A YOUNG mum says she's been left distressed and embarrassed by negative reactions when she breast-feeds her baby in public.

But, backed by a health specialist who says mothers should not have to scurry off to hide in toilets, she's determined to carry on.

Michelle Venables was given two minutes to stop or leave a pub in Hereford where she was having a meal and, on two other occasions in the city, women have been critical of her actions.

Michelle, of Ledgemoor, near Weobley, said she was embarrassed and upset but intends to carry on feeding baby Sophie, now two months, and would not be put off by negative attitudes.

Her determination was welcomed by Julia Youll, health visitor who specialises in breast-feeding for Herefordshire Primary Care Trust.

Mothers who wanted to feed their babies should not be forced to scurry off into lavatories to do it, she said. People should be celebrating a woman making the choice, rather than seeing it as offensive or cranky.

Michelle, on maternity leave from Morrisons, had her first taste of disapproval at J D Wetherspoons Kings Fee, in Commercial Road, Hereford, where her partner Richard had taken her and baby Sophie, who was six days old.

When Sophie started to grizzle she had no option but to feed her. It was the first time she had done so in public and she was careful to be discreet.

But she was embarrassed when a male member of staff told her off for her actions, giving her two minutes to stop, or leave.

Michelle said she felt awful and went upstairs to a cloak room to finish the feed. "But I did not think it was right to be sitting on a toilet seat to do it,'' she said.

Duty manager at the Kings Fee, Sam Tregoning, told the Hereford Times there was no policy against breast-feeding and a notice was being put up in the staff room to that effect.