+
Family

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. 

\n\n

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.

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n

"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."

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n

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. 

\n\n

"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." 

\n\n\n\n\n\n

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.

\n\n

"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. 

\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n

“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."

\n\n

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.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less