A MOTHER has called for an attitude-shift towards the "taboo" of breast-feeding after she was asked to ‘cover up or leave’ in a Blackheath café.

Juliana Lovato says she was discreetly breastfeeding her five-and-a-half month old son Benjamin for just two minutes in Blackheath’s Age Exchange cafe when a staff member told her she was embarrassing other customers.

A spokeswoman for the cafe has apologised and says breastfeeding mothers are welcome and this should not have happened.

The 34-year-old, who lives in Lee High Road with her partner Tom Dowe, says the "taboo" on breastfeeding in public needs to be lifted and urged other mums not to be embarrassed.

Ms Lovato, who works for a marketing research agency, was with a group of other mums and fed her hungry son, whose face was covering her breast, to stop him screaming in the café on November 15.

She said: "I didn’t want to upset anyone.

"Within two minutes, this lady came over.

"She said: ‘Can you cover yourself up. We have had several customers complaining that you are showing flesh.

"People feel offended that you are showing your breast in public.'

"It was really awkward.

"I think the way I see it, I didn’t take it as a personal thing, it is discrimination against all women."

Under the Equality Act 2010 it was made illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place such as a shop or café or discriminate against them for breastfeeding.

The mother-of-one covered her baby’s head with a scarf but he started crying and the group decided to leave with her friends left upset on her behalf.

Ms Lovato, who has lived in London for eight years, hails from Brazil where she says breastfeeding in public is encouraged but she often turns towards the wall in the UK to be respectful to a different culture.

She said: "People breastfeed at the bus stop and nobody bats an eyelid in Brazil.

"But here it is seen as a taboo.

"I would never impose on anyone but sometimes it has to be done, otherwise you would never leave the house.

"I would be confined to my living room so people don’t see my breast.

"Because Blackheath has so many families with young children and babies, I think this attitude really needs to be reviewed and people not to be embarrassed."

She added: "What I find really upsetting is there’s a massive campaign from the government to promote breast feeding, which is the healthiest thing for the baby, but the public image is that it is something to be embarrassed about."

Suzanne Lockett, who is one of the directors at Blackheath Age Exchange, said: "I am really sorry if she was in any way offended. It isn’t our policy to ask anyone breastfeeding to leave, I can’t understand why that has happened.

"We have so many breastfeeding mums in here and they are very welcome."

She says she has contacted Ms Lovato and they arranged a meeting where she accepted the charity’s apology.