Breastfeeding at risk: what it is and how to apply


  • 1 What is high-risk breastfeeding
  • 2 What is the law on unsafe breastfeeding
  • 3 High-risk breastfeeding and job duties
  • 4 What are the risk factors for breastfeeding 
  • 5 Breastfeeding, examples of risky jobs
  • 6 How the application for unsafe breastfeeding is presented

When you are expecting a baby and you intend to breastfeed, one of the problems that the working mother faces is: “But what will I do when I have to go back to work? How will I be able to continue breastfeeding if I have to be away from home for 8 hours? ". It's a legitimate question because reconciling the two seems a bit complicated. In some ways, however, it is not. In addition to enjoying the hours of leave to breastfeed (2 for those who work 6 or more hours a day, otherwise only 1), employees have another right, still little known: that of so-called risky breastfeeding. Let's see what it is and how it can be achieved.

What is high-risk breastfeeding

By high-risk breastfeeding we mean breastfeeding carried out in a whole series of work situations that can in some way compromise the mother's health and the goodness of her milk. It is therefore a question of jobs in which the woman is in contact with dangerous agents or with many people, who can be the vehicle of diseases or carry out risky behaviors. In these cases - which we will now analyze in detail - the working mother can ask to do a different type of job or, if this is not possible, to stay at home to look after her baby while still receiving the normal salary.

What is the law on unsafe breastfeeding

There is a very specific rule that deals with breastfeeding at risk: it is the legislative decree n. 151 of 26 March 2001. The “Consolidated Text of the legislative provisions regarding the protection and support of maternity and paternity, pursuant to art. 15 of the law of 8 March 2000 ”governs, among other things, the safety at work of a pregnant and lactating woman. In a way, it's also one more way to encourage new mothers to breastfeed, which we know is the best source of nourishment for every baby. Let's see how.

High-risk breastfeeding and job duties

The first thing that mother and employer have to do together is to evaluate whether the assigned task is compatible with breastfeeding: if his duties risk jeopardizing him or being harmful to health, he will have to try to find something different. For example, if you are a teacher, you may be moved from the classroom to the library management. If there is no solution, then you can be released from work for a variable period of time.

What are the risk factors for breastfeeding 

The main factors that could put breastfeeding at risk are 3:

  1. physical agents: if the mother is exposed to radiation (for example, if she works in radiology) or to very loud noises (above 90 decibels) or to situations with excessive heat or cold, she can be protected for 7 months after giving birth. If, on the other hand, her work involves strong vibrations (such as on ships or trains), she can benefit from risky breastfeeding for the first 3 months;
  2. biological agents: they are mothers who, for example, work in infectious disease wards, in psychiatry, in schools (children are little “spreaders” of many contagious diseases, from colds to gastrointestinal viruses), in livestock farms. The abstention lasts 7 months;
  3. chemical agents: the working woman can be protected for 7 months after childbirth if her profession requires her to come into contact with paints, solvents, gases, powders, fumes, mercury and derivatives, lead and derivatives, pesticides, toxic, corrosive, explosive substances or flammable.

There is also a fourth class of jobs considered risky and includes professions in which considerable effort is required, prolonged postures, activities on stairs and scaffolding or on moving vehicles (trains, buses, etc.). In these cases, the protection is for 3 months after the birth. However, for tiring, unhealthy or dangerous jobs, the abstention or change of duties can be extended up to 7 months. In the case of night work (from 24 to 6), breastfeeding can be exempted up to one year after giving birth, up to 3 years on request and up to 12 if she is a single mother.

Breastfeeding, examples of risky jobs

Summarizing a bit all the risk factors, here are some examples of professions that could pose a danger to a new mother: workers, waitresses, cooks, hairdressers, shop assistants, doctors, nurses, teachers (including support), educators or operators in community (for example, for disabled people, drug addicts, psychiatric patients), social and health workers, domestic or school workers and others.

How is the application for unsafe breastfeeding

Within 30 days of the birth, the working mother must present the child's birth certificate to her employer. For the first 3 months you will take normal maternity leave (the months could be 4 if you have chosen to work until the eighth month of pregnancy, so that you have one month of maternity before the birth and 4 after). Upon returning from maternity leave, the employer and the mother will assess whether there are any dangers to breastfeeding: if so, she will be assigned to a different and non-risky task until the baby is 7 months old. In this case, an application must be submitted to the Provincial Labor Directorate (the forms can be downloaded from the website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies).

If the change of job cannot be made, the mother has to abstain from work until the 100th month of the baby. You must therefore submit a written communication to the Provincial Labor Directorate. As this is a type of compulsory leave, the salary will be XNUMX%. It is anticipated by the employer who will then be reimbursed by the INPS.

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