Jana Pittman opens up on 'heartbreaking' aftermath of twins' birth

Jana Pittman is pictured with her newborn twins, Willow and Quinlan.
Jana Pittman has bravely recounted the difficulties she faced after the premature birth of her twins, Willow and Quinlan, in April this year. Pictures: Instagram/janapittmanofficial

Australian Olympic legend Jana Pittman has spoken about the pain and devastation she felt in the wake of giving birth to her twins six weeks early, as part of a World Prematurity Day drive.

The athletics great, who has had six children since her sporting retirement, welcomed twins Quinlan and Willow to the world in April this year.

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Their early arrival however, necessitated a two-week stay in special care before the 40-year-old could spend meaningful time with her newborns.

Pittman said it had been a jarring moment, having been of the mindset at 34 weeks pregnant that their birth would be uncomplicated and culminate in a relatively short hospital stay.

Instead, the hurdles champion found herself at something of a loss in the days after giving birth.

In an interview with Channel 7's The Morning Show to discuss her experience as part of the World Prematurity Day push, Pittman said the stress of the ordeal had caught her off-guard.

“The twins have been a beautiful addition, but there’s no doubt it was tough when they first arrived,” she said.

“They were going into special care, and you don’t know what’s going to happen when these babies come early.

“At 34 weeks you think they’re going to be fine to come home with you, so it was heartbreaking to watch them in those cribs and not be able to touch them as much as you want.

“Then there are the feeding tubes, and the stress and anxiety of not being the mother you think you want to be.”

Pittman was hopeful sharing her experience would be helpful for other mothers in future, admitting she had felt insecure as a parent in the wake of the twins' birth.

She encouraged people to be vulnerable about their fears and concerns to the best of their ability, saying it had empowered her to get through things herself.

“I thought it was all going to be to plan, they’d go straight onto my chest and come home the next day,” she said.

“I cried so much and was just completely at a loss as to how to be the mum I wanted to be - even just from a breastfeeding perspective, it was tough.

“You will feel incredibly vulnerable, but the more people you have around you, and the more you talk about the situation, the better you’ll deal with it."

Jana Pittman thrilled after welcoming twins Quinlan and Willow

Pittman is already mum to one-year-old Charlie, who she shares with her husband Paul Gatward, four-year-old Jemima and six-year-old Emily, who she conceived via sperm donation, and 14-year-old Cornelis, who she had with her former husband, Chris Rawlinson.

Speaking to New Idea at the end of last year, the champion hurdler turned doctor said she was struggling to wrap her head around the logistics of having six kids in one household.

“​​I don’t know how we are going to cope,” she said, “How will we all fit into my car?”

But potential transporting issues aside, Jana said both she and her husband Paul were thrilled at the news.

“I’m stoked because I love the idea of having a beautiful, big family for the rest of my life,” she said.

Jana and her husband Paul fell pregnant after her stint on the brutal reality TV show SAS Australia in 2021, where she managed to be the last female contestant standing.

She was praised by fans of the show for being honest and open, and many were outraged when she didn’t make it through to the finale.

With Yahoo Lifestyle AU

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