Protest ... Regan Matthews, centre, is standing by her version of events.

Protest ... Regan Matthews, centre, is standing by her version of events. Photo: Tamara Dean

A Sydney cafe owner who this week sparked a protest by asking a mother not to breastfeed on her premises says she has been subjected to a cyberbullying campaign.

Ash Houghton, the owner of Newtown's Satellite cafe, said she had received threats, including calls for the business's windows to be smashed and hopes that it burns down.

Breaking her silence to the media on the incident, Ms Houghton said she had not told customer Regan Matthews that breastfeeding in public was "an offence to humanity", as was quoted, but admitted to asking her to stop nursing her nine-month-old son on Saturday.

"Nurse in" ... about 50 people gathered outside Newtown's Satellite cafe.

"Nurse in" ... about 50 people gathered outside Newtown's Satellite cafe. Photo: Tamara Dean

"My comment about humanity was that 'humanity has rights' when they tried to tell me business owners don't have any rights, which I think is a real insult, to be honest," she said.

The cafe made several attempts to apologise for the incident, which sparked a fierce reaction on social media and a "nurse-in" protest of about 50 people on Tuesday.

Ms Houghton, who stayed away from the Wilson Street cafe on Tuesday, said while trade had not been affected, the cafe had received threats over the phone and online.

<b>Sydney, NSW; January 2013 </b> - Up to 200 women protest outside the Sunrise studios on Jan 21, 2013 after host David Koch said that women should be ‘more discreet and modest’’ when breastfeeding in public. Picture at left from Twitter, at right from Sunrise Nurse-in Facebook page. Click for more photos

Breastfeeding protests around the world

Sydney, NSW; January 2013 - Up to 200 women protest outside the Sunrise studios on Jan 21, 2013 after host David Koch said that women should be ‘more discreet and modest’’ when breastfeeding in public. Picture at left from Twitter, at right from Sunrise Nurse-in Facebook page.

  • <b>Sydney, NSW; January 2013 </b> - Up to 200 women protest outside the Sunrise studios on Jan 21, 2013 after host David Koch said that women should be ‘more discreet and modest’’ when breastfeeding in public. Picture at left from Twitter, at right from Sunrise Nurse-in Facebook page.
  • <b>Woonona, NSW; January 2013 </b> Mums in in the Illawarra region show their support for the Sunrise nurse-in by breastfeeding at the picturesque Woonona pools. Picture: Ellen McNally, Facebook.
  • <b>Bribie Island, QLD: January 2013 </b> approximately 30 mothers breastfeed around the pool at the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre after mother Liana Webster was asked by a staff member to cover up or move when breastfeeding her baby several days earlier. Picture: Channel Nine
  • <b>Costa Rica, Brazil; January 2013</b> Around 50 mothers attended a 'mamaton' in a shopping centre food court, sparked by one woman's run-in with a security guard - she had been asked her to stop breastfeeding her 11-month-old in public, being told she should move to the parents' room. It set off a social media storm, with even the president adding his voice to the support for the women.
  • <b>Georgia, USA; September 2012</b> Mothers around America joined in nurse-ins at different Applebee's restaurants last year. The events were sparked when a woman, who was breastfeeding her 20-month-old in a back booth of a Covington Applebee's, was told to move to the toilets or leave. She refused to do either, and the manager called the police. There was widespread support for the Applebee's nurse-ins.
  • Other images from the Applebee's nurse-ins.
  • <b>Dublin, Ireland; June 2012</b> As part of their rule against hosting nude photos, Facebook regularly removes images of women breastfeeding from the site. A group of 40 women attended a protest at Facebook's Dublin office while other women gathered at offices around the world, all campaigning to have breastfeeding photos allowed on the site. Facebook didn't respond to their requests.
  • <b>Bristol, UK; July 2012</b> More than 200 breastfeeding mothers descended on a cafe to support one woman, who had been berated by a waitress for feeding her baby at a table. 'You see girls in nightclubs barely wearing any clothes all the time, so why would someone have a problem with me feeding my child?" the mother said.
  • <b>Columbia, USA; March 2012</b> In Columbia, Georgia, anyone caught breastfeeding in public face charges of indecent exposure and a maximum fine of $1000. When mum Nirvana Jeannette was asked to leave her church for breastfeeding her 4-month-old, and police told her she could be arrested for indecent exposure, she organised protests across the area. Signs read "Breast Milk: The Original Happy Meal" and "If adults can eat in public, so can babies."
  • <b>Brighton, England; December 2011</b> Claire Jones-Hughes was breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter in a restaurant, after having "gone to a lot of effort to be discreet", when another group complained it was "unpleasant" and that she "should cover up more". To raise awareness of breastfeeding laws, she organised a nurse-in in a local public square, which was attended by 40 breastfeeding mums.
  • <b>Texas, USA; December 2011</b> One mum's bad experience at a Target store - while breastfeeding, staff surrounded her and told her she'd have to do it in a changing room - led to a national nurse-in in other stores in the chain. Around 50 women attended the event in Webster, Texas, where the original incident had taken place.
  • <b>Forest Park, Georgia, USA; May 2011</b> In 2011, this city council passed a public indecency law, saying women are unable to breastfeed in public once their child turns two. Around 200 women showed up for a nurse in in front of the city hall. "Breastfeeding women have to take a stand against laws like this or the laws will become even worse," said one woman. "Next, they'll say you can only nurse infants up to the age of one."
  • <b>Montreal, Canada; January 2011</b> Shannon Smith was shopping in a children's store when the youngest of her three children was hungry. She moved to a corner to feed her five month old, covering her with a blanket, but was asked to leave the store. After Smith wrote a blog post detailing her experience, around 100 mums held nurse-ins at shopping centres in protest.

"There was no way in hell I was going to turn up to a bunch of people that have been so vicious to me online," she said.

Ms Houghton said she had approached a breastfeeding Ms Matthews to say, "Look, this is just not something we encourage" in light of earlier complaints from two customers about a separate incident involving another mother.

"And they just attacked," she said.

Ms Houghton also claims she did not say that breastfeeding was "disgusting", rather directed the remark at Ms Matthews' friend, who ridiculed the request.

"She laughed it off and that's when I said 'that's disgusting', referring to her reaction," she said, adding the friend was not a "legal witness" to events.

But the cafe owner said her apology stands and "I've learnt my lesson".

"Despite the intention as a small business owner to advocate for the comfort of all my patrons, I acknowledge that it is not my place to comment on the discretion of individual mothers to breastfeed in public," she said.

But Ms Matthews would be welcome back only with the assurance she did not support the vitriol that has been directed at the cafe, said Ms Houghton.

"She's the one who had the power to stop that from actually happening but she didn't so I see that as endorsing it, which is incredibly cruel," she said.

But Ms Matthews, who stands by her version of events, said she did not condone the threats against the cafe and was "really really sad to hear that there is a minority of people who are taking this to the extreme and being abusive".

"And if I knew anyone that was making threats I would be reporting them to the police," she said.

The mother of two said the protest was about educating people, not revenge, and she was "disappointed" Ms Houghton would not take responsibility for her comments.

"I'm trying to give her the chance to admit what she said and give me a proper apology. If she can't do that, then I will be taking further [legal] action," she said.

Lactivist Australia spokeswoman Victoria Brookman accused the cafe of trying to use some of the online reaction to distract from the main point.

"Which is they broke the law by villifying Regan for breastfeeding her child in their cafe," she said.

"That's completely unacceptable and that's why there's been such a big outcry about it."