14 Most Annoying Bad Habits to Ditch

Most people have at least one pet peeve. If you give it some thought, you should be able to think of one thing that other people do which really annoys you. Sure, every person is different, so the bad habits that annoy you most might not bother your friend or coworker. However, there are definitely certain bad habits that are annoying to large numbers of people.

1. Nose picking

Everyone picks their nose at times. Not everyone picks their nose in a public place where others might see them, though. Many people really dislike seeing someone pick their nose. It is particularly offensive when the nose picker picks with relish, as though they were embarking on an exploring expedition to some unknown land.

If you need to pick your nose, do it in private to avoid upsetting those around you. Bear in mind that your car is not a public place. If you decide to pick your nose while commuting, people in other vehicles on the freeway will see you digging for gold.

2. Nail biting

Perhaps it was my worst habit, but thanks God I managed to kick it. My fingernails were always short and made my small hands look tiny. One of the best tips to help with this habit is to paint your nails. If your nails have pretty polish on them you are less likely to bite them. If you do not use nail polish, then try to use special anti-bite and nail growth nail polish from the drugstore.

3. Gross eating

A lot of people cannot abide bad table manners. They get offended if someone chews with their mouth open, talks while eating, clangs the cutlery against their teeth, or makes vile noises when masticating. No one wants to hear the noise of food slopping around inside your mouth or listen to a sound that is reminiscent of someone stirring a pot of soggy semolina.

Nothing you have to say is so important that it justifies showing other people the chewed piece of steak you are currently attempting to eat. If you are eating in the presence of other people, it is worth using some manners if you do not want to annoy anyone.

4. Eating junk food

We all know junk food is not healthy, but we continue to eat it. Once in a while, it is not bad to eat junk food, but if you eat it every day, you will not only put on weight, but also feel much slower and you might even have a stomach pain. This is one of the bad habits you need to break.

5. Snacking

If you are snacking when you are bored, having any reason besides being hungry, or nothing better to do, this can also be a bad habit. Limit your snacking to one or two times a day, and try also to limit the amount of food you usually snack on. Never eat any snack food out of a box and always be aware of your food choices when snacking.

6. Repetitive noises

Some people have a bad habit of making some kind of repetitive noise. For instance, you might tap your foot, flick your teeth, hit your pen against the side of the desk, sniff, or make a funny throat clearing sound.

If a person has to listen to another individual make the same noise again and again day after day, it can start to get on their nerves fairly quickly. The repetitive noise you like to make may comfort you on a subconscious level, but it is not soothing for anyone else.

7. Picking your split ends

While this habit seems entertaining at the time, you are doing a terrible damage to your hair. When you pick at your split ends, they split more that will make all your hair split. Moreover, you are ruining the strand from tip to root so it will take a while to get your hair to repair the damage.

8. Stinking farts

Everyone has to pass gas at some point, but that does not mean that other people want to smell the contents of your colon. No one likes to smell a fart. This is particularly true of a fart that is smelled in the public domain.

Nothing is worse than walking down the aisle in a department store and finding yourself immersed in a cloud of someone else’s ghastly rectal gas, or standing in an elevator that smells like a recently-used toilet. If you have to break the wind and you know you are probably going to stink, go to the bathroom or at least do it in an empty space.

9. Saying the word “like”

This is another bad habit you need to break since it can make you look somewhat stupid and never helps you in your workplace. I know it is not easy to stop saying the word “like,” but try to be aware of how often you say it.

10. Constant interruptions

Some people just love to talk. They love to talk so much that they cannot let anyone else finish a sentence, or watch a movie in peace. When you are trying to say something and someone else cuts in all of the time, it gets annoying very quickly.

If you interrupt someone in mid-sentence, you might as well tell them to shut up because what you have to say is more interesting. When you talk during a movie, you stop other viewers from being able to relax and enjoy it. Is what you have to say really so important that it is worth annoying others and giving the impression that you are thoroughly rude

11. Lying

You might think a white lie is not too bad, but it can actually become a habit. When you are constantly lying, people can stop trusting you, since they will not know when your white lies end. Always tell the truth in every situation. After all, people may thank you for your truthfulness rather than you telling them that little white lies.

More: 10 Common Misbeliefs about Women

12. Shouting down the cell phone

Cell phone technology is not new. It is now unusual not to have a cell phone. Thus most people have encountered at least one individual with an inclination to shout conversations down their cell phone while in a public setting such as an airport departure lounge or a restaurant.

Cell phone shouters can be very irritating when you are trying to relax and enjoy your day. It almost seems as though they think their personal business is so enthralling that everyone wants to hear about it when the truth is that no one else cares.

When you must answer your cell phone in public, try to move to a quieter setting. For instance, if you are in a restaurant, go outside to take your call. If you cannot go anywhere else, at least try to keep your voice down.

13. Mindless chatter

There are some people who are obviously uncomfortable with silence. In fact, silence makes them feel so uneasy that they feel compelled to fill it with the sound of their own voice, even though they don’t have anything remotely important or significant to say.

For a person that likes their own space and reverse peace and tranquility, such mindless chatter can be incredibly vexing. If you sometimes feel inclined to converse about nothing in particular or repeat something you said ten minutes ago just because nobody has said anything for a while, then don’t. Go and read a book or find something else to do. There is such a thing as companionable silence.

14. Staying up too late

No matter how difficult it can be, it is one of the worst habits you need to break, especially if you don’t live alone. You know your body needs 7-8 hours of a sleep per night in order to function properly.

And if you are staying up too late and waking up early in the morning for a class or a work, it is not possible to get that amount of sleep. Make sure you plan your schedule so you do not stay up too late.

We all have both good and bad habits. However, some of them are so annoying that people might simply start avoiding hanging out with you. Pay a closer attention to your habits and make sure you eliminate the worst ones.

Saudi Arabia: global education union movement mobilises to save the lives of 14 young men

Education International has expressed grave concern about the fate of the 14 imprisoned young Saudi citizens convicted and sentenced to death by beheading for attending peaceful protest actions.

EI: suspension of death sentences

“I am writing to express our grave concern about the fate of the 14 imprisoned young Saudi citizens who have been convicted and sentenced to death by beheading. This strikes us as cruel and unusual punishment for participation in peaceful protest actions,” stresses Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen in his letter dated 1st August and addressed to H.E. Abdulrahman S. Alahmed, Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Head of the Kingdom Mission to the European Union.

One of these men, Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat, van Leeuwen notes, is a prospective college student accepted to study at Western Michigan University (WMU), an institution of higher education whose faculty is represented by one of EI’s American member organisations, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

He goes on stressing that the prospect of the death sentence of the 14 imprisoned young men being carried out “horrifies” EI, an organisation that opposes the death penalty, as does the European Union and its member states.

Appealing to the Saudi ambassador’s “compassion as a father and son to intervene with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to suspend the sentences,” van Leeuwen also requests a meeting with him at his earliest convenience to discuss the fate of the 14 men.

I was stabbed 14 times in the hospital where I work as a brain surgeon – it made me a better doctor

Michael Wong survived a stabbing attack while at work at Melbourne’s Western Hospital.Michael Wong
Michael Wong, University of Melbourne

The attacker struck in the foyer of Melbourne’s Western Hospital on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning.

I’d just arrived, and had my mobile phone out to ring my registrar to ask whether I had time to nick up to the wards and see my patients, or whether I needed to go straight to the outpatient clinic.

At first I thought I’d been pushed in the back. Then I slipped on my own blood and fell to the floor. I was being stabbed, over and over again. I remember turning my head so a blow coming at my eye instead landed on my skull. Being a neurosurgeon, I could all too easily picture the blade piercing my brain through the eye socket.

I remember people yelling, and the tug on my clothing as I was dragged along the floor through a set of double doors to safety and along the corridors to Emergency, leaving a trail of blood.

The full story of my rescue and the incredible bravery and people behind it – including nurses, an intern, a hospital technician and a leukaemia patient – only emerged much later.

I remember looking at my arms and hands; there were deep cuts. I remember being aware that I was breathless, and trying to slow my breathing – not knowing I had a punctured lung. I remember the look of absolute horror on my registrar’s face, as I was wheeled past him on a hospital trolley on my way to surgery.

I remember asking someone to call my wife.

I remember the pain of being prepped for surgery, the sting of antiseptics on open wounds, and asking the anaesthetist why they couldn’t put me to sleep first. (They didn’t tell me it was for fear that I would go into arrest, and they wanted to wait until the full medical team was assembled.)

Hazily, I remember waking with a tube in my throat and seeing my wife – then things fade out until I woke to the moment of truth.

I was lucky

It was 2am and I was alone, in a hospital bed. I knew where I was and what had happened. The big question, my big fear, was that I might have had a stroke as a result of the attack. I moved one side of my body, and then other. Both sides worked. It was then that I felt I would be okay in the end.

All up, I was stabbed 14 times. But I was lucky.

I was fortunate that instead of being bystanders, brave people intervened to get me away from my attacker. The surgical team did an incredible job of stitching me back together, with a cardio-thoracic surgeon removing part of my lung to stem bleeding and three plastic surgeons mending severed tendons and muscles in my arms and hands.

Wong’s colleagues’ quick work saved his life, and his hands.Michael Wong
I was also lucky to have a supportive family who helped me through the process of recovery.

My arms and hands were in splints for six weeks. I couldn’t eat without help, or get dressed. I couldn’t wipe my own backside – at times, I had my eight-year-old son helping me in the bathroom. If that’s not humbling, I don’t know what is.

Ironically, there was part of me that was pleased to have some time off from the constant pressure to work more and more hours in the resource-constrained public hospital system. At the time of my recovery, MH370 went missing, and I watched hours and hours of coverage on TV.

When the splints came off, I was fortunate to have a hand therapist who worked with me over the next 12 months to enable me to regain strength and movement.

I was also lucky to be able recover fully and return to work.

And I’ve been lucky that I don’t seem to have been left psychologically scarred – other than disliking crowded areas in hospitals, and people walking behind me.

People ask how I can have escaped psychological damage. I think it’s partly because in my career I’ve seen a lot of bad things – four-year-olds with malignant brain tumours, young people smashed to pieces.

I know bad things happen to good people so I didn’t waste time asking why, instead focusing on whatI needed to do to recover.

If anything, my experience has made me a better doctor – not from a technical perspective, but in terms of a deeper understanding of how it feels to be a patient, including the inconvenience and loss of control, the fear and pain. I came to understand that the essence of good care was time.

For the most part, I’ve compartmentalised the attack and put it away, and that seems to work for me.

Protecting staff

I don’t enjoy revisiting the attack, but as someone fortunate enough to have survived I speak out on my experiences to campaign for better hospital security – most recently in the wake of a fatal one punch assault on Melbourne cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann.

My attacker was mentally unwell. People ask me if “the way forward” is better mental health care. While that would be welcome, the solutions I’m calling for are simpler.

First, busy public areas of hospitals should have trained security guards in them. You can’t have security guards everywhere, but I think it’s realistic to expect they can be stationed in hospital foyers and outpatient clinics – as well as emergency departments.

Second, fewer areas of hospital should be public. All wards should be accessible only via swipe card access in the same way surgical theatres are protected today.

Third, hospitals should have secure entries for staff.

Hospital staff also need to play their part by taking the time to report violent incidents – ideally on easy-to-use streamlined report forms.

Management need to take the issue seriously – there’s a good business case for investments that reduce occupational violence. Dealing with violent patients or bystanders wastes staff time. If staff are injured, they may need to take time off work for treatment. Indirectly, occupational violence contributes to stress that can lead to burn-out, psychological damage and employee turnover. There are also issues of legal liability.

A Fairfax analysis of Victorian hospital annual reports in 2015-2016, found there were 8,627 violent incidents reported – almost one an hour – with 1,166 resulting injuries. While it is commendable annual reports must include this data, and other states should follow suit, the true number is probably far higher due to under-reporting.

In the past year, in my own practice, I’ve operated on two hospital employees suffering severe back pain as a result of occupational violence at the hands of patients. It’s not just physical pain they suffered, but emotional trauma. I had a grown man weeping in my rooms.

In the wake of the attack on Dr Pritzwald-Stegmann, but before his death, the Victorian Government hit the headlines with a new advertising campaign and a doubling of funding (to A$40 million) to the Health Service Violence Prevention Fund. Hospital administrators will be able to apply for funding for projects they believe will have the most impact.

While any funding is good funding, and gift horses shouldn’t be looked in the mouth, this system relies on hospital administrators to be proactive and accurately judge the merit of competing proposals. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees the money will be spent to achieve the greatest possible impact across all public hospitals.

I did not know him personally, but clearly Patrick was doing valuable, life-saving work for the Australian community when he was cut down in his prime. And of course, he wasn’t just a surgeon, but a husband and father too. It’s a senseless loss that no family should have to endure, and one that tragically further underlines the importance of getting hospital security right.

14 Unusual Kitchen Gadgets I Use Daily

The other day, I was informed by my four-year-old that I am “so old” now. Granted, she gives this label to anyone over the age of 12, but it made me think about how things have changed since I “got old.” I realized that I’ve simplified so much of my life over the last decade. I use the same ingredients like bentonite clay for washing my hair, detoxing my armpits and making tooth powder.

I use coconut oil for practically everything. I’ve also simplified my wardrobe and my kitchen tools lately (now to just simplify the shoes…)

When I first got married, I practically collected kitchen gadgets and dishes because I was just learning to cook and I loved experimenting. Now, I have worked to simplify and reduce the number of tools and gadgets in my kitchen and I’m left with wonderfully half-empty drawers and cabinets that only contain the tools I really use.

These are 14 of the kitchen gadgets and tools that made the cut and that I use daily, take on vacation and couldn’t cook without… In fact, I could probably cook practically anything with just these items:

Stainless Steel Table Pans

When we had our third child, regular baking sheets started becoming too small. I found these stainless steel table pans that are used for catering and in restaurants.

They are perfect for everything from roasting a turkey to preparing pounds of roasted vegetables to making a 12-pound meatloaf to serve 30+ people (did that last night).

I can prepare an entire meal with two of these by making meat in one dish and roasted vegetables in another and they are ready at the same time. I typically also use these to make double of a meal so we have another meal of leftovers.

These are steel, not aluminum like most baking pans, and have a much deeper lip so spilling isn’t an issue. I’ve donated all of my other baking pans and ONLY use these now. Even better, they stack and store very minimally.

I even bring them when we go on vacation. Best $20 I’ve ever spent.

Kitchen Shears

Kitchen scissors are much more useful than they get credit for. Besides opening packages and cutting up a chicken, they make preparing food for small children so much faster. I use them at every meal to cut up meat and vegetables for my babies and toddlers.

Tongs

Kitchen tongs are another multi-use kitchen gadget. They can be used for stirring, tossing, salad serving, grilling, sautéing and so much more.

Immersion Blender

A good immersion blender replaces a blender, whisk and various other kitchen tools. It can be used to make butter coffee in the morning, whisk foods or blend sauces, or even make homemade whipped cream. It also stores easily in a small drawer (unlike a blender). We still have a Blendtec and love it, but I use the immersion blender more often.

Oven Gloves

These oven gloves replace hot pads and kitchen mits and store very minimally. They also work for grilling and are perfect for wearing while cooking with a cast iron pan.

A Great Knife

A friend introduced me to Wusthof knives. They are pricy, but these three knives have replaced my entire knife block and they also store minimally in a single drawer.

Mason Jars

As drinking glasses, food storage, vases, candle holders, for canning, salad in a jar, and so much more… mason jars can replace so many other kitchen containers.

Cuppow Lids

Cuppow lids turn mason jars into an easy no-spill drinking cup.

Cast Iron Skillet

It would be possible to cook almost every meal with just a cast iron skillet if needed. It can be used stove top, in the oven or even on a campfire. Once you season it correctly, a cast iron skillet is relatively non-stick and lasts forever.

Huck Towels

These huck towels have replaced all of my kitchen towels and napkins. They are much more absorbent than regular kitchen towels, easy to wash and work as cloth napkins as well. They even use these in hospitals to clean up blood because they work so well.

Steel Bowls

A set of stainless steel bowls replaced all of my glass, plastic and silicon bowls that I used to use. They stack and store together and since they have a lid, they work for food storage as well.

Stainless Steel Dishes

With kids, glass dishes never work well. We’d broken about half of our glass wedding dishes when we finally switched to stainless steel dishes for the kids. Now, we have a stash of steel plates, bowls and cups that we use daily. They are dishwasher and oven safe and don’t break!

Bamboo Utensils

Our simple set of bamboo utensils replaced all of the plastic utensils we used to have and they work so much better.

Crinkle Cutter

An unusual kitchen tool and one of my favorites. A crinkle cutter is safe for the kids to use to help me chop vegetables for meals, which helps keep them involved and makes them more likely to want to eat what we’ve made.

14 Things to Do With Used Coffee Grounds

I really enjoy the challenge of trying to use every last bit of something. There are so many wonderful things you can make from things most people throw away. I make nutrient dense bone broth from the bones of roasted chicken after we’ve eaten it, and I love to repurpose many different items for eco-friendly gift wrap.

What About Coffee Grounds?

Something that never felt right to me was throwing away used coffee grounds. Many people wake up in the morning looking forward to their cup of joe and then habitually toss the grounds that give them this coveted beverage into the trash without a second thought.

As it turns out, there are many wonderful things you can do with these spent coffee grounds. Before you throw out those grounds after brewing up your morning beverage, give one of these ideas a try.

If you don’t drink coffee but would still like to try any of the following ideas, you can ask your local coffee shop to save you their used grounds. Just bring a clean container for them to toss them into.

Beauty Routine

Hair:

Coffee grounds are wonderful at exfoliating your hair. After making the switch to natural shampoosome people experience build-up in their hair as the hair and scalp adjust to being cleaned with a true soap rather than the harsh chemicals that have previously stripped them of all natural oils.

To exfoliate hair, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, depending on hair length. In the shower, wet hair thoroughly. Massage grounds through hair focusing on the scalp. It helps to part the hair and work in sections. Once you have covered the whole scalp, thoroughly wet the hair again. Don’t try to rinse the grounds out as it won’t work. Use your shampoo to work up a nice lather. Then you can rinse it all out. A second shampooing may be necessary. Finish with your normal conditioner or apple cider vinegar rinse.

Repeat once a month or as needed. I was amazed at how light and shiny my hair felt after the first application. If you have light or color-treated hair you may want to test an inconspicuous area. I didn’t noticed any color change but it is best to make sure before you put it all over.

Exfoliate Skin:

If you have ever tried my Vanilla Latte Sugar Scrub you know how invigorating it is. The coffee grounds and sugar gently exfoliate the skin leaving it soft and smooth. The massaging action also stimulates blood flow which is beneficial to the health of your skin. Just don’t use used coffee grounds in a sugar scrub, as the moisture will cause it to go bad, but used coffee grounds on their own have a similar effect, without the need for added ingredients!

Reduce Cellulite:

In addition to exfoliating the surface of the skin, coffee grounds can help reduce the appearance of cellulite because the caffeine has a tightening effect.

Make a simple coffee ground/salt scrub by using 1/4 cup coffee grounds, 1/4 cup sea salt and 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Mix the grounds and salt together in a small bowl. You can melt the coconut oil before you mix it in or just mash it in. This is what I did and it worked great. You can also add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. I used peppermint because who doesn’t love the smell of peppermint coffee?

In the shower, take 1-2 tablespoons of the scrub and massage it into your skin using firm pressure. Use more as needed. Focus on problem areas such as legs, belly, and derriere. Repeat 2-3 times a week. This amount should be enough for roughly 6 applications. Store in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Make Soap:

Coffee grounds make a wonderfully exfoliating addition to homemade soap. Add 1-2 teaspoons per pound of soap at trace.

In The Garden

It is commonly thought that coffee grounds are acidic but used grounds are actually closer to neutral because most of the acidity is “washed” out when the coffee is brewed.

Compost Them:

Composting is so easy to do and adds beneficial nitrogen to your compost pile, as well as magnesium and potassium. Coffee grounds are considered green matter for compost and should not make up more than 25% of your pile. If you are just adding grounds from your personal consumption you shouldn’t have to worry about adding too much. Go ahead and throw the filter in as it can also be composted.

Aerate Soil:

Scatter the grounds over the soil in your garden and till them into the top few inches. Doing this will help aerate the soil and also give plants a nitrogen boost.

Attract Worms:

Worms love coffee grounds. Working them into your soil will help attract these garden helpers.

Keep Pests Away:

Slugs and snails, however, do not like coffee grounds. Make a barrier around plants that are susceptible to slugs and snails. The gritty texture is effective at deterring them.

Grow Mushrooms:

I haven’t personally tried this but it looks like a lot of fun. Here is a good tutorial on how to grow mushrooms using coffee grounds.

Around The House

Absorb Odors in Fridge:

Place a bowl of used coffee grounds in your refrigerator to absorb odors. Replace them once a month, but don’t throw them away! Toss them into your compost pile. Congratulations, you got 3 uses out of this batch!

Remove Smells from Hands:

After chopping onions or garlic, scrub your hands with used coffee grounds to remove the lingering smell. This will also be effective at removing the smell of fish from your hands.

Weigh Down Ashes for Fireplace Clean-up:

If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, those old coffee grounds will become your best friend. When it is time to clean out the ashes, cover them with a layer of wet coffee grounds to moisten and weigh them down. This will greatly reduce the amount of ash that will float up and coat your living room when you scoop them out.

Crafts

Dye Paper for Crafts:

I really enjoy scrapbooking in my free time (like in 20 years, maybe). Using coffee ground water can add a vintage, old-world look to a piece of plain white paper. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup used coffee grounds and let them sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Paint your paper with the coffee water. Apply 2 coats on each side, drying with a hair dryer in between coats. This gives the paper a somewhat stiff, slightly crinkled look and feel.

For added effect, burn the edges slightly with a lighter. This paper also makes a wonderful treasure map for adventurous kids.

Fossil Dough:

This is great for school-aged kids. My kids love gathering little sticks and leaves when they are playing outside and they always want to bring them in and use them for crafts and little collections. Make this coffee ground dough and press with leaves, sticks, berries, etc. to make little fossils.

The recipe can be found here and uses coffee grounds, flour (just because we don’t eat it doesn’t mean we can’t play with it), cold coffee, and salt. I did find it took a bit more flour than the recipe calls for.

We made little round patties on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and had fun making impressions with the “nature collection” as my daughter calls it. They even pulled out some toy dinosaurs to make footprint impressions.

The recipe says to let them air dry and this worked well. If you are eager like my kids, you can put them in the oven on 200 degrees F for 20 minutes. Flip them over and bake for 20 more.

Reasons to Hire a Doula + 14 Questions to Ask First

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it. ~ John H. Kennell, MD

I’ve had the privilege of serving as a doula dozens of times, for many different types of births, and each time I am still in awe of the strength of laboring moms and the beauty of birth. Certainly, labor isn’t often “easy” (thus the name), but there is a lot of evidence that the presence of a doula can shorten labor and improve birth outcomes.

This is not because of some magical power that doulas have, but just something that women have intuitively known forever- that having another supportive woman who has been through labor herself and who can help take some of the fear and uncertainty away, does wonders during labor.

What is a Doula?

The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, meaning “handmaiden” or “woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a doula for a laboring woman: to serve the laboring mother and help her have her desired birth outcome.

In essence, a doula is a massage therapist, friend, therapist, DJ, court jester or anything else a mother needs her to be in labor. She is a shoulder to cry on or an encouragement when the mother thinks she can’t go on. Most doulas go through a rigorous training program before assisting women in labor.

What Does a Doula Do?

A doula is trained in labor and childbirth and provides continuous support to a laboring mother. Her focus is tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple. Doulas often support laboring women by:

Providing continuous emotional and physical support
Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices (before labor)
Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing
Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) to the extent possible in the place of birth
Encouraging the mother to communicate with her doctor and to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the doctor/mother relationship)
Supporting the father or birth partner in the best way to support the mother. A doula never replaces the very important role of the birth partner and a good doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the laboring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labor.
What Does a Doula NOT Do?

Doulas are not medical professionals and do not give medical advice. (If a doula ever tries to give you medical advice or directly suggests that you go against medical advice, this should be a red flag).

A doula will also not perform medical tasks like checking blood pressure, doing cervical exams or monitoring the baby’s heart rate. It is never the place of a doula to judge, condemn or go against a mother’s wishes. Doulas do not take over or come between the mother and her birth partner or doctor and should work with other birth attendants.

Unlike nurses and doctors, doulas also do not take shifts or leave during a labor. A doula is continuously with a laboring mother without leaving or sleeping (the longest labor that I supported as a doula was well over 24 hours). Also, unlike medical professionals, a doula does not have other patients or rounds so her single focus is on the mother.

Why a Doula?

Glad you asked… I wish I had before my first labor. I decided that I could “tough it out” and that “labor couldn’t be that bad.” I insisted that I didn’t want anyone besides my husband at my labor. We prepared with Lamaze classes and I read as many books as our public library had about natural pregnancy, labor and birth (68 in case you were wondering). I thought I was prepared.

I was not.

I was really, really, really not.

Here’s what I didn’t realize- when you try to “tough it out” through labor, it hurts more. Partner this with the fear of the unknown since it was my first labor, awful back labor and a horrendous on-call doctor and nursing staff, and I didn’t get the birth I wanted… not even close.

I also naively thought that my doctor and nurses would be there for continuous support, not realizing that while most labor and delivery nurses are wonderful and amazing people, they have many patients at once and doctors often only make an appearance as the head is crowning.

In hindsight, I wish I’d hired a doula and had someone there to answer my questions and give me support. A family member showed up to “help” but for me, this actually made labor more difficult because I was more guarded around this person (I confirmed this when that same person was there for my second birth and it was LONGER than my first). How I wish I’d had a doula.

Turns out, I would have had a better chance statistically of getting the birth I wanted if I’d had a doula.

In fact, a Cochrane review published in 2012 found that in labors with the continuous presence of a doula, laboring mothers experience:

Reduced use of pitocin
Decreased rate of interventions during labor
Less need for pain medication and less requests for epidural
Higher satisfaction with birth outcomes
Much lower c-section rate
Higher chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth
Shorter labors
The American Journal of Managed Care reported in 2014 that:

Doula-supported women had lower odds of cesarean compared without doula support and those who desired but did not have doula support (AOR = 0.41, CI, 0.18-0.96; and AOR = 0.31, CI, 0.13-0.74). The odds of nonindicated cesarean were 80-90% lower among doula-supported women (AOR= 0.17, CI, 0.07-0.39; and AOR= 0.11, CI, 0.03-0.36). (source)

The Cochrane review also compared doula support to other types of labor support, including support by hospital staff, support of a friend or relative, or partner support and found that doula supported mothers had the best outcomes. This is not to discount the very important role of family and birth partners, but to show that doulas can provide additional help to a laboring mother.

Other studies have shown that the best outcomes occur when a woman is supported by a doula, along with a supportive hospital staff and birth partner (source).

Benefits of a Doula: From the Moms

I’ve found that best reasons and encouragements to have a doula come from other moms who have experience with doulas:

I wish I would have hired one for the birth of my first child, who ended up being born by cesarean after “failure to progress”. At the time, I thought I was prepared since I had taken a childbirth class. The second time around I educated myself, switched to a provider with a lower cesarean rate, hired a doula and had a beautiful vbac birth in the hospital. Having a doula made a huge difference. She told me what to expect, helped me get into positions that would encourage the baby to be in position, she kept me calm and relaxed. I would not have had the birth I did if it wasn’t for her. – Laurie

I had a doula for my second birth! She was amazing at helping with pain relief. She kept me relax. So my husband was able to focus on being with me and comforting me in a way only a husband can. But my doula definitely made it a beautiful and empowering experience. -Megan

Can’t say enough about their value! So helpful in many ways, supportive, advocates, and it’s nice to have clear mind around when you and your husband aren’t thinking straight! -Beth

I had a doula the second time around and wouldn’t have had it any other way. My goal was to have a drug-free birth and that is what I accomplished. She helped me with my labor at home, then went to the hospital when I was nearly ready to push and delivered my beautiful baby girl! -Laura

I had a doula and I was able to give birth to my daughter naturally. Based on how my labor progressed (s-l-o-w) and the way my daughter was positioned (sunny-side up), I believe I would have ended up with a C-section. In the moment, it really helped to have someone encouraging me to try one more thing before getting an epidural. It was a really, really hard labor, but it was worth it. Super alert baby and took to the breast like a champ. That was my goal. -Lesley

Great resource for myself and my husband. It was our first baby, and we found ours through a local midwife. She was dedicated, took the time to get to know us, and our vision for our birth. She met with our OB ahead of time and really helped by being another person of support during the final month of pregnancy, birth, and the time after.

Highly recommend, especially if like in our case, it’s your first, and you don’t have any family you want to be there. Hooray for Great Doula’s! – Kristine

And so many more…

Interview Your Doula: Questions to Ask

Many women benefit from having a doula, even if planning to have an epidural or other medications. Doulas can be helpful in a hospital setting, at a home birth, a birth center or any other birth scenario but it is important to make sure that a prospective doula is a good fit for everyone involved.

Most doulas will have an initial meeting with a couple to answer questions and see if it is a good fit and several follow up meetings before delivery.

Important questions to ask when considering a doula:

What is your training? If certified, through what organization?
Are you available around my due date?
How many other clients do you have around this time?
What is your philosophy about birth and how do you most often support women in labor?
How many births have you attended?
Have you attended births at my birth location and what were experiences there?
Do you have experience with my caregiver?
Do you have a backup doula and will I meet her?
At what point in labor do you meet up with us?
How do we contact you during labor? Are you always on call?
What coping techniques do you find most helpful?
What are your fees?
Why did you become a doula?
Have you given birth yourself? Did you have a doula? What were your birth experiences?
It is also really important to connect with your doula and feel like you can trust her. She will be with you during one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in your life, so your comfort with her is vital.

How to Find a Doula?

If possible, I recommend talking to friends who have used doulas and getting recommendations. This will help you get an idea of the doula’s experience and personality before meeting with her and make the process easier.

There are also websites, like DONA International, that have a “Find a Doula” feature to let you search for birth and postpartum doulas in your area. This is the organization I trained with and I know many other wonderful DONA doulas.

A Note on Cost…

The cost of a doula varies greatly depending on where you live. Doulas who are working toward certification may offer discounted or free rates, while some celebrity doulas cost thousands of dollars. In general, the rate seems to be $400-800 in my area. In some areas, insurance will cover this, but often it does not.

When insurance does not cover the cost of a doula, it can seem like a tremendous expense, but the presence of a doula can help avoid costly interventions and often helps improve the birth experience. If there is one thing I’ve learned through my five pregnancies, it is that birth experiences stay with you for a very long time and can impact you deeply. I wish I had prioritized protecting my birth experience more with earlier births.

Also, when all costs are taken into account, the average doula only makes $10-15 an hour for her time in prenatal meetings, labor support, and follow up. I personally volunteer as a doula for friends and women with a need for labor support (single parents, husband deployed, financial need, etc), and many doulas are willing to barter, accept payment plans or work with a couple on cost.

14 Homemade Spice Blends

Many store bought herb and spice blends can be expensive, and a lot of them contain additives, anti-caking agents or MSG.

Homemade Herb and Spice Blends

Fortunately, most are very easy to make, and if you order your ingredients in bulk, you can make 14 (or more) different spice blends using under 30 herbs. You’ll be able to eat the cuisine of another country every night for two weeks, and quality spice blends can make even plain meat and vegetables exciting.

Personally, I order all the herbs necessary to make these herb and spice blends in 1 pound quantities from Mountain Rose Herbs because they offer a 10-30% discount for bulk orders over 5 pounds. I freeze any that I’m not using right away, or keep them in a cool, dry place and they last for at least a year. I use many of the herbs in other herbal recipes like my Vinegar of the Four Thieves Health Tonic, so they don’t go to waste.

If you’ve never made your own spice blends, I’d encourage you to try it! It’s simple, saves money, and you avoid the chemical additives that are in most spice blends. All of the herbs can be bought organically from Mountain Rose Herbs in as little as  4 ounce quantities or you may be able to find organic versions for sale by the ounce at your local health food store.

If you have a dehydrator and the time, you can also make your own garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder to save money.