Natural and organic food retailer Whole Foods Market has announced the start in September of "Whole Baby," an informative program for expectant mothers.

The Whole Baby programme is a natural companion for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, helping moms-to-be gear up for their growing families by providing information on nutrition and lifestyle topics ranging from prenatal care to baby's first foods.

"As your body changes and your baby develops, a wholesome diet full of important nutrients is top priority," said Jody Villecco, food and nutrition quality standards coordinator at Whole Foods Market. "The Whole Baby program was developed to help moms-to-be smoothly transition into healthy motherhood using practical tips for achieving a well-rounded diet and incorporating a more natural lifestyle."

Whole Baby will provide natural parenting information in the form of free educational booklets available at Whole Foods Market stores. These easy-to-use guides contain money-saving coupons for natural products and information highlighting nutrition and lifestyle recommendations important to women during and after pregnancy.

There will also be free Whole Baby sample kits. These reusable canvas tote bags will be distributed through a national network of childbirth education partners such as registered nurses and doulas.

The bags contain product samples, information and special offers from Burt's Bees, Earth's Best, Hyland's, Mothering magazine, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farms and Traditional Medicinals for redemption at Whole Foods Market stores. Educational materials perfect for those curious about healthy parenting options will also be included.

Whole Foods Market is also partnering with Mothering magazine to implement a Whole Baby lecture series this fall focusing on the joys and key elements of natural pregnancy and childbirth. These free talks will start in New York City on Sept. 22, followed by Philadelphia on Sept. 26, Chicago on Oct. 12 and Atlanta on Oct. 15. Registration for these limited-seating events is at: www.wholebabylecture.com.

The lectures will offer shoppers an opportunity to learn from national experts, including Whole Foods Market's top nutritionist, Jody Villecco. Villecco will discuss dietary building blocks for healthy mothers and babies and will share recipes for making natural baby food and quick, nutritious smoothies. Through her extensive knowledge and passion for health and nutrition, she will show moms-to-be how to obtain the extra nourishment they need and which foods to avoid while pregnant. Editorial staff from Mothering magazine, which for 30 years has provided readers with the latest information on raising healthy children naturally, will bring expertise and humour to the lectures, suggesting body care for pregnancy pampering and offering advice on natural products, breastfeeding, baby care and beyond.

Parents often discover Whole Foods Market for the first time when they begin thinking about moving toward a healthy lifestyle with the birth of a baby, and they find peace of mind in the assurance that Whole Foods Market only stocks foods free of artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and hydrogenated oils. Many remain Whole Foods Market shoppers after their children are born to continue providing natural and organic foods and products to their families.

"Working side-by-side with Whole Foods Market on the Whole Baby program is a natural extension of our mission," said Peggy O'Mara, editor and publisher of Mothering magazine. "Our magazine recognizes parents as experts and provides them with information upon which they can base informed choices. Whole Foods Market has a very similar relationship of trust with its shoppers, so we're very excited about working together on the Whole Baby initiative."