A YOUNG mum has told how she gave up breastfeeding after being thrown out of a Poole café for nursing her three-day old son.
Nicola Harle, 20, who had only just overcome a fear of feeding in public, burst into tears after the incident at Costa Coffee.
And by turning her away the coffee shop was breaking sexual discrimination laws which came into force on April 6, according to the Government Equalities Office.
Nicola told the Daily Echo: "It was humiliating. There were people at the other tables watching me as I tried to get him out from under my jacket while he was screaming, and tried to pick up our stuff. It's something a mother should never have to go through."
The mum-of-two from Symes Road, Poole, was sitting in the outside seating area of Costa Coffee near the Dolphin Centre at around lunchtime on Tuesday last week. She started feeding her son Callum discreetly under her jacket, while turned away from the window of the café.
She said: "One of the waitresses came up and said she had to ask me to leave because other customers were complaining it was making then feel uncomfortable.
"I'd only just got over a fear of breastfeeding in public - I got around the corner and just started crying. I feel really angry and upset about it."
She added: "I've actually stopped breastfeeding. I had wanted to do it for longer than I did with my little girl, but this has put me right down, so I've gone on to the bottle."
Mandy Grant, manager for the breastfeeding support service for Bournemouth and Poole Primary Care Trust, said: "It is unusual, but when it happens it is awful and devastating for the mum. We will approach this business and offer them information. They need to realise this wasn't the best way to handle the situation.
"It should be a woman's right to feed her baby."
She added: "It's really scary for women to think this will happen to them, so it's really important to remember most people don't mind at all."
A spokesman for Costa Coffee said: "Costa has always encouraged young mums to spend time in Costa stores and we are very happy for mothers to breastfeed. We welcome children of all ages.
"In this case the manager would have been trying to do what was best for all customers and would never have intended to cause any offence or upset to the young mum.
"I would like to make a personal apology to this lady on behalf of Costa and hope we can welcome her back in the store at some point soon."
- A spokeswoman from the Government Equalities Office said the 2008 Sex Discrimination Regulations, brought in earlier this month, make sex discrimination unlawful in the provisions of goods, facilities, services and premises to the public.
She said: "The EU Directive stipulates that less favourable treatment on grounds of pregnancy or maternity is direct sex discrimination.
"The law would apply if a restaurant owner turned a woman away for breastfeeding her newborn baby if the act of breastfeeding was the reason for doing so.
"The regulations do not provide a right for a mother to breastfeed in a public place."
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, because of its importance for the health of mums and babies. Less than two per cent of British babies are exclusively breastfed for this length of time.