AlternaMoms Unite!
Frequently Asked Questions
I'm hoping that this list of questions will help you understand the AlternaMom concept.
Who is an AlternaMom?
What is the purpose behind AMU?
What is a "sheeple"?  What is a "newbie"?
Is AMU! politically correct?
What is the policy on swearing in the Forums?
Are there any taboo topics at AMU!?
Why are you so hostile toward bottle feeders? I tried to breastfeed, and couldn't because [insert medical reason here].  I am very hurt and insulted by your attitude.
Why do I have to go through hoops to read your forums?  Don't you think you're losing potentially good members by making people do this?
I saw a reference to a forum that I don't recognize the name of - what's up?
I registered, posted an intro, and then got this email from someone calling herself my Guidess.  Did you sell my name or something?

Who is an AlternaMom?

An AlternaMom is any woman who, above all else, QUESTIONS and THINKS FOR HERSELF. AlternaMoms usually know more about pregnancy and childbirth than the average woman.  These things are a passion to her.  She may be a doula, midwife, or harbor secret desires to become one of these.  AlternaMoms are "birth junkies" and will usually admit this readily!  She probably started out with her first pregnancy wanting the best for her baby (like all moms do) and decided that having a drug free birth was the best way to go for her.  Some go farther and decide that having her baby at home is better than at a hospital.  Some even go so far as to want to birth their babies without any medical professionals at all.  Before they know it, they are questioning everything - vaccinations, circumcision, public schools.  It can be very lonely, especially since these things are so "mainstream."  This can make the AlternaMom very defensive of her choices, to the point of being labeled "militant."  What is seen as militant by the rest of society, however, is only the AlternaMom's love for babies and children, all of them, and the desire to see all children brought up in a manner that is best for them. 

With these things in mind, there are four things that are the foundation of the AMU! community.  These are:

1) Breastfeeding is a child's birthright; human milk is the standard in infant nutrition, formula is substandard. Included in this is he child's right to nurse until s/he no longer has the need for it.  The Ten Commandments of Breastfeeding expands on this.

 2) Everyone has the right to an intact body/genitalia.   All children have the right to an intact body - infant circumcision of either gender for any reason is abusive and the pro-circumcision viewpoint will NOT be tolerated at AMU!. Human rights come before religious/social pressures.  This can also be expanded to the overuse of the episiotomy in modern medicalized childbirth, and most AlternaMoms are against infant ear piercing as well. 

3) Parents should have the same respect for their children as they would have for an adult - meaning no crying-it-out alone, no shameful discipline and no spanking.  We are advocates for gentle discipline and positive parenting.

4) BIRTH MATTERS. Birth isn't just about procreation - it's about the creation of a mother, and as everyone knows, mothers are the fiercest creatures on this planet. If we do not treat birthing mothers with the honor and respect they deserve, that first link in the chain that creates emotionally healthy, responsible adults is weakened or broken. We need to put our faith in the power of womyn's bodies to birth their babies.
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What is the purpose behind AMU?

Founder Heather Kalisiak (aka KaliMama) created AMU! in late July 1998 as a haven for womyn who were sick of being banned, deleted, and threatened at several mainstream parenting sites, most notably ParentsPlace.com.  As the website grew, she bribed, I mean enlisted, the help of her husband Chris (the one who "knows more about you than Santa") to help with the technical aspects of running the forums.  Together H&C are The Powers That Be (despite the fact that they don't like playing Big Brother) and will do whatever they feel necessary to keep AMU! a safe haven for the wise womyn they know and love.  This is a hobby for them, not a business, and it is this distinction that allows them to make policies that would not work at a commercial site.

AMU! was when it was created, is now, and will continue to be a haven for these womyn and others who parent outside the mainstream.  While we welcome new users, please realize that this is not an online school for "how to become an AlternaMom".  The fact that this website has changed so many people and made them better parents is a wonderful thing, but it's a side effect, a benefit - not the main purpose of this website.
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What is a "sheeple"? What is a "newbie"?

The term "sheeple" did not originate with AlternaMoms Unite! - it is apparently much older than that.  It usually refers to "sheep people", those who follow along blindly with the mainstream, never questioning anything, only listening to the "experts" in whatever field they are dealing with. 

"Newbie" is another term that does not originate with AMU!.  It means anyone who is a newcomer to the Internet in general and/or a website in particular.
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Is AMU! politically correct?

NO WAY!!! NOT EVEN CLOSE!!  If you're looking for a place where everyone agrees with everyone else, then you have come to the wrong place!  We disagree, even among the regulars here.  We all come from different experiences and have different children.  We are also mature adults who can learn to "agree to disagree."  If you can't live with these rules, then you need to go someplace else.

Furthermore, I for one am really sick of having to label every post I write on a controversial subject with IMHO or IMO or other such garbage.  This is inherently IMPLIED here.  We need to remember that the Internet as a means of communication is fundamentally flawed in that we can only read what is on the screen, with no body language or tone of voice to help in the communication of ideas.  It takes years and years of practice to be able to convey yourself over this medium.  I have been online for 10 years now, long before the explosion of the Web, and I still have trouble conveying my thoughts every now and then.  (You should have seen how many time I have rewritten this page!!) 
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What is the policy on swearing in the Forums?

We are adults here. As such, I feel that we should be responsible enough to use swear words properly. Therefore I have come up with these few guidelines: 

1) Anything that can be said on broadcast television can be said here.
2) No calling each other names. You can call Ezzo and his little groupies all the names you want. They deserve it. :-)
3) Please don't turn into a gutter mouth. Vulgarities should be used to make a point, not just for the sake of using them.
4) If/when a problem arises, I will deal with it then. 

If anyone has a problem with this, let me know. I know some people are against swearing due to personal convictions, and I respect that. I for one am all for self censorship, and I try to not use them myself, but sometimes you just have to call a bitch a bitch.
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Are there any taboo topics at AMU!?

Nope, not a one.  We did once, and it was a mistake on my part. 
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Why are you so hostile toward bottle feeders? I tried to breastfeed, and couldn't because [insert medical reason here].  I am very hurt and insulted by your attitude.

Firstly, if you were not mentioned BY NAME, then you are taking this a little too seriously.  If you have not been singled out, then whoever posted wasn't talking about you personally.

Also, please remember that AMU! is NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT.  We don't buy into the current train of thought that artificial baby milk is just as good as breastmilk - because it's not.  (See above.)  We refuse to tiptoe around moms who feed their children artificial milks just so they "don't feel guilty" because they didn't have the dedication to breastfeeding that some of us had.  And we do not believe that WE are the ones making these moms feel guilty; instead, we realize that NO ONE can make you feel guilty about ANYTHING  - YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF.

Furthermore, since AMU! is not PC, we don't feel the need to preface our posts about artificial baby milk users with a statement like "This post does not apply to those moms who, through a physical defect in either mom or babe, including severe illness, previous breast surgery or any other medical reason, cannot physically breastfeed their children" because the regulars here know that this is implied.

I fully realize that this attitude may inadvertently hurt some moms who tried to breastfeed and physically couldn't.  I'm sorry that this will happen.  But let us be realistic here.  In times past, how many babies REALLY died because they and their mothers couldn't breastfeed?  There were plenty of other options before the advent of commercial artificial baby milks, including wet nurses and donated breastmilk.  Unfortunately, because of the huge profits in the commercial artificial baby milk business, these means have practically become another lost art. 
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Why do I have to go through hoops to read your forums?  Don't you think you're losing potentially good members by making people do this?

The security at AMU! is very tight.  It's like that for several reasons, none of which are really relevant in this context, but they are all really long stories that get boring to repeat several gazillion times.  Suffice it to say that AMU! is probably one of the very few public places on the Internet where people can share their deepest, darkest secrets without the fear of their neighbors/friends who don't understand the concepts behind attachment parenting calling Child Protective Services.  If this causes us to lose a few people. then so be it.
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I saw a reference to a forum that I don't recognize the name of - what's up?

There are three levels of membership at AMU! - "normal", "member" and "moderator".  Moderator should be self-explanatory - these are the womyn that help Heather and Chris with AMU!.  When a person registers for a username they are in the "normal" category, with full posting privileges in the protected forums.  Once the moderators get to know a "normal" well enough - which happens through posting an introduction, fitting in well with the rest of the group, and becoming involved with the community - the person is upgraded to "member" and has access to a small handful of private forums, which are not accessible to the general public.  There is no time limit, required number of posts, or secret test to take.  Some people are upgraded right away; some are never upgraded.  The only "rule" to remember is "Don't ask to be upgraded - it annoys H&C".  :^)  This two-tier system of forums is for the benefit and protection of our core members and has been in place since February of 1999.
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I registered, posted an intro, and then got this email from someone calling herself my Guidess.  Did you sell my name or something?

No, we haven't sold your name - in fact, you can be assured that we will never do that. :^)

We created the Guidess program to help new users become more familiar with both the technical aspects and the dynamics of AMU!.  The Guidesses were chosen by H&C and the moderators because of their high involvement with AMU! - they have been here for a while and know the ins and outs of the community.  While you will soon be addicted to the style of forums we use here, they can be very confusing at first; most users also want to set up a sig line, or change their font size, or include a picture.  Your Guidess can help you these things.  Your Guidess can also help you with fitting into the community better.  If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask her.
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