A MUM was stopped from breastfeeding her son in an Oxford department store.

Mother-of-two Emily John was so upset after she was asked by a staff member to stop feeding four-week-old Jacob in Debenhams that she organised a protest.

After Debenhams apologised, the event at the Magdalen Street store has evolved into a “celebration of breastfeeding”.

Mrs John, 25, said she was “discreetly” breastfeeding in the shoe department on Saturday when a member of staff told her to stop or move somewhere else.

Mrs John said: “I had been feeding him for about 10 minutes and a manager came over and said it was not appropriate as it is a public place.”

In a formal complaint to the store she said: “I feel that both sexual and maternity discrimination have taken place. I have been offended and upset by this incident.”

She said: “It really undermines your confidence if you are breastfeeding and someone comes and says you can’t.

“It makes you think twice about doing it.

“Children deserve to eat no matter how you’re going to be feeding them, especially in the early days when they need feeding a lot and there is no way to predict where and when.”

On Saturday at 11am more than 30 mothers will breastfeed in the store.

The gathering was originally organised as a ‘sit-in’ protest but after talks with the store it is hoped the event will raise awareness of the issue.

Mrs John added: “We want to promote that it is fine to breastfeed in public. Hopefully we will be welcome.”

Julie Osborne, co-ordinator of Oxford’s Baby Cafes and a breastfeeding expert, said: “It’s ridiculous. If a mother wants to breastfeed in a public place she should be supported to do so.”

Debenhams spokesman Ruth Leach said: “We are very proud of the fact that we are supportive of breastfeeding mums at Debenhams.

“It appears with this isolated incident the staff in our Oxford store got our policy wrong.

“As a matter of urgency we are immediately reminding and reinforcing our breastfeeding stance with our staff.

“We have spoken to Emily and apologised to her and her family and do so again now.”

She added staff were now working with Mrs John to make Saturday’s event a “celebration of breastfeeding”.

Breastfeeding mothers are protected in law under the Sexual Discrimination Act when breastfeeding in places such as cafes, restaurants, libraries and surgeries.

Oxford businesses including Zizzi and Caffe Uno in George Street and The Living Room in Oxford Castle said they had no problem with women breastfeeding in the restaurants.

A staff member at Pizza Express in Cornmarket said they were happy to accommodate mothers and could find them a quiet table if that made them more comfortable.