A mother-of-four was told she could not breastfeed her twins in the public space at their nursery because it was ‘inappropriate’.
Jennifer Mancuso, from Ohio, was criticised for tandem breastfeeding her twin daughters because it could have been offensive to others.
The 38-year-old, who has four daughters – Parker, 4, Piper, 3, and twins Aria and Asher, 18 months, – as well as three step-children, breastfed her two older girls until they weaned off, and is still nursing the twins.
Last August, Jennifer was breastfeeding Aria and Asher inside their nursery when an employee asked her to relocate to the staff room.
Jennifer, a professional photographer, was told that some of the children were ‘school-aged’ and it could be inappropriate for them to see.
The director also felt that it was best for Jennifer not to nurse in a public area of the centre in case she offended any religious beliefs of other parents.
Jennifer said: ‘I nurse the twins two to three times a day, but if they’re feeling unwell it may be more often than that.
‘It’s much more difficult to breastfeed discreetly when there’s two. When the babies were very young and unable to support themselves, I had to latch them on myself and hold them there simultaneously.
‘Because of my schedule with the older two, it works best for me to breastfeed the twins at drop-off and pick-up.
‘One morning I began nursing Asher on a chair before I left and the director said she needed me to nurse in the back, in the staff room, which is no bigger than a wardrobe.
‘They told me that I wasn’t allowed to nurse my babies in any of the public spaces because it had to be in a private space, because they have school-aged children. That implies what I’m doing is inappropriate for older children to witness.
‘The manager of the location chimed in and stated that it was also to protect other parents who may find it offensive due to religion. I literally scoffed out loud at her and shared it on my Instagram in disbelief.
‘We went back and forth several times, but no one was backing down. I couldn’t immediately withdraw them and seek new childcare, but they needed nursing.
‘So, I conceded and went to the break room. Later that week the manager apologised and even teared up.’
Jennifer was close to removing her daughters from the centre until after three weeks of dispute, she received an apology from the director of the centre.
‘I got a call from the director who was completely apologetic. She explained how sorry she was about her comments. She saw how negatively that could make a new or insecure breastfeeding mother feel and potentially ruin a journey.
‘She said they’d update their handbook to make it clear so there is no more confusion. She also asked if I would be open to providing additional documents or insight, and of course I agreed.’
Jennifer has shared her experience to normalise breastfeeding so other mothers aren’t afraid of it.
She said: ‘I am majorly pro-breastfeeding in public because that’s the only way it will ever become normalised.
‘I could have stormed off and immediately put my kids in a different school, but I didn’t. I saw a teaching opportunity. Isn’t that what normalising is all about – spreading awareness?.’
‘I’m also very passionate about normalising it because I want to help other mums have the strength to see it through and not be afraid to breastfeed in public.’