Breast milk is saving the lives of refugee children. Here's how.

Jamie Grumet is about to board a flight to Turkey. But this is not a vacation.

Jamie is a mom of two living in California, and she's a big advocate for global health — especially the health of mothers. There's a good chance you may have seen her before. 

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A photo of Jamie breastfeeding her then-3-year-old son Aram on the cover of Time magazine went viral a few years ago. 


Jamie, pictured here with her son Aram, is a big advocate for breastfeeding because she believes it saves lives. Photo from Lori Dorman, used with permission.

Jamie works with the Nurture Tomorrow project (a part of the VCA International nonprofit) that focuses on global health. She's visiting Turkey to focus her energy on the refugee crisis.

"If you can support a mother, then you can support the entire community," Jamie told Upworthy. "One way to do that is to help with their infants' food security." 

Children under 5 make up as much as 20% of refugee populations. Unfortunately, many of them die from malnutrition. Jamie feels this is a huge problem that can be prevented.

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"When you provide children with sanitary, nutritious foods and hydration, you are removing many health concerns that kill young children," Jamie said. "Breastfeeding provides that."

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Here are three important factors Jamie focuses on as part of her work with Nurture Tomorrow:

1. Breastfeeding is more reliable and safer than formula in places like refugee camps where clean water is scarce.

Donating formula to refugee camps sounds good in theory, and it's a question Jamie fields often. But according to anthropologist Bridget McGann, it's much more complicated than one might think. 

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"Powdered formula is not sterile and can harbor bacteria that may be harmful to infants, even in the best of conditions," Bridget told Upworthy. "Access to clean water in the camps is inconsistent, and mixing formula with contaminated water can cause serious illness." 

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Clean water is not easy to come by in refugee areas. Photo by Jamie Grumet, used with permission.

We all know that babies in America who use formula will be just fine. For refugee children, the reality is that access to human milk can make the difference between those who survive and those who don't.

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"As long as breastfeeding parents have enough food and water to sustain themselves, the child will have safe and clean food at all times," Bridget said.  

2. Stress and lack of privacy may make breastfeeding difficult. So Jamie and the folks at Nurture Tomorrow are building safe spaces to help.

When it's time to breastfeed, the mother's body begins the let-down process, which releases milk to the baby. In stressful situations, it can be difficult for a mother's body to begin that process. And sadly, stress is way of life for many refugee moms. 

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“Breast milk production is controlled by a different hormone than the release of it," Bridget said. "If they believe that they aren't producing milk due the stress around them, they will stop breastfeeding and the milk supply will dry up." 

Moms feeling safe and comfortable helps with breastfeeding. Photo by Lori Dorman, used with permission.

To that end, Jamie is trying to build facilities where refugee moms can breastfeed in comfort and privacy while getting the support and care they need. 

3. In a stressful environment like a refugee camp, there can be additional physical and emotional benefits for breastfeeding mothers and their children.

"In America, breast versus bottle is just another battle in the 'mommy wars,'" she said. "But this isn't some silly debate topic. For refugee babies, breast milk can mean the difference between life or death."

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As tumultuous as life can be for a refugee mom, it's also quite stressful for their babies — but breastfeeding helps fight the everyday trauma.  

Other than nutrition, babies benefit emotionally from breastfeeding. Photo by Jade Beall Photography 2015, used with permission.

"Having the mother's body as a home base as a place of comfort, nourishment, and safety helps infants cope with the stress around them," Jamie said. 

It's so easy to focus on what's going on in our own lives. Thanks to people like Jamie, Bridget, and others for showing us that there's a lot more we should be paying attention to.

It's time to pay better attention to the world around us. Photo by Jade Beall Photography 2015, used with permission.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.