gained over 60 lbs., I was very congested in my entire body. I remember having to put my left leg and foot under cold water to reduce the discomfort. I was unable to wear any shoes other than ballet slippers, and could only do minimal walking around the house. After my daughter was born, one to two weeks after her deliver, my leg returned to essentially a pre-pregnancy baseline. My leg improved as I took off the weight gain of fat that naturally occurs with pregnancy. "
"I am currently at the last stage of my third pregnancy, and the swelling is once again more pronounced than in previous months. I tend to be lazier about the stockings this time, so my swelling could probably be better."
"Thank you for posting this survey, I would have enjoyed having some preview of the effects of childbirth on lymphedema. Overall, pregnancy was a temporary setback, which is an important consideration. However, I was still uncertain enough not to attempt my good luck with a second pregnancy. Who knows what the outcome would be, especially after age 35. My personal experience with this condition has led me to believe that insect bites are far worse for my leg. If I get bites on my left leg, my leg gets wors e, and doesn't want to return to baseline. It's as if I "loose ground" whenever this happens. The increase with pregnancy, although very substantial, was reversible. It seemed to me to be in indication of lymphatic system overload, rather than tissue scaring or damage. I did notice that as my weight returned to normal, my leg kept improving."
Many patients after reading our eNews and the various patients we have highlighted, were inspired to write their own experience with lymphedema. I have had patients send me their experience and indicate that I could use their story as a feature. Patients have told me that it has been beneficial for them to be able to share their story, and has been comforting to read other stories to let them know they are not alone. Many patients feel isolated and at times that they are the only ones suffering or have exp
erienced the challenges that lymphedema presents in one's life. To know there are others with similar backgrounds and challenges can be beneficial.