MARIANNA - One local hospital has earned a special designation through an international initiative for implementation of education on breastfeeding guidelines and standards.

Jackson Hospital, 4250 Hospital Drive, recently earned the designation of a Designated Baby-Friendly Birth Facility by WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund). 

Jackson Hospital is one of 500 hospitals in the United States to receive the designation, also one of only two statutory rural hospitals in Florida offering obstetrics.

"This program means safe feeding for all infants, breast or bottle," said Director of Maternal/Child Nursing Melanie Sellers, RN.

The international organizations launched the initiative in  1991 "to ensure that all maternities, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support," according to the UNICEF website.

Facilities that have the designation has successfully implemented the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeading, which include providing education to families to make informed decision about infant feeding, encouraging mothers to hold their babies skin-to-skin immediately following birth, and offering expert lactation support throughout and beyond the hospital stay, according to Babyfriendlyusa.org, the website of BFUSA, the accrediting organization.

"Being named Baby-Friendly by the renowned UNICEF and The World Health Organization is the public affirmation of all that we do for new families and babies at Jackson Hospital," she said in a news release announcing the designation.

More information about the Baby-Friendly Birth Facility and Jackson Hospital's maternal care services is available by contacting the hospital at 850-526-2200, or visiting their website Jackson-Hospital.com.