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"It felt so disrespectful." After giving birth, Jami's placenta was thrown out against her wishes.

Birth: there's nothing quite like it, and it's clear no two birth stories are the same. Which is why we're asking everyday women and some of our favourite celebrity mums to share theirs, in Mamamia's My Birth Story series.

This week we profile proud Wiradjuri woman Jami from Sydney, who is mum to 15-month-old Lily.

Registered nurse Jami had been with her husband Tom for nine years when they started trying for a baby.

"I was very lucky to fall pregnant after four months," Jami says.

"Especially as I had been told it might take longer because of my endometriosis."

Jami's pregnancy went well, but a benign tumour in her liver caused stress along the way.

"I needed several ultrasounds to keep an eye on the size of the tumours and this gave me anxiety during an otherwise good pregnancy."

Watch: We asked members of the Mamamia team to tell us what went through their head when they were giving birth. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

While Jami and Tom had decided on a 'grand birth plan', they later abandoned it once the birth got closer.

"Initially, I wanted my birth to be free of pain relief, with no monitoring, but Tom and I let our expectations go as I didn't want the stress of things not working out how I imagined. 

"The only thing I wanted to remain on my birth plan, however, was that I wanted to keep the placenta to bury on country. This is significant in Aboriginal culture to ground and connect my baby's spirit to her ancestors."

When Jami was close to full term, her waters partially broke in the middle of the night, so they called the hospital and were told to come in.

"We had been into the birthing unit a few times already with pre-labour pains, but after the assessment I clearly remember a lovely midwife called Sharon telling me I wasn't going home without my baby this time! 

"As we settled in, we told the team about the plans for our baby's placenta."

After three hours of contractions, Jami was moved into the birthing suite.

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"The pain was horrendous, but I managed to breathe with it. We dimmed the lights and got our playlist happening. It was peaceful at first but when the monitor showed our baby was in distress, they broke the rest of my waters manually to get everything moving more quickly."

After another couple of hours passed by, Jami was close to six centimetres dilated. Their baby was still showing signs of distress, so the midwife inserted a fetal scalp monitor, leaving Jami with very little ability to move about.

"The monitor's clip attached to my baby’s head was dangling down from me while they tried to get a reading. I had this fear that any sudden movement would rip my baby’s scalp off and I hated it. They couldn’t get a good trace anyway, so after about 30 minutes they removed it and decided that a c-section was the safest option to get our baby out quickly."

Once the decision was made, Jami remembers about 20 people rushing into the room.

"I had to sign the consent form and get the surgical stockings on, all while still experiencing the pain of contractions. It was frantic! 

"I then had to sit still while the anaesthetist got the spinal in and that was very hard as I was in so much pain. Tom was allowed in and our regular obstetrician arrived which calmed us both down a bit to see a familiar face."

Baby Lily was born just half an hour later on August 10, 2020.

Image: Supplied. 

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"I remember the strange sensation of Lily being pulled out. It was like someone was doing the washing up inside my tummy. I also remember seeing her head over the drapes and thinking she had a lot of hair! 

"The midwife placed her on my chest while they stitched me up and after her health checks they concluded there wasn’t a reason for her distress and that perhaps she was just happy inside my belly and didn’t want to come out!"

Jami felt relieved that Lily was okay and that it was all over. Once in the recovery bay, she asked the nurse about her placenta. 

"The nurse didn't know what we were talking about so she went to ask what happened. After realising the placenta was thrown in the clinical waste bin, she fished it out to show us.

"I was really confused about what had happened as this was the only thing I had requested as part of my birth plan and it felt so disrespectful. I couldn’t get over the fact it had been so carelessly thrown out and as a nurse, I know what goes into those clinical waste bins.

"I no longer wanted it and so I tried to put it to the back of my mind."

The rest of Jami’s hospital stay was distressing as there were no beds available so she had to stay in a tiny isolation room with no room for her husband Tom.

"Those first few days really upset me. Looking back now I wonder how much that affected what came next."

The couple took baby Lily home on day three, and Jami felt immediately overwhelmed.

"Lily didn’t stop crying for six months. I wasn’t sleeping, so dealing with all the basics like shopping and cleaning felt too hard. 

"On top of feeling anxious, I kept having this cycle of negative thoughts that would spiral out of control. I couldn’t drive because I would imagine car crashes, [and I couldn't] even walk outside because I would be so paranoid about bad things happening to us. But then not going out made it worse and she would only stop crying when I walked with her in the sling."

Jami recalls that her body was exhausted and in pain from all the walking. She didn't know what to do, and she was too embarrassed to ask her mum for help. 

"At my regular family health nurse and GP check ups, they would ask about Lily, but I felt like I wasn’t being listened to. 

"I was crying all day and I would also get incredibly angry at Tom about the smallest things. One day, when close to a total breakdown, I nearly shook Lily while she was screaming. 

"I walked away leaving her safe in her cot, but then I rang Tom to say, 'You need to come home now.'"

Image: Supplied. 

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Jami rang the Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) helpline and spoke to a woman who stayed on the line until Tom arrived home. 

Jami and Tom also discovered the Gidget Foundation in Sydney and Jami was put on a course of medication and given access to regular therapy. 

"It felt like my life had been saved and that someone was finally listening. The support made everything easier to manage as did the acknowledgement that things had not been okay. 

"I had spent a lot of time ruminating on the placenta care and whether or not my c-section had impacted how it had been thrown away. I often wondered if things would have been done differently if I had a vaginal delivery."

As part of her road to recovery, but without the placenta to use in the rebirthing ceremony, Jami is going to use a piece of Lily's umbilical cord instead.  

"It is so important in Aboriginal culture to connect and ground your spirit with your ancestors and I hope to do this for Lily on my nanna’s farm in the Hunter Valley region in the new year. 

"I would say to other First Nations women who are pregnant to ensure they contact the hospital’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer who can advocate for you during your birth to ensure your wishes are met.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

Feature Image: Supplied.