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Episode 216

Turia Pitt

In this week’s episode, I interview Turia Pitt who talks about her life-changing accident and her journey to motherhood. Resilient, funny and incredibly sweet, Turia shares the details of her pregnancies and labours as well as the challenges of the postpartum period. Most poignant of all is the way she eased into motherhood with her second son, Rahiti, having learnt that lots of visitors are not conducive to a relaxed and restful fourth trimester. She’s just launched her new running program for mums, aptly called Run With Turia and she’s incredibly passionate about encouraging women to ease into running regardless of their mental or physical limitations.

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Turia was working as an engineer when she entered an ultra marathon that would change her life. She was trapped by a bushfire, suffered burns to 65% of her body and spent the following years rebuilding her body and her life. She powered through countless hurdles to simply walk and yet because of her sheer determination and brilliance, she competed in the Ironman World Championships and has since written four bestselling books.

She first met her partner, Michael, when she was 12 and she admits that she always knew he would be a wonderful dad. They fell pregnant after a few months of trying and she opted for private obstetric care with Dr Walton, a conservative OB who made her feel confident and at ease.

“I really wanted continuity of care so I wasn’t explaining my story to a new person at each visit. I had a really smooth first few months of pregnancy but I was in Darwin by myself when I started spotting and when I returned to see Dr Walton he advised me to stop running and surfing and hiking and just focus on gentler walks and pre-natal yoga. I was more than happy to slow down, it’s a really lovely thing about having your first baby…you really can slow down and take it easy.”

She wanted to have a natural birth but was also open to having pain medication if she needed it. Her OB had said that he would advise an induction if she went one week past her due date so she took matters into her own hands.

“We went driving on bumpy roads, I made eggplant parmigiana, I went and got a massage to help move things along, and I was making the eggplant parmigiana at night and Michael and I were mucking around laughing and my waters broke. We live two hours from Wollongong and the hospital encouraged me to have a shower and make our way to the hospital. I listened to the calmbirth track on the way to hospital, they put the syntocin drip in and I laboured all night and then my OB told me I was only 2cm and if I had an epidural I would give birth within three hours whereas if I didn’t have it I would labour for another 24 hours. So i got the epidural and three hours later I met my boy, Hakavai.

“Dr Walton encouraged me to stay in hospital for seven nights and I felt good being there. I could call the midwives for help and it was a really supportive environment. When we got home it was crazy. When you have a baby you have all these guests and visitors, and at one stage there were eight people in my house and I was just like: can someone just get these people out of my goddamn house. You just want to rest and relax and spend time with your baby, not look after guests. Whereas the second time around I messaged people and told them I’d see them in a few weeks time, I was most looking forward to breastfeeding and watching movies. For the first year of Rahiti’s life I was the mother I wanted to be – I was at home with my kids, I was more relaxed and I was really present with them.”

When she fell pregnant with her second son, Rahiti, Turia was disappointed to learn that Dr Walton had retired. However, she’d heard glowing reviews about a female obstetrician in her area and she was delighted by DR Gale’s relaxed yet confident care method. Turia had a really smooth pregnancy but as her due date came around, so too did the south coast bushfires. She was constantly worried that the highway would be closed when she needed to get to the hospital and, understandably, the bushfires were a significant trigger for her. Instead of sitting in her anxiety, she got productive and launched the @spendwiththem campaign with one of her friends and it literally took off within a day and left her distracted (and delighted!) yet completely exhausted.

“I was stressed because I kept thinking I would go into labour and the highways would be closed. Dr Gale booked me in to get induced and Michael and I checked in, they broke my waters and I sat on the bouncy ball. I wrote a chapter for my next book in the hospital and then the contractions grew in intensity and I was moaning and screaming and requested the epidural. Twenty minutes later I was naked on all fours on the bed, screaming for the epidural but they told me it was too late, and Rahiti was born fifteen minutes later. I found it really empowering and I felt really lucky that I got to do it that way.”

Topics Discussed

Breastfeeding exercise for mothers, Two Vaginal Births, Induction, OB

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