A mothetr who asked to breastfeed during a benefits claim interview was given short shrift by JobCentre staff.

Teresa Owen did not think there would be a problem feeding her six-month-old son Alfie during the appointment at the centre in Newhaven High Street.

But when she asked the woman interviewing her if that was acceptable, she was told it was against policy.

Now angry Mrs Owen, 40, of West Quay, Newhaven, says she has been discriminated against and plans to protest outside the centre as well as try to enlist the support of her MP.

The married mother-of-one said: "When the woman who interviewed me first saw Alfie she called him a little cutie, so I thought everything would be fine.

"When it came to the time when he needed feeding I asked her out of courtesy, not thinking that it would be an issue, whether she would mind if I did so.

"But all she said was, 'No you can't do that in here, it's not policy'.

"I don't know what policy or whose policy she was referring to but I felt so angry, humiliated and discriminated against.

"I ended up in tears. I said I couldn't believe she was acting like that in this day and age.

"She said she would see what she could do and I was put in a private room downstairs."

It was Mrs Owen's first visit to a JobCentre.

She had gone there to see if she would be eligible for Jobseeker's Allowance.

She was a day nursery manager in Hove for ten years before being made redundant.

Mrs Owen said: "Unfortunately, although it was my first visit, it won't be my last as I need to go back again.

"I was particularly angered as the Government is encouraging people to breastfeed for longer and the JobCentre is one of its own departments."

Mrs Owen has lodged a formal complaint and has written to her MP, Lewes Liberal Democrat Norman Baker.

She plans to protest outside the JobCentre during Breastfeeding Awareness Week from May 9 to 15.

A JobCentre spokeswoman said: "We are very sorry Mrs Owen had a distressing experience.

"A lot of people are coming in and out and passing through the office every day and we felt it would be better as an issue of health and safety if Mrs Owen and her baby were in a more private environment.

"It was certainly not our intention to upset her."

Mr Baker said he supported Mrs Owen and was disappointed at the way she was treated.

He said: "I don't see what the fuss is about.

"If a baby has to be fed it has to be fed and breastfeeding is a perfectly natural activity.

"It is very regrettable that Victorian attitudes on this type of thing are still around."

About two-thirds of women in the UK breastfeed their babies.

There are huge variations according to social class, age and area of the country.