CHAMPS National is live! You can visit our new CHAMPS National webpage to learn more about the program: The page has an expression of interest form for hospitals who wish to enroll in CHAMPS National, breastfeeding resources, and more.

If you missed our informational webinar on October 24, you can view the recording here:

Please reach out to us at with any questions.

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CHEER has received a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) for reflection and action over the next 18 months. CHAMPS: The Way Forward project will investigate associations between institutional racism and maternity care practices, improve breastfeeding education for prenatal health care providers, and host an onsite CHAMPS conference in Mississippi.

CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices) is a hospital-based initiative that promotes evidence-based maternity practices, with the ultimate goal of decreasing racial disparities in maternal and infant health. Since WKKF began funding Mississippi CHAMPS in 2014, breastfeeding rates have increased, racial disparities have decreased significantly, and the number of Baby-Friendly designated hospitals in Mississippi has risen from 0 to 29.

In line with WKKF’s upcoming period of reflection and review, this new 18-month bridge grant will maximize output, forge new pathways, and showcase CHAMPS’ position as a national thought leader in maternal-child health.

We look forward to working with WKKF on CHAMPS: The Way Forward and sincerely thank the foundation for providing continuous funding to CHEER for nearly 20 years!

More About CHAMPS

CHAMPS is going National! Starting this fall, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CHAMPS will enroll and work with 100 US hospitals to increase breastfeeding rates and decrease disparities.

We’re holding an informational webinar on October 24 to share what CHAMPS National is all about and how you can sign up your hospital, state, community, or organization to work with CHAMPS.

When: Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | 12-1pm ET


Congratulations to Merit Health Central, the latest Mississippi CHAMPS hospital to become Baby-Friendly! After six years of dedication and teamwork, the hospital received its official designation on September 21, 2023. View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby friendly website

Wayne General Hospital is Baby-Friendly! The hospital began its Baby-Friendly journey in 2017, and we couldn’t be more excited for its official designation. Congratulations to Wayne General’s team on this well-deserved accomplishment. View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby friendly website

CHEER has received a $6,000,000 cooperative agreement from the Agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement CHAMPS National. The program will improve maternity care practices for breastfeeding in 100 hospitals and aims to decrease racial inequities in breastfeeding rates, especially among African Americans.

CHAMPS National will activate a diverse team of interdisciplinary experts to increase safe, equitable hospital practices consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (Ten Steps) in a three-year initiative beginning on September 30th. CHEER will partner with the CDC, ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere), and other experts in maternal-child health and health equity to enroll, train, and support 100 hospitals across the country.

US breastfeeding rates are lowest among Black infants, due in large part to institutional racism and lack of evidence-based prenatal and postpartum care. Breastfeeding-supportive maternity practices equitably applied increase hospital breastfeeding rates, especially in populations at the highest risk of not breastfeeding.

Our CHAMPS model has a track record of improving breastfeeding rates and decreasing racial inequities in vulnerable populations. The new CDC funding will allow CHAMPS to make a national impact, increasing breastfeeding rates, advancing health equity, and shaping the course of Ten Steps compliance in the US for decades to come.

Read the press release to learn more.

CHEER Press Release

Mississippi CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices), a program of CHEER, has won a second national award for reducing racial breastfeeding disparities in Mississippi. MS CHAMPS is one of 10 US programs to receive the Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge Phase 2 award, created by the Office on Women’s Health to reward programs with a track record in increasing breastfeeding rates and decreasing disparities. CHAMPS was previously one of 15 awardees to receive the Phase 1 award in September 2021. As a Phase 2 awardee, CHAMPS received a prize of $30,000 and has an opportunity to advance to the final phase. Read the press release to learn more.

CHEER Press Release OWH Spotlight

North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC)-West Point is Baby-Friendly! The hospital became designated after starting its journey in 2015. The team at NMMC-West Point deserves a big congratulations for this incredible accomplishment. View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby friendly website

CHEER’s paper, Policies and Practices in a Cohort of Mississippi Birthing Hospitals During the COVID-19 Pandemic, is published in the February 2023 issue of Breastfeeding Medicine.  The study assessed changes to maternity care policies in response to COVID-19, and compared hospital-level breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and rooming-in rates, at cohort hospitals, before and during the pandemic. Check out the publication here.

View the publication

CHEER will honor the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Kiran Saluja MPH, RDN, with a webinar on March 23, 2023 at 1:00 pm ET. Join Kiran for an overview of PHFE WIC, a program of Heluna Health, including three cutting-edge breastfeeding promotion, support, and advocacy programs. Register here.

Register today

CHEER’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Kiran Saluja, MPH, RDN. Kiran serves as Executive Director at PHFE WIC, a program of Heluna Health, in California. She has successfully led maternal-child health efforts in WIC for more than four decades. We honor her lifelong dedication and achievements in breastfeeding advocacy. Read the full story.

Read the story

CHEER has received inaugural seed funding from BU’s Center on Forced Displacement (CFD), this is CHEER’s first grant for our international work. CHEER’s 2023 CFD grant focuses on refugee health in greater Athens, Greece. CHEER Director Anne Merewood MPH, PhD, who is also affiliated faculty at the CFD, will spearhead the project along with Shelley Brown MPH, PhD, from Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Read more about the CFD grants here.

Read the article

CHEER Director Anne Merewood and Camie Goldhammer presented in a live webcast on decreasing racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding on December 14, 2022. The University at Albany School of Public Health hosts the annual presentation, in partnership with the New York State Department of Health, in Albany, New York.

Watch the recording Download the slides

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is Baby-Friendly re-designated! The Medical Center officially became re-designated on December 5, 2022. Congratulations on this huge accomplishment! View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby Friendly website

The Bower Foundation has funded CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices), to sustain Baby-Friendly practices in Mississippi for another 3 years.

CHAMPS is a program of CHEER (The Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research) at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine.

The new grant will allow CHAMPS to help Mississippi hospitals to meet revised Baby-Friendly requirements. It will also include maternity workforce training, hospital workplace lactation support, and promotion of the Breastfeeding | Human Medicine Interprofessional Education (IPE) module.

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St. Dominic Hospital is Baby-Friendly! The hospital began its Baby-Friendly journey in 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited for its official designation. Congratulations to St. Dominic’s team on this well-deserved accomplishment! View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby friendly website

Singing River Pascagoula Hospital is Baby-Friendly! The hospital began its Baby-Friendly journey more than six years ago, and we couldn’t be more excited for its official designation. Congratulations to the Pascagoula Hospital team on this well-deserved accomplishment! View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby Friendly Website

Magnolia Regional Health Center is Baby-Friendly! Magnolia began its Baby-Friendly journey in 2016, and we couldn’t be more excited for its official designation. Congratulations to the hospital team on this well-deserved accomplishment! View the full list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby Friendly Website

South Central Regional Medical Center is officially Baby-Friendly! This hospital has overcome many challenges, including COVID-19, since they began their Baby-Friendly journey in 2018. We are thrilled to see them succeed! View the list of Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby Friendly Website

We need to provide systemic, proactive, coordinated support for breastfeeding. Reliance as a society on infant formula results in the kind of crisis now impacting parents across the US. CHEER applauds all those providing support to pregnant patients, during the birthing and newborn period, and throughout infancy. For guidance in this crisis, please see to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s Statement on Shortage of Breastmilk Substitutes (Infant Formula):

Read the ABM Statement Press Release PDF

CHEER’s latest publication in Maternal and Child Nutrition journal assesses the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance of the CHAMPS initiative in Mississippi. While our previous research showed that CHAMPS program was successful at improving maternity care practices, increasing breastfeeding rates, and decreasing racial disparities, this study looks at the broader impact of our program in Mississippi.

Check out the free open-access publication here.

Read the Publication Press Release

The Journal of Neonatal Nursing has published the findings from our qualitative study on the breastfeeding experiences of Mississippi mothers who gave birth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019! The study, titled “A qualitative assessment of mothers’ perspectives on hospital and community breastfeeding support in Mississippi,” was done in collaboration with our partners at Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere. Read and download the article for FREE, before April 14, 2022: 

View the Publication

New Publication Alert! Our latest Pediatrics paper provides evidence of the Mississippi CHAMPS program’s success in significantly decreasing racial inequities in breastfeeding initiation and increasing breastfeeding initiation, exclusive breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and rooming-in rates across Mississippi hospitals. Read our full press release here and access the publication here.

Read the Paper Full Press Release

Congratulations to University Hospital in San Antonio on their recent Baby-Friendly designation! This hospital was part of our CHAMPS South project which ran from 2014 -2017.  Learn more about the CHAMPS South project here.

Hospital Press Release

Support the CHEERing girls’ soccer team this holiday season! The Soccer Teams and Refugee Solidarity (STARS) program began in July and now supports over 30 girls, mostly from Afghanistan, who live in the Malakasa refugee camp just outside of Athens, Greece. As the team continues to grow and improve, we need your support to buy proper equipment, sneakers, and uniforms so the girls can play safely. Click here to donate!


The Bower Foundation has awarded CHEER a grant to promote the Breastfeeding: Human Medicine Interprofessional Education (IPE) module! The IPE is a collaborative effort between the University of Mississippi Medical Center, CHEER, and the Bower Foundation to expand education about breastfeeding across multiple medical disciplines. Learn more abut the new grant here.

CHEER Press Release Access the IPE

Greenwood Leflore Hospital is officially Baby-Friendly! This Mississippi Delta hospital was where it really all began for Mississippi CHAMPS and we are so proud to see them succeed in their Baby-Friendly journey. Congratulations to the team and to the Delta WIC program that got this going from the start! Learn more about the Mississippi Baby-Friendly hospitals here.

Baby-Friendly Website

CHEER and Union of European Neonatal and Perinatal Societies (UENPS) have collaborated on a multi-national study to assess breastfeeding-supportive hospital practices in European hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the new open access publication here.

View Publication

CHEERing has launched a new resource “Feeding Infants in Emergencies: Breastfeeding Matters Now“. As humanitarian crises and natural disasters continue to increase in today’s world, this resource further emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding as a life-saving intervention, especially in emergency situations. This resource is available in English, Arabic, French, and Farsi.

View Resources

Mississippi CHAMPS has won a national award for reducing racial breastfeeding disparities in Mississippi. CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices) is one of 15 US programs to receive the Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge award, created by the Office of Women’s Health to reward programs with a track record in increasing breastfeeding rates and decreasing disparities. The challenge has three phases. CHAMPS received a prize of $15,000, and an opportunity to advance to the next phase.

CHEER Press Release OWH Spotlight

CHEERing for CHAMPions: Virtual Breastfeeding Conference 2021 session recordings on are now available on YouTube. Watch the keynote and breakout sessions and subscribe to our channel here.

Watch Recordings

CHEER was happy to disseminate our work at the USBC National Breastfeeding Conference & Convening (NBCC) 2021! Check out our breakout presentations via the Whova Platform. Presentation recordings are available to all conference attendees for up to six months. Post-event registration and access are available until July 8.

Read More

Coahoma County Diaper Bank (a.k.a the Diaper Bank of the Delta) and Early Dawn Birthing Services have been awarded a $15,000 NACCHO grant, with CHEER as a partner, to assess the chest/breastfeeding environment in the northern Mississippi Delta! This funding will be used to evaluate community access to breastfeeding resources and individual breastfeeding support and education experiences. The grant will be executed by Coahoma County Diaper Bank, in partnership with CHEER (for research, data, and evaluation support), and Early Dawn Birthing Services (for community engagement and virtual listening sessions).

​Learn more about the NACCHO program here.

NACCHO program

Recently released from the CDC: Mississippi was ranked 4th in the U.S in 2020 for the percentage of births occurring at designated “Baby-Friendly” hospitals. Since CHAMPS began working in the state in 2014, the number of Baby-Friendly hospitals has increased dramatically from 0 to 22. Congratulations to all our Mississippi hospitals and partners on this noteworthy accomplishment!


CHEER Director, Dr. Anne Merewood, and her colleagues – Drs. Lars Bode, Riccardo Davanzo, and Rafael Perez-Escamilla- share their thoughts on England’s initial recommendation not to vaccinate lactating women in this recent publication from The Lancet.



Registration is now open for CHEER’s first-ever virtual conference, CHEERing for CHAMPions! CHEERing for CHAMPions: Virtual Breastfeeding Conference 2021, is free for all attendees. After registering, you will have access to the virtual conference platform, organized by SpotMe. Nursing CE credits available to Mississippi nursing staff at no cost; available to non-MS nursing staff for a requested donation.
Register soon to receive a gift pack, available to the first 100 registrants. Contact for questions!


CHAMPS had a wonderful virtual CHAMPS Breastfeeding Clinical Competencies Train-the-Trainer this morning! A huge thank you to Cathy Carothers for leading the session, and to all of our attendees – Who knew a Zoom training could be so engaging and informative!! We can’t wait for more trainings to come, and to hear about participants’ trainings at their own facilities!

Read More

Read More

CHAMPS’ Mississippi Liaison and Trainer, Cathy Carothers (BLA, IBCLC, FILCA) presented the Techniques for Safe Implementation of Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (CHAMPS) Training, a train-the-trainer for the course CHAMPS created and implemented to promote safe implementation of Baby-Friendly practices to support breastfeeding, at the recent International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA) annual conference. This workshop provided an overview of the new curriculum, with a focus on safety approaches for skin-to-skin care, rooming in, and prevention of falls. The teaching platform employs principles of visual design and case-based participation to enhance learning.

During the workshop, qualified lactation educators learned strategies for conducting effective education, background to the unique visual-based learning approach, key content topics, and options for conducting ​engaging activities as part of the curriculum. The presentation was released on August 21 and will be available to conference registrants on the ILCA website until November 18. ILCA attendees can attend the training and then access the course materials by emailing CHAMPS at with a copy of their ILCA registration confirmation or receipt and certificate of attendance.

Ilca 2020

CHEER, the Center for Health Equity, Education, & Research, stands in solidarity with Black people and other POC experiencing the pervasive and devastating consequences of racism in our country. We are outraged by the ceaseless injustices, both physical and systemic, that affect Black communities daily.

CHEER was founded to “bring about health equity,” with a focus on underserved populations. The events of the past weeks, coupled with the disproportionate numbers of COVID-19 cases among people of color, have emphasized the continued necessity and urgency of our work.

As AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP said, “Racism harms children’s health, starting from before they are born.” Now and always, CHEER remains committed to fighting inequities, countering systemic racism, and increasing optimal access to health for all families.

Cheer Official Statement

The CHAMPS Team is launching a series of COVID-19 focused webinars in the coming weeks.
To access and download past webinars in the series, view the 2020 “Past Webinars” heading on the webinars page.


Rooming in means mothers and infants staying together in the hospital. This is one of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Also, when large scale infections like COVID-19 are in the air, the safest place for the healthy baby is the mother’s room in the hospital. This prevents babies from being exposed to other babies by sharing a common nursery space or spending time being pushed around the hospital corridors.

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We are happy to announce that NMMC Gilmore-Amory is Baby-Friendly designated! Mississippi now has 20 Baby-Friendly hospitals, with 60% of births taking place in designated hospitals. Congratulations to the NMMC Gilmore team, we appreciate their tenacity and commitment to providing mothers and newborns with the finest evidence-based care! We are also thankful for such wonderful news during these tough times.

Read More

In light of the ongoing novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, CHAMPS has cancelled or postponed the Mississippi CHAMPS site visits and mock assessments scheduled for the week of March 23rd. We have also cancelled upcoming trainings to adhere to social distancing and other recommended preventive measures at this time. Please click on the button below for more information and resources.

*The CDC recommends breastfeeding even where women are COVID-19 positive.*

CHAMPS Covid-19 Response!

Our Sister Organization, CHEERING, has created a COVID-19 Breastfeeding presentation for refugee populations. This resource is free, evidence-based, and available (in English) on the CHEERING website.

COVID-19 presentation

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