Sarah Remmer: The Non-Diet Dietitian


Formula For Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women?!

This company may have hit an all-time-nutritional-supplement-low with this new product

I have heard rumors about this "Mom Formula" over the past year or so, but never thought that a company would actually release a product that would encourage grown and capable women and mothers to trade in real foods for, well, formula. This baffles me. I get it—life is busy and it's hard to always eat balanced, healthy meals and snacks and make sure to get all of your nutrients in every day. I also get that if you are pregnant, you want the best for your growing baby—you want him or her to receive all of the nutrients possible in-utero and develop properly, both physically and neurologically.

Unfortunately, Similac went ahead and created a product that promises all of this and more. In fact, it promises to "help develop baby's brain, bones and vision while at the same time keeping Mom healthy and happy during pregnancy and breastfeeding." So, not only will your baby be as healthy as can be, but you, as the mom, will also be healthy and HAPPY!


I sure as hell would not be happy if I was drinking formula. 

This product has 42 ingredients (if I counted correctly on the label), several of which most people could not pronounce. It also contains 31 grams of carbohydrates (all of which are from sugar)—equivalent to almost 8 teaspoons worth, which, in a 235 mls serving, is almost equivalent to the amount of sugar in a 355 mls can of regular coke. Yep, it's like drinking vitamin, mineral and Omega-3-fortified coke. 

Although I feel strongly that breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your baby, I am not opposed to infant formula. In fact, I had to supplement my little guy with the stuff for the second half of his first year of life. It was essential to my baby's health, and for that, I'm thankful to have had access to it. What I don't agree with though, is targeting vulnerable, tired, otherwise healthy and capable women, making them think that the only way their baby will receive proper nutrition, and therefore develop properly, is to consume this god-awful beverage. I also don't appreciate the fact that the marketing for this "Mom-Formula" suggests that this product will make them "happy." I translate this marketing message into "it's nearly impossible for you to feed your growing baby properly on your own, and let's face it, making healthy meals and snacks is just too much work for you, so don't you worry, here's your answer to both of your problems." Ugh, give me a freaking break. 

Let's quickly run through all of the key nutrients that Similac highlights in this product (all of which are essential for a healthy pregnancy and healthy infant development):

Protein: You can receive protein from several foods in our food supply, including meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy products, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. 

Iron: You can find iron in meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, fortified whole grain products, certain vegetables AND in your prenatal multivitamin. If you are eating plant-based food sources of iron, it is important to also consume foods that are high in vitamin C to help with absorption. It's easy. If you have vegetarian chili, have an orange for dessert. 

Calcium: You can find calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese and non-milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk etc. You will also likely receive approximately 300 mg of calcium per day from other non-dairy foods in your diet and if you are taking a pre-natal multivitamin (which you should be), you will receive another (approximately) 300 mg. If, for some reason you are still not getting your 1200mg per day, you can take an additional calcium supplement. 

Vitamin D: It is nearly impossible to consume enough Vitamin D from food unless you're drinking a lot of milk and eating a tonne of fish. That's why I usually suggest to everyone in Canada to take a Vitamin D supplement, regardless if they are pregnant or not. Pre-natal multivitamins contain approximately 200-400 international units (IU) already, so if you take a 400 IU-1000 IU on top of that, you're getting enough. 

Folic Acid: If you are diligently taking your pre-natal multi-vitamin, you're receiving enough folic acid for the health of your baby. If you are also consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, as well as fortified grain products (which I assume most of you are), you're getting plenty of this important B-Vitamin. 

Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acid is very important for the growth and development of baby's brain, nervous system and eyes, especially in the first trimester. It's important that you consume two servings of oily, low-mercury fish per week, such as salmon, light flaked tuna, halibut, trout etc. OR that you take a daily Omega-3 supplement (especially in your first trimester) that contains approximately 500-1000 mg of DHA and EPA combined to receive enough Omega-3. 

What I'm saying, is that if you eat a fairly balanced, healthy diet with sources of lean protein, healthy fats, fruits and veggies and whole grains most of the time, and take your pre-natal multivitamin, vitamin D (and maybe your Omega-3) supplements, you are doing what you need to do nutrition-wise to grow a healthy baby. If you are feeling nauseous in your pregnancy and you just can't stomach most foods, try a smoothie with yogurt, milk, fruit and oats. This seems a lot more appealing to me than a bottle of formula. How about you?