More than 12 mums turned up' />

Breastfeeding mothers staged a "nurse-in" in a West Auckland market to fight for their right to breastfeed in public.

More than 12 mums turned up to "put the kids on" outside the Tea Tree Cafe in Ranui yesterday afternoon after Natalie Kane was told she was not allowed to breastfeed.

Just over a week ago, Ranui market co-ordinator Rosanna Leman yelled at Mrs Kane for breastfeeding her daughter Pascha inside the cafe that backs on to the carpark where the market is held on a Friday evening.

"She was really horrible about it and it was really quite upsetting. She told me it was against health regulations to breastfeed in a public place.

"I was horrified by how she said it and she just kept going on and on at me, even though the owners had let me."

Mrs Leman said she felt "forced" to say something to Mrs Kane. She had been approached by a mother with her two children who felt uncomfortable with Mrs Kane breastfeeding her baby in the cafe where food was being prepared.

"I had to say something," said Mrs Leman. "I have to do what is right for the customers."

Mrs Leman said she should have phrased her request more sensitively but still believes breastfeeding in a food preparation area is unhygienic.

"They should have come to my house if they wanted to talk about it.

"It's to do with me not the markets," said Mrs Leman.

The public telling-off prompted Mrs Kane's friend Jessica Richards to organise last night's protest where mothers from the Ranui community gathered to breastfeed right in view of Mrs Leman.

Mrs Richards said the protest was about standing up against discrimination and recognising a mother's right to breastfeed where she pleases.

She said public breastfeeding was important because it helped familiarise women with breastfeeding before they had their own children.

"If the child was walking around with a can of Fanta no one would complain but what is healthier?" she said.

Mrs Richards, who took part in the protest until her 19-month-old daughter Lorelai fell asleep, hoped her friend's experience would not knock the confidence of other mums who breastfeed in public.

"You don't know what journey a mother has been on before she is able to breastfeed."