The truth is that breastfeeding and following the simple but strict lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM) rules is over 98% effective as contraception - as good as condoms. The LAM rules are that your baby
No one is claiming that LAM will suit everyone, yet it is still firmly established as a myth, and inconsistent advice is given by both healthcare professionals and official websites. This is in spite of research and guideliness from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Cochrane Collaboration and the World Health Organisation.
Does it really matter if we allow this myth to linger in the UK? At least we have access to free and safe abortion, and if hormonal contraception means a woman decides to switch to bottle-feeding then that’s no big deal. Not ideal perhaps, but at least we have clean drinking water and formula milk that isn’t outrageously expensive.
The thing is, myths travel, and this one can cause real damage in countries where formula costs a small fortune and bottles have to be made up with dirty water. Where a woman has the contraceptive injection because she has been told that is the only way to avoid pregnancy. Where, because the injection means her milk dries up, she switches to formula milk. Where the cost of formula milk means she no longer has enough money to buy food for herself and the rest of her family. Where the lack of access to clean water… You know the rest...
This article was written for a Guardian Witness project - read all stories here and the full Guardian article: Access to family planning: your stories.
For references and more information about LAM.