Allen County Regional Hospital in Iola is now a High 5 for Mom & Baby recognized hospital, having integrated specific maternity care procedures based on the proven health benefits associated with breastfeeding and other key elements of bonding between mother and newborn.

The High 5 program—initiated, funded, and provided at no charge to Kansas hospitals by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund—is founded on key practices crucial for a successful breastfeeding experience. High 5 for Mom & Baby was developed by the Hutchinson-based Health Fund in conjunction with the Kansas Breastfeeding Workgroup.

Of the 58 hospitals and birth centers around the state now having made a commitment to the High 5 program, Allen County Regional is the 29th to qualify for the recognition. The process began last year when the educator for the High 5 program, Libby Rosen, PhD, RN, IBCLC, conducted on-site education classes at Allen County Regional Hospital attended by nine staff and interested community members.

The High 5 program coordinator, Gwen Whittit, RN, IBCLC, will acknowledge the accomplishment with an award presentation Tuesday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m. during the hospital’s Board of Trustees meeting.

According to Whittit, the five best practices comprising the High 5 for Mom & Baby standards are: assuring immediate, sustained skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth; giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated; allowing “rooming in” so mothers and infants can remain together 24 hours a day; not giving pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants; and providing mothers options for breastfeeding support in the community.

Research indicates a link between not breastfeeding and increased health risks for a baby including high blood pressure, type 1 and 2 diabetes, asthma, ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, leukemia, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Studies also show a definite correlation to childhood and adolescent obesity for those who were not breastfed. In addition, mothers derive health benefits. Those who breastfeed have a decreased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

More information about the High 5 for Mom & Baby program is available at For more information on Allen County Regional Hospital, visit