Real Fertility

Maine Doulas Real Fertility-2.png

The number of factors that need to align for a person to become pregnant and carry a baby is extraordinary.  Hormones, ovulation, intercourse, fertilization, and implantation all have steps that need to ruction properly for a pregnancy to be viable.   1 in 8 couples can have trouble conceiving a child on their own.  

A person or couple's fertility does not come into question until there has been frequent unprotect intercourse that does not result in pregnancy over a year. 

A large variety of factors can affect infertility in women:

  • Irregular or absent periods

  • Ovulation

  • Cervical Disorders

  • Blocked Fallopian Tubes

  • Age

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • Endometriosis

  • Adenomyosis

  • Lifestyle

  • Cancer

  • Blood Clotting Disorders

Several factors can affect infertility in men:

  • Azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced)

  • Oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced)

  • Erectile Dysfunction

  • Genetic disease

  • Chromosomal abnormality

  • Smoking

  • Excessive alcohol

  • Stress

  • Excessive heat exposure

For people who are trying to conceive, knowing when you are most fertile is a reasonable place to start.  A woman's most fertile window is the three days leading up to and including ovulation. 

Tracking periods and ovulation can be helpful information to have and will be necessary if a couple decides to see a fertility specialist.  A woman's cycle starts on day 1 of her period and ends the day before her next period.  Ovulation typically happens 14 before the start of her period.  So depending on the length of the cycle, determining an individual "fertility window" can be mapped.  

If mapping your fertility becomes complicated and adds unnecessary stress, having sex every 2 to 3 days can be a helpful guide. There are also ovulation kits that are available at pharmacies.  And as a natural predictor, vaginal mucus tends to become clear and slippery a few days before ovulation as well.  

Something to consider when discussing family planning and fertility is age, as fertility declines as we all get older.  Women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance to conceive then people who are older.  In the medical world, A woman aged 35 or above is automatically deemed "AMA," or Advanced Material Age, and is considered High Risk in most practices.  

If you are older than 35 or 40, respective to your sex, know that it is appropriate to reach out to a fertility specialist after only 6 months of trying to conceive, and not the full year.

Fertility and Infertility are often not discussed openly. If you are looking for a support group, or additional resources, consider including your physician or therapist in a conversation. If you would like more information before taking any next steps to explore your fertility, Resolve may be a helpful, as well as The Portland Fertility Clinic.

For more insight into preparing for pregnancy, is an excellent resource for information.  Also "Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples On How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception" by Amy Ogle, M.S., R.D./ and Lisa Mazzullo, M.D. 

Pregnant and Prepared!

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 1.23.28 PM.png

And so it begins. One, two, maybe three pregnancy tests later and they all confirm your suspicions. Congratulations YOU Are Pregnant!

Now what?  Here is a simple check list of some important to-dos that may not be priorities, but, believe us, they are important.


Knowledge is power! And an educated parent is a prepared parent. While the internet and bookstore are filled with incredible amounts of information it may all get overwhelming. Child Birth Classes are a great environment to learn and connect with peers. However, nothing is more beneficial than one on one tutoring. Schedule a birth consult with a Maternity Concierge and give yourself the gift of education and ask all the questions.  Product reviews are important when making purchases and be sure to check for product recalls regularly to assure safety.


As your family grows you may see the need for more space. Perhaps even a new location all together. There are many factors that go into choosing your family’s new home. There are resources available that provide lists ranking the most family friendly neighborhoods.


There are many ways to document your pregnancy. Several pregnancy journals are available for a wide range of prices on Amazon and Etsy or if your Crafty you can create one. Many Apps are available to help you along the way. You can track cravings, body changes, the size of your baby, funny stories, milestones including the first kick and more. These journals and apps often give helpful hints as well. Also, pregnancy brain is not a myth so make sure to write down questions as you have them so you can ask your doctor at your next appointment. 


From your baby announcement to Facebook belly bump posts a picture tells a thousand words.

Your phone has a camera, so it is a lot more convenient today to keep a photo log of your pregnancy and beyond. Belly portraits are a beautiful keepsake and another way to explore your creative side.


Before you know it nine months is over. Keep organized with a before baby and after baby check lists. They get so big so fast! It is important to make the most of every moment. Often times we can get so consumed with everything that we forget to experience this time with our babies in the world. Make a fun activity list of neighborhood newborn friendly events and destinations.

Remember at Maine Doulas we are here to support you, educate you and inspire you all along the way.

Staying Healthy With a Bun in the Oven


Many expectant parents prioritize Mother and Baby's health above all else through out pregnancy. However, with pregnancy cravings in full swing, eating for two and tons of hormonal changes happening through out your body, staying healthy during pregnancy is no easy feat! 

We have put together a list that can help pregnant parents stay happy and healthy through out their pregnancy! 

First up is hydration. Many people know, pregnant or not, that the first step to a healthy lifestyle is staying up on your water intake. Water dilutes your urine which can prevent infections like Urinary Tract Infections and more. Water is specifically important during the last trimester because dehydration can cause contractions that can trigger preterm labor.

Next up is healthy eating. We totally sympathize with your pregnancy cravings, but your daily pint of ice cream could be doing more harm than good. Make sure when you indulge in your cravings you are also reaching your proper intake of fruits and veggies. Juicing is a great way to do this for those who aren't fond of the kitchen. You can pack tons of fresh produce into one cup! 

Last is exercise. Although pregnancy does limit ones ability to be able to hit the gym HARD, there are a variety of exercises that can help keep mom in good health. Prenatal yoga is a great start. Prenatal yoga stretches and strengthens your pelvic floor and gets your body prepared for the big day ahead. Prenatal Water Aerobics with Nancy Charlebois is amazing for many. Most other exercises are safe, so long as you don't over do it and exercise with caution. 

For more inspiration on prenatal recipies, exercise options and more be sure to follow us on Pinterest! 

Continuous Labor Support; Clinically Recommended

Labor support is more than hype, it's clinically recommended.

It's no mistake that cultures all over the world have childbirth traditions strongly rooted in supporting women physically and emotionally during labor.

A strong support system is fundamental in successful and comfortable birth experiences. 

Even though it seems common knowledge that when it comes to birth, the more support the better, medical foundations and organizations are now recommending support services to their patients. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends continuous labor support to decrease the number of cesarean interventions during labor. 

ACOG also concludes that continuous support during childbirth improves the quality of the birth experience, creating a safer and more nurturing atmosphere for the mother in labor and the newborn. Labor doulas are one of the leading providers of such supplemental support during childbirth, creating safer and more nurturing environments for birth. 

This birth support can be both physical and emotional. 

Your labor doula is actively engaged in your physical well being during labor, providing comfort measures and natural pain relieving techniques. Regular massage and stretches encourage the mother's body to assume the correct form and position for labor, typically making the experience more comfortable and shorter in duration.

Emotionally, a labor doula provides continuous support with affirmations for the mother through phases of contractions and pushing. Mothers who utilize doula services are empowered to take charge of their birth experiences and make changes to their birth plans as they see fit. Doulas provide an experienced and encouraging presence to calm parents throughout every phase of labor. 

The birth experience is changing for the better. 

The role of support systems like labor doulas is being elevated and becoming an industry standard to have additional support for women in labor. The environment of hospitals and birthing centers are becoming more nurturing spaces that are effectively balancing safety with comfort. Having labor doula support is not only empowering, but incredible peace of mind for new and veteran parents alike. 

We support you.

We encourage all of our expectant parents from the very beginning. From crafting a birth plan that suits your needs to continuous support throughout your child's delivery, we are creating more comfortable birth spaces. 

With our labor support, we can decrease risks for medical interventions and reduce the chances of unplanned cesarean surgeries. 


So You're Thinking About an Epidural

Let's face it, birth can be a pain.


Epidurals can get a bad wrap from naturalists, but Maine Doulas is here to empower moms who are choosing an epidural for their child's birth. Your birth means your rules, so it's your call when it comes to the comfort measures and pain management you receive during labor.

Once you know the basics, you'll be able to make an informed decision about epidural anesthesia and if it is the right choice for you and your family. 

What is an epidural anyway?

An epidural is a regional anesthetic that provides pain relief in a specific area of the body. In this case, that area is the lower back area and below. This shouldn't be confused with anesthesia relief that completely blocks feeling or sensation in an area. An analgesic blocks pain and minimizes sensation. Most people think you're thoroughly numb from the waist down, but that's not always how the medication works. 

The epidural is often used in conjunction with other pain medications and medicines that regulate discomfort and regulate blood pressure throughout the labor and delivery process.

It's not as scary as it sounds. 

Most women think that an epidural is just a huge needle of pain medicine going into your spine. It's definitely nothing like that. 

They clean off an area of your back, numb the area and the needle they use actually puts a tiny catheter in your back. This helps them access the area for any medications you need while it's sterile and securely fastened to your back with some first aid tape. You don't even feel the piece there, but it can offer some major pain relief after you're dilated 4-5 centimeters and in active labor. And you can actually receive multiple doses as you need them.

Benefits of Getting an Epidural

 According to the American Pregnancy Association, these are some of the notable benefits of getting an epidural for pain during labor. 

  • It allows you to rest if your labor is prolonged.
  • Epidurals help by reducing the discomfort of childbirth, some women have a more positive birth experience.
  • Normally, an epidural will allow you to stay alerted and remain an active participant in your birth.
  • In a c-section birth, an epidural anesthesia will allow you to stay awake and also provide effective pain relief during recovery.

Downsides of the Epidural Process

There's always downsides and side effects to be cautious of during any medical procedure or pain medication. The American Pregnancy Association has some great resources for parents looking to investigate the pros and cons of the epidural process.

  • Epidurals may cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop. For this reason, your blood pressure will be routinely checked to help ensure an adequate blood flow to your baby.
  • After your epidural is placed, you will need to alternate sides while lying in bed and have continuous monitoring for changes in fetal heart rate. Lying in one position can sometimes cause labor to slow down or stop.
  • You might experience the following side effects: shivering, a ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinating.

Your birth is your choice.

If an epidural sounds right for you, don't feel guilty for making that informed choice. Pain management doesn't suggest that a woman is less capable than another who chose a non-medicated birth. As doulas, we support all birth choices and feel passionately about women feeling empowered to choose their own birth preferences. 

Every situation is unique and we are setting out to change the stigma of medicated birth and epidurals. 

Medicated or not. 

MIDWIFE SPOTLIGHT: Midcoast's Maud van de Wiele

MIDWIFE SPOTLIGHT: Midcoast's Maud van de Wiele

Why did I do it and why I do it now have likely evolved. I do it now because I can think of no greater privilege in supporting and empowering women and families then being a part of such a treasured and personal journey. I'm sure there is a selfish component; it is I think as close as we get short of death to being a part of whatever great spirit or God you believe in.

Read More

I'm in a Relationship with Breastfeeding; and It's Complicated

I'm in a Relationship with Breastfeeding; and It's Complicated

Depending on who you ask, breastfeeding it the most natural, exhausting, beautiful, gross, impossible, essential, painful, perfect experience of motherhood. Some take to it like a duck to water, others struggle for a year to get the perfect latch, others know from the start that it’s not their choice for feeding their babies, some pump exclusively for months before being able to feed from the breast.

Read More