An Ohio mom was furious when she was told it was “inappropriate for children to see” her breastfeeding her twins at their nursery.
The 38-year-old mother of Parker, Piper, and twins Aria and Asher recalled the incident to People.
Jennifer Mancuso said she was tandem breastfeeding her twins Aria and Asher last summer when an employee asked her to relocate to a small private room.
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When I hung up with the director of the twins daycare center after that very tense conversation regarding my breastfeeding in their facility, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt like I absolutely had to switch schools and I was very sad about it…to a point I even may have gotten teary-eyed. Anyone who has had their children in a facility, especially multiple children over the course of many years, can understand the beautiful, deep relationships created with the staff. My children’s teachers I look at as “auntie” or a couple as “grandma”. Switching schools was a very depressing thought, but feeling as passionately as I do about breastfeeding and being able to do so in public and NORMALIZING, I just didn’t think I could compromise on this one, not this one. Then, that evening I received an unexpected call from the director. In her voice I could hear a complete 180°. Her tone was completely apologetic. She explained how sorry she was about how her comments as well as the regional managers confusion made me feel. She saw how negatively that could make a new or insecure breastfeeding mother feel and potentially ruin a journey. She spoke with her regional manager and together they decided to have a district-wide sensitivity training on state and national law which protects mothers right to breastfeed their child anywhere and everywhere. She explained they will be updating their handbook to make it very clear so there is no more confusion and will never happen again. She also asked if I would be open to providing additional documents or insight. Of course, I happily agreed. I saw an opportunity to handle this sensitive situation with grace and provide education. I could have stormed off and immediately ripped my kids out and put them in a different school. But I didn’t. I saw a teaching opportunity. Isn’t that what “normalizing” is all about? Spread awareness. This is me breastfeeding the twins in their classroom morning when I dropped them off. Everything was perfect. All the other babies were very interested in what was going on and I enjoyed observing some of the goings on of my girls classroom. . Outfits @zipease
Mancuso recounted the experience in an Instagram post. She wrote:
I started to nurse on one of the chairs and the director said, ‘Hey Jenn, I’m gonna need you to nurse in the back. The employee break room (which is no bigger than a closet) is where you can nurse from now on.’
She was told that the school-age kids could see her feeding in the public area and it was best for her to leave. She explained:
She said her boss (the district manager who was in the day prior and witnessed me nursing inside my girls room, away from almost everyone) said that I am not allowed to nurse my babies in any of the public spaces and that it has to be in a private space — the s—y little closet break room.
As previously reported by Dearly, moms around the country have defended their right to nurse in public spaces now that U.S. law allows mothers to breastfeed, covered or uncovered, in public or private.
Mancuso said some may argue that she should be more discreet. However, she explains that she wasn’t doing anything wrong and it’s more challenging to discreetly nurse two kids at the same time.
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It finally happened to me in real life. And it happened at one of the places I feel most safe with my children: our daycare. . Because of my schedule with my older two, it works best for me to breastfeed the twins at drop off and at pick up. That way they are still getting mostly breastmilk through the day and maybe a little water or formula with their lunch. . For years, my children have gone here and I have made wonderful relationships with this 100% female staff. I’ve breastfed in the infant rooms rocking chairs as well as on the floor in the twins room and even a couple times in the lobby area. . Each time I am *always* discreet while not using a cover. . Tuesday morning I dropped the girls off like normal and began to start nursing Asher briefly before I left as she had not had any yet that morning. I started to nurse on one of the chairs and the director said, “Hey Jenn, I’m gonna need you to nurse in the back. The employee break room (which is no bigger than a closet) is where you can nurse from now on.” . Dumbfounded, I said “Wait, what?” She said her boss (the district manager who was in the day prior and witnessed me nursing inside my girls room, away from almost everyone) said that I am not allowed to nurse my babies in any of the public spaces and that it has to be in a private space – the shitty little closet break room. I responded saying that I don’t think that’s legal, what they’re telling me. She said, “It’s company policy because we have school age children.” . Pause – SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN?! As if implying what I’m doing is inappropriate for older children to witness?! . She continued that not only is it in their company handbook but because they are “private sector” that the Ohio Law of being able to breastfeed in public does not apply here. . The manager of the location chimed in and stated that also it’s to protect other parents who may find it offensive, because of their religious beliefs. . I literally scoffed out loud and said, wow, this is going to be great Instagram content. I will be sharing this. . #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #nursingmom #nursingmama #nursingmamaproblems #breastfeedingproblems #breastfeedingprobs
Mancuso told People that she’s “never” been asked to relocate before that day on August 30. She explained:
“In fact, the director who made me move is also a mom of two sets of twins who breastfed both of them. I had nursed Piper there when she was an infant — in the classroom and lobby — and was never told anything negative.”
“I believe this incident occurred because they had their regional director there as well as their ‘state lady,’ who was auditing them at the exact time.”
The manager of the nursery eventually apologized to the mother and even teared up over the incident.
Mancuso said she was considering removing her children from the location until the director apologized. She adds:
“Since then, they’ve had staff sensitivity/breastfeeding awareness training. I overheard a new mom ask where she can nurse and the staff said ANYWHERE YOU LIKE, ANYTIME YOU NEED.”
Mancuso said she wanted to share her experience to normalize nursing, so other mothers don’t fear to nurse in public or private spaces.