Popular South African family restaurant chain, Spur, has found its breastfeeding policy brought to the limelight after a customer posted a photo of their signage in store and praised it on Facebook last week. Initially implemented in January 2016, Spur’s breastfeeding policy has been effective in all of their stores countrywide for the past two and half years, although not many mums were aware of this.
Spur restaurants are known for being family-friendly and thus welcomes breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding plays an important role in early childhood development due to its health and well-being benefits. We encourage all our franchisees to provide a friendly and safe place for women to breastfeed, and also to display the policy, so as to alert other customers,” says Moshe Apleni, spokesperson for the Spur Group.
“We need to support a breastfeeding culture in South Africa before we can expect a rise in our breastfeeding statistics.”
According to the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR), breastfeeding rates in South Africa are among the lowest in the world. This is despite the fact that breastfeeding mums are lawfully permitted two 30-minute breaks in a day to breastfeed/express for the first six months of their child’s life, as stipulated in the Code of Good Practice, which forms a part of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).
Even though South African women are lawfully permitted and encouraged to breastfeed in public, it is still met with disapproval. Spur’s breastfeeding policy recognises the need for breastfeeding in public to become more normalised and encourages the following in all of their stores:
- A woman is permitted to breastfeed a baby in any area accessed by the public.
- No one may ask the woman to cover up the act of breastfeeding, or ask the woman to breastfeed in a designated area to the area she has chosen.
- Please display the “Breastfeeding Friendly” signage in a prominent place to ensure that women do not feel they need to seek permission.
- If the restaurant is busy and/or too loud, please prepare a quiet, secluded spot with suitable seating where a woman may choose as a breastfeeding spot, should she or the child want. No one may insist or coerce a woman to breastfeed in this quiet spot.
- Staff training must include this Breastfeeding Policy and staff shall be encouraged to create a positive, welcoming atmosphere for breastfeeding women and children. In the instance where a customer complains to staff about breastfeeding taking place in your restaurant, please display this policy to the customer. [sic]
Abigail Courtenay, registered dietitian and Executive Portfolio Member of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ASDA), believes the more women the public sees breastfeeding, the closer we get to normalising the act of breastfeeding. “This breastfeeding policy by Spur is a step in the right direction as it helps to empower breastfeeding mothers to feel confident about nursing their infants in public. We need to support a breastfeeding culture in South Africa before we can expect a rise in our breastfeeding statistics. We salute Spur and encourage other restaurants and companies to follow suit,” says Courtenay.
The breastfeeding policy has gained more awareness in this past week with an overwhelming amount of positivity, especially from mums. Saaleha Seedat, principal of Montessori by the Sea in the south of Durban, hailed Spur’s policy as heart-warming and brilliant. “As a mother of four who breastfed all of my kids, one of my main concerns for the first six months of my children’s lives, was ‘Will I be able to feed my baby without any hassle when I go out?’” said Seedat.