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AACH earns coveted Baby-Friendly certification

The designation puts all three Asante hospitals in an exclusive club delivering quality newborn care.


Six years in the making, Asante Ashland Community Hospital has earned international designation as a Baby-Friendly hospital for meeting the highest standards of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. AACH follows Asante Three Rivers, which earned baby-friendly certification in 1999 and Asante Rogue Regional, which received designation in 2022.

Becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital isn’t easy. It must meet strict standards and employ certain practices to encourage breastfeeding, which is medically proven to improve health outcomes and lower risk for certain diseases.

“This designation is a tribute to our commitment to ensuring that every woman who delivers a baby at our facility is given the resources, information and support needed to help her and her baby get the best, healthiest start in life,” said Sarah Hillyer, director of Nursing who oversees obstetrics at all three hospitals.

Certification is granted by Baby-Friendly USA, part of a global effort to encourage evidence-based best practices recommended by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. AACH joins a growing list of more than 20,000 Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers throughout the world, only about 600 of them are in the United States.

To qualify, hospitals must educate all employees on Baby-Friendly practices, not just those who work in family birth centers. This is because being truly Baby-Friendly involves employees throughout the organization — from administrators who must develop policies, to lactation specialists and ED providers who must consider how certain tests may affect a mother’s milk.

Med/Surg teams must be aware that nursing mothers should pump at least eight times in 24 hours. Pharmacy must weigh the benefits of a certain medication against the risk to the mother’s milk. Environmental Services needs to ensure all areas of the hospital are clean for breastfeeding and free of formula or images of bottles and pacifiers.

Although Baby-Friendly hospitals actively promote breastfeeding, the designation does not take away personal choice. Formula will be supplied, for example, when it is medically required. And all mothers will be treated with respect regardless of their feeding decisions.

AACH began preparing for the designation in 2017 and assigned staff members training modules in preparation. Baby-Friendly USA surveyors conducted rigorous reviews of the hospital’s practices to ensure they met all baby-friendly guidelines. The organization announced AACH’s certification on Sept. 18.

“This designation is the culmination of a lot of hard work and determination across our organization, all with a goal of helping families get off to a good start,” said Amanda Kotler, chief nursing officer for Asante. “We are proud to offer an environment that supports best practices and are committed to give moms who choose to breastfeed the best chance for success.”

Tags: AACH, Baby-Friendly hospital, certification
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