14 June 2022

Power of motherhood drives Bay personal trainer in new direction

| Zoe Cartwright
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Kate with midwife Clare Burke from The Nest in Moruya

Kate with midwife Clare Burke from The Nest in Moruya, who supported her through her pregnancy and postnatal care. Photo: Kate Turtiainen.

It’s no secret that babies change everything, but personal trainer Kate Turtiainen didn’t expect her firstborn to have such a dramatic impact on her business.

Kate is no stranger to hard work. After she finished school, she couch-surfed in Sydney while she got her personal training qualifications before moving home and working four jobs to get a start.

A couple of years later, she put everything she had into her own personal training business.

“It was nerve-wracking because I put all my savings into it, but I was confident in what I did, my skillset and that I had other people who believed in me,” she said.

“I thrived on the long hours; I thrived on the fact that it was all mine.”

READ ALSO Southern Health’s innovative pregnancy testing program receives state safety accolade

Bay Active PT quickly outgrew its first home and has gone from strength to strength.

So while Kate expected motherhood would throw new challenges her way, she was confident there would be nothing she couldn’t handle.

She had a “dreamboat” pregnancy, continued to work and began to pivot her business to reflect the changes in her life.

“I became a mum-safe trainer and sought out additional qualifications working with pre and postnatal women and pelvic floor health,” she said.

“I loved my pregnancy and labour, but what happened after shattered me.”

After just shy of 50 hours in labour Kate, in consultation with her obstetrics team, decided the best option for her was a caesarean section.

Mother and baby shortly after birth

Kate and her husband with their daughter shortly after her birth. Photo: Supplied.

Exhausted and relieved to finally hold her baby she was told there had been a small bleed during surgery, but it had been resolved.

Then things began to go downhill.

“They couldn’t stabilise my blood pressure or heart rate,” Kate said.

“The surgical team was brought back in but with a new anaesthetist.

“I was going in and out of consciousness and could hear them disagreeing about whether I was still bleeding or not.

“They reopened the original incision and found I was swimming in my own blood.”

The bleed was finally stopped but they were still unable to stabilise Kate.

She was flown to Canberra Hospital where she woke up with no idea where her baby was.

“That was the pinnacle of shitness,” she said.

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She spent nine days in Canberra Hospital, with further complications from the length of time her organs had been exposed to open air, including sepsis.

“Between the two hospitals I got six units of blood, iron infusions and was on potassium drips,” she said.

“I was told if I wasn’t as fit and healthy as I was, I would have died.”

She spent the next 12 months chasing a debriefing from NSW Health to determine why her caesarean section went so wrong.

She believes a big part of the problem is reliance on locum obstetricians who don’t have established relationships with the mothers they care for.

Kate was overwhelmed by the support she received from midwives at The Nest in Moruya and Moruya Hospital.

She said there were also some incredible women’s health physiotherapists on the South Coast, from Mollymook to Broulee.

Their work inspired her to provide more wraparound support for women in all stages of life, pre and post-pregnancy, but particularly around traumatic births.

“A traumatic birth can happen to anyone – women can have a medically textbook birth that is traumatic for them,” she said.

“It’s a unique experience and they need support and follow-up care.

Kate and daughter exercising

Kate enjoys celebrating what her postpartum body can do with her daughter. Photo: Kate Turtiainen.

“Since I’ve had my daughter I’ve become affiliated with the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) and completed one of their courses to become a community support representative.

“It’s changed how I work with perinatal women. Your body feels so foreign for the first six months that you might not flag things and could do damage to your body unknowingly.

“It’s important to have the knowledge to accept and embrace postnatal bodies as beautiful and powerful.”

Despite the challenges, pregnancy, birth and motherhood are among the most special and meaningful experiences of Kate’s life.

She wants to share her story to give other women the knowledge and courage to advocate for the best birth experience possible.

“To be able to support other women through their birth experience and help them move safely again, that gives me goosebumps. It is an honour.

“It’s much easier now to see the positives in my experience and I hope by sharing it I can encourage other women to be educated and empowered going into birth.

“My daughter has changed my life forever. She’s amazing.”

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I can highly recommend Kate. Her knowledge of the body and her caring and committed attitude goes above and beyond.
It’s not just our bodies that need training It’s our hearts and minds too. Kate has it in SPADES!

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