Baby-Friendly Hospital

In 1996, EvergreenHealth became the first hospital in the United States to earn designation as a Baby Friendly Hospital from UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

Our Baby Friendly Hospital designation has been renewed every five years, most recently in 2017.

About the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

The goal of the Baby Friendly Initiative is to promote breastfeeding to give babies for the best start in life.

Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses, including gastroenteritis, asthma, eczema and respiratory and ear infections.

The studies also show health benefits for adults who were breastfed as babies, concluding they may be less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

There are benefits for nursing mothers, too: women who don't breastfeed have increased risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures in later life.

The criteria for becoming an accredited Baby-Friendly Hospital include:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in - that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

The program also restricts the hospital's use of free infant formula or other infant care aids provided by formula manufacturers.