A mother-of-four who was asked not to breastfeed her twins at their own nursery because it was deemed inappropriate and could be offensive, hopes that by standing up for her rights she will help other mothers.
Professional photographer Jennifer Mancuso, 38, from Ohio, faced criticism for tandem breastfeeding her twin daughters in a public space because some of the children at the nursery were of ‘school age’.
Jennifer, who has four daughters Parker, four, Piper, three, and twins Aria and Asher, 18 months, as well as three step-children, Adriana, 13, Vegah, nine, and Copeland, seven, breastfed her two older girls until they weaned off, and is still nursing the twins.
In August last year Jennifer was tandem breastfeeding Aria and Asher inside their nursery when an employee asked her to relocate to the staff room, a small and boxy room which couldn’t be seen into, to nurse.
Jennifer Mancuso was left furious after she was instructed to stop breastfeeding her twins Aria and Asher in the public area of their own nursery last summer
Jennifer was told that she had to nurse her daughters in a private space because 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 center in case she offended any religious beliefs of other parents.
The staff at the day-care went back and forth with Jennifer, telling her where she could and couldn’t breastfeed.
Jennifer was close to removing her daughters from the center until after three weeks of dispute, she received an apology from the director of the center.
Staff at the nursery have since reviewed their policies to make sure the same situation would never occur again.
Jennifer has shared her experience to normalize breastfeeding so other mothers aren’t afraid of it.
She said: ‘Both my twins were able to latch on right away, but I think it helped that I was a veteran at breastfeeding by then, so it didn’t intimidate me.
Jennifer (pictured with her 18-month-old twins) was told by nursery directors that some might be offended by her nursing and was led to a private room
The staff argued that some of the children at the nursery were of ‘school age’ so shouldn’t witness her feeding
‘I nursed my first two in public, but I wasn’t nearly as confident as I am with the twins.
‘I would turn bright red and have beads of sweat drip down my face because I was so insecure and afraid that someone would say something negative to me.
‘However, the more I did it in public, the more I realised that most people don’t care, and if they do, they keep it to themselves.
‘It’s natural and frankly I don’t care if someone sees my breast, or a glimpse of my nipple doing what nature created it to do.
‘Parker, my oldest, breastfed until 20 months, and Piper stopped at 12 months. Partially I think they self-weaned due to a change in the taste of my breastmilk from getting pregnant.
‘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.
Jennifer is also a mother to Parker, 4, and Piper, 3 (seen here with their mother) as well as three step-children, Adriana, 13, Vegah, 9, and Copeland, 7
She is very open when it comes to breastfeeding, sharing snaps of her nursing, often naked, on her Instagram account
‘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 apologized and even teared up.
‘By the end of September, I spoke with the director who accepted that she’d misunderstood the company policy regarding privacy. I told her that a misunderstanding like that is not acceptable.
‘Later that evening 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.
Jennifer considered removing her children from the nursery until she received an apology from the director after three weeks of dispute
The nursery has now reformed its policy to allow breastfeeding in public, much to Jennifer’s delight
The mother (pictured with the wins shortly after they were born) says that she has become more confident over the years when it comes to nursing
‘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 aims to spread awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding with other mothers
Over the years Jennifer has become confident about nursing in public and she knew her rights, so she explained to the staff that although their comments angered her deeply, they didn’t stop her breastfeeding.
However, the same might not have been said if they treated a new mother who was less confident nursing in the same way.
‘I am majorly pro-breastfeeding in public because that’s the only way it will ever become normalised,’ said Jennifer.
‘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?
‘Breastfeeding is important on so many different levels for me. There are benefits that my babies receive from my breastmilk and there are so many health benefits that I also receive from breastfeeding, including reduced rates of multiple different types of cancer.
‘I’m also very passionate about normalizing it because I want to help other mothers have the strength to see it through and not be afraid to breastfeed in public.’