The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) of London has apologised after asking a breastfeeding mother to cover up while nursing her baby.

Museum director and former Labour MP Tristram Hunt apologised on Twitter, saying: "[Very] sorry. Our policy is clear: women may breast-feed wherever they like, wherever they feel comfortable and should not be disturbed."

He added, "Staff receives regular customer service training to provide the best care for our visitors. We'll remind staff of our breastfeeding policy.

"Our policy goes beyond legal responsibilities to welcome and encourage breastfeeding in our spaces and provide private spaces when requested."

Kat Joyce had visited the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design with her child and was feeding him when she was reprimanded. Writing under the name Vaguechera, the woman said the incident —which ironically took place during National Breastfeeding Week — left her "perplexed".

She also posted a picture of herself with her son on Twitter, and said: "Flashed a nanosecond of nipple while breastfeeding and was asked to cover up in V&A courtyard. Am perplexed..."

The 37-year-old mother added that it was the first time in the three-and-a-half years of her breastfeeding life that she had to experience something like that.

The mother also pointed out the irony of the request at the museum that has several topless statues. "On the upside, I had a lovely day at @V_and_a exploring depictions of breasts thru the ages and making lovely mammaries. I mean memories," she wrote.

"'I will throw you out of this museum with your naked breasts!' 'But I'm made of marble!' 'Oh sorry you're fine then,'" the woman tweeted taunting the museum.

The incident came days after the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) issued a number of recommendations highlighting the importance of breastfeeding.

Low breastfeeding rates

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world due to mixed social attitudes towards the practice. This is despite the fact that established medical evidence shows it protects babies from infection and improves their mental and physical development.

In its proposals, the RCPCH called for schools to include breastfeeding as part of compulsory personal, social and health education lessons, as taught at secondary schools to pupils from the age of 11.

It has also asked the government to bring in laws to ensure employers support breastfeeding through parental leave, feeding breaks and facilities for feeding or expressing milk.

RCPCH president Professor Neena Modi said: "Regrettably the attitudes of a large part of society mean breastfeeding is not always encouraged; local support is patchy, advice is not always consistent and often overly dogmatic, support in the workplace not always conducive to continued breastfeeding and perhaps most worryingly breastfeeding in public is still often stigmatised.

"It is no wonder that for many mothers, there are too many barriers."

After her own unpleasant experience, Joyce has also supported the RCPCH's suggestions. She said the reason it was "important" was because "embarrassment about breastfeeding [is] still one of the most common reasons that women give up".

World Breastfeeding Week
Kat Joyce said the incident has left her 'perplexed - Representational image EZEQUIEL BECERRA /Getty