So Maybe This Isn't Just a Story of Breastfeeding Mommy vs. Formula-Feeding Doula?

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A doula sued for allegedly feeding a baby formula against a breastfeeding mother’s wishes claims that she was falsely accused as a “bully tactic.” Doula Marcia Chase-Marshall now alleges she had permission from the mother, Lynn Wojton, to feed the baby formula. She claims the high-profile lawsuit against her is retribution for a previous one she filed against Chase-Marshall.

Which means that, oh no, the media’s giddy narrative of breastfeeding mommy vs. formula-feeding doula gets a wee bit more complicated.

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As the New York Post previously reported in March, Wojton hired Chase-Marshall to help with night-time breastfeeding. “Chase-Marshall slept in the same room as [the baby] and would wake up Wojton...whenever the baby needed milk,” the Post reported. But one night, according to the Post, Chase-Marshall “allegedly sneaked the child formula while Wojton slept because she was tired and didn’t want to assist the first-time mom with the longer process of breastfeeding.”

At the time, Wojton told the paper, “This is not what I wanted—this is not what I want—for my baby,” she said of the formula feeding. “I cried for an hour, honestly.” So, she took the doula to court, seeking at least $10,000 in damages, and the case was covered everywhere from the Daily Mail to USA Today.

This story, as reported in the press, was a perfect dramatic rendering of the media-driven narrative over the breastfeeding battle. On one side: The litigious mom who cries for an hour over the evils of formula! On the other: The lazy doula sneakily cutting corners to get some sleep! Everybody’s awful, nobody wins!

Now, though, Chase-Marshall denies Wojton’s claims. In new court papers, Chase-Marshall claims she was concerned Wojton wasn’t producing enough breastmilk and told the mother “that the baby’s feedings should be supplemented with formula so as not to starve the baby,” according to the Post. Wojton “reluctantly agreed,” according to the documents.

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The documents also include alleged text messages between the pair. In one text, Chase-Marshall allegedly wrote to Wojton: “Just about done Breast feeding! Can you come in and grab her. She may need just a few mouth fills of formula.” The following day, Wojton allegedly texted Chase-Marshall: “If you think you need to give her some formula you can. Then I can do the next feeding.” The day after that last text, Chase-Marshall says she was fired. The following month, she sued Wojton. “She was paid $4,200 but sued Wojton on Oct.4 in Pennsylvania, where she lives, for the rest of the $8,400 that she says she would have made if she’d been able to finish out her six-month contract,” reports the Post.

The new court papers allege that Wojton’s lawsuit over the baby formula “is based on a false premise, was filed for retribution and as a bully tactic, and appears to have been a means for the plaintiff to get her name in the newspaper.” Wojton’s lawyer declined comment to the Post. As a result of the suit, Chase-Marshall says she has faced “a deluge of vitriol” with people calling her, among other things, “pretty lazy” and “not someone to trust with your child.”

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Wojton, of course, has also been the subject of critique and playfully mocking headlines like this one from USA Today: “Breastfeeding mom so upset her baby was fed formula she sues for $10,000.” The Post’s latest piece also provides the subtle troll of letting us know that Wojton’s daughter “is doing fine,” even after that alleged night of formula feeding.

In the court of public opinion, both of these women lose, which is any headline-making “mommy war” in sum.

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