EXCLUSIVE: Jana Pittman: ‘It’s a miracle my twins arrived safely’

Survival instincts took over after an accident at home.
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Gently cradling a suckling child under each armpit, there is no hint of the danger that precipitated the arrival of babies Quinlan and Willow on the face of their famous mum, Jana Pittman.

WATCH: Jana Pittman post-partum belly

Just weeks ago, the Olympian turned doctor and new mum of six gave birth to her premature, button-cute twins after a fall at her Sydney home.

“I was walking up the stairs with my son, Charlie, when he fell backwards,” explains Jana, whose tummy was so large at 35 weeks pregnant, she couldn’t see her feet.

“I went to catch him and, in the process, fell backwards myself, down seven or eight steps.”

The normally dexterous former 400m hurdles world champ didn’t land on her stomach, but did bang her head and graze her knee.

“I wasn’t prepared for an early childbirth.” (Credit: Yianni Aspradakis)

“I tried all day to keep calm,” says 39-year-old Jana, who found the strength to fulfil a speaking gig later in the day. “But I could feel the contractions starting during the talk, so I took myself straight off to hospital after!”

Admitting that the fall probably brought on the early arrival of her much-wanted babies hours later, the popular doctor, who works at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, is overjoyed her new munchkins are healthy and now putting on weight.

“At first, I was in shock because I wasn’t prepared for an early childbirth,” she confesses. “I had a few tears in the special care unit. It’s a different experience when they’re ‘premmie’. I’m usually the mum that gives birth at midday and is home by 5pm with the baby. With these two, I only got to hold them for an hour before they were taken off me.”

After a week in hospital, Jana and the twins returned home. Since then, she and husband Paul Gatward, 53, have immersed themselves in the joy of getting to know their family’s newest additions.

The first of the happy tears were shed in the early hours of one morning when Jana’s eldest child, Cornelis, 15, from her first marriage to former coach Chris Rawlinson, got up, fed and settled Quinlan when he heard his sleep-deprived mum struggling.

Jana’s eldest child, Cornelis, got up, fed and settled Quinlan when he heard his sleep-deprived mum struggling. (Credit: Yianni Aspradakis)

“Corr is amazing,” proud Jana gushes. Meanwhile 16-month-old Charlie, who is Jana and Paul’s first child, thinks the twins are his kids.

“I’ll have one feeding on each breast and he lays between them with his bottle,” smiles Jana.

Jemima, five, and seven-year-old sister Emily, both born via IVF through anonymous sperm donation, love fussing over their new brother and sister, and constantly ask for ‘holds’.

Dr Pittman, as she’s now known, whose special interest is in women’s health, says having premature twins at home is a different experience to caring for full-term babies.

“They’re angels and amazing by day,” laughs Jana. “But not so much at night. They’re unsettled and bothered by the wind, or any other noise. Last night, they refused to sleep between midnight and 6am. They just wanted to be rocked.

“I feel so blessed to have them that sleeplessness is not an issue, plus my mum is staying over so she makes sure I get a solid three hours each day.”

““I feel so blessed to have them.” (Credit: Yianni Aspradakis)

Indeed, Jana’s mum Jackie always wanted a big family, and has provided unwavering support during each of her daughter’s pregnancies.

Both Willow and Quinlan also have derivatives of their grandmother’s first name as their middle names. 

Jana, the star of SAS Australia last year, describes her home life as “wonderful mayhem” with six kids now under the one roof.

“It has been the hardest and best time of my life.”

When New Idea visits, Quinlan manages to vomit five times on himself – and Willow once all over her cot. But their clucky and adept mum is unperturbed, expertly managing half a dozen outfit changes while keeping her train of thought!

“I’m living in the moment and determined to really enjoy this time, but that was definitely my last pregnancy,” announces Jana. “I felt 40 weeks pregnant from the 32-week mark, so I was over it.

“That was definitely my last pregnancy.” (Credit: Yianni Aspradakis)

“There was reflux, vomiting, abdominal cramping, sleeplessness, incontinence, back pain and even ‘lightning crotch’, where I’d just drop to my knees in pain – sometimes in shopping centres! But I’d remind myself a lot of my patients are in far worse positions, so I had perspective.

“The body I have been left with is the furthest it has been from its Olympic best, but I have plans to address that.”

Aiming to be at her pre-pregnancy weight in around six months, Jana wants to focus on long jump and throwing events in Masters Competition.

“I’ve got a stretched tummy, veins bursting on my breasts, varicose veins in my legs and diastasis recti (a separated abdominal wall), so my body will need time to heal,” she says. “But I’m looking forward to regaining the fit feeling I had after SAS – it felt wonderful.”

Jana is even looking at women’s AFL, despite the fact she’s managing her own little mixed footy team at home.

“They’re young, but already I can tell that Quinlan is going to be a super chilled kid,” notes Jana. “He feeds slowly and is cruising through life, but Willow is loud, demanding, more animated, and wants heaps of cuddles and attention.

“I loved them instantly, and feel incredibly grateful to have these babies – especially at my age.”

Hear more from Jana and her family life on the Bounty Australia podcast:

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