Mother’s milk on the menu
Breast-feeding in public is a touchy subject in South Africa‚ with some people believing they have a right to complain or try to prevent moms from feeding their babies in fulll view of others.
Restaurant chain Spur is leading the fight against the moral police by actively encouraging breast-feeding at its branches.
“Spur is a family-friendly restaurant‚ which places a great amount of emphasis on families‚ especially children, hence breast-feeding is welcomed at Spur‚” its official policy says.
Happy customer Chantell Witten shared a photograph of Spur’s breast-feeding policy on Facebook on Monday.
The policy acknowledges that breast-feeding plays an important role in early childhood development.
“No-one may ask women to cover up the act of breast-feeding‚ or ask women to breastfeed in a designated area [different] to the area they have chosen,” it says.
Spur has told all its restaurants to display the “breastfeeding welcome” sign in a prominent place to ensure that women do not feel they need to seek permission.
It advises staff: “If the restaurant is busy and/or too loud‚ please prepare a quiet‚ secluded spot with suitable seating which women may choose as a breast-feeding spot‚ should they want. No-one may coerce or insist that women breastfeed in this quiet spot.”
Spur’s open-minded policy on breast-feeding has not always been in place‚ however.
Commenting on social media‚ Samantha Ferns recalled an earlier‚ “awful” experience at Spur that made her scared to breast-feed in public again.
“My very hungry twins must have been eight weeks old and I thought Spur would be an OK place to feed (covered up),” she wrote. “I had eight waitresses wanting to watch and harass me. It was very traumatic for a new mom.”
Spur spokesperson Moshe Apleni said its policy was implemented in January 2016.
“Women are lawfully permitted to breast-feed a child in public in South Africa‚” he said.
Spur chief operating officer Mark Farrelly said SA could only grow by addressing its development challenges.
“By normalising breast-feeding in our restaurants‚ we play our small part in contributing to the development of future leaders‚” he said.