For some mothers, the connection between their breasts and baby’s appetite may happen instantly. For others, like Hamilton Community Health Network physician assistant Charisse Hook, day-to-day breastfeeding can be a bit of a struggle.

Hamilton Community Health Network Physician Assistant Charisse Hook breastfeeds her 4 month old son. She says the journey is getting better.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” explains Hook.

She says she is having more success breastfeeding her 4 ½-month-old son this time around than she had with her daughter nine years ago, but it is still a challenge. Hook says she believes the size of a mother’s breast matters.

Lactation consultant Shonte Terhune says breast size does not determine how much milk a

mother can produce.

“There is no research that says the size of your breast will determine your milk supply, but there is a small percentage of women – about 15 to 20 percent – who may not be able to have a full milk supply.”

Terhune says there can be many underlying issues that mothers have, and may not know exist. Mothers may have fertility issues, hypoplastic breasts, coned breasts, hormone issues, just to name a few. Terhune says these are some conditions that can affect a mother’s milk supply.

Hook is determined to stick with breastfeeding her son, even after returning to work.

“Right now, I have to live with him getting half supplement and half breast milk. It’s a struggle with my schedule,” Hook explains. She says it’s hard to incorporate pumping during the day.

“They block my schedule in the morning and the afternoon, but sometimes with the patient load, or the flow, I don’t have enough time.”

Though breastfeeding takes time, mothers can definitely save money. Since Hook feeds her son breast milk and formula, she says she saves around 50 percent in feeding costs.

“The average case of formula from Walmart or Meijer would last me about a week. That would cost around $28 to $30. I would say that’s $100 a month. I’m doing about half, so I guess I’m saving about $50.”

Breastfeeding brings a close bond between mother and baby. Terhune says, “It gives moms a feel-good hormone.”

“That helps increase milk supply. I always tell moms that skin-to-skin is good.  It’s that contact of mom being able to look at baby, baby being able to look at mom.”

In turn, Terhune says this helps increase a mother’s milk supply.

“Some moms bring the baby blanket or something they can smell from the baby when they pump. It makes them feel good and it increases their milk production.”

Hook, a breastfeeding mom, and Terhune, a former breastfeeding mom and lactation consultant both say getting help with breastfeeding is important.

“We call it liquid gold. Every drop counts,” explains Hook. “Whether you’re in the medical field or not, utilize the services of a lactation consultant.”

“I always tell moms to try to get help early,” Terhune insists. “Getting a good assessment of mom and the baby is important to determine any issues that can be happening.”

Many mothers try personal treatments found on websites, or hear about teas, oatmeal, lactation cookies and more.

“I always tell moms to consult their pediatricians,” Terhune suggests.

Lastly, Terhune encourages mothers if they are going to join Facebook groups about breastfeeding, to make sure there is a certified lactation counselor in the group.

Genesee County Health Department Lactation Consultant Shonte Terhune gives tips and guidance to a new mother, struggling to breastfeed her son.

Terhune is a health educator with Genesee County Health Department. She visits Hamilton Community Health Network’s Main Clinic (2900 N. Saginaw Street, Flint, Michigan) during the Obstetrics (OB) Clinic. The hours are from 2 to 5 p.m. on Mondays and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays.

If you would like to contact Shonte Terhune, she can be reached by email:

Terhune is also available to help with breast feeding services at Hamilton Community Health Network’s Mommy Talk, Lunch on Us discussion group. Expectant mothers are able to come together, get advice from one another and from local resources as they improve their baby’s health and their own. The program is the second Thursday of each month, from noon to 2 p.m. at Hamilton’s North Pointe Clinic, located at 5710 Clio Road, Flint, Michigan 48504. Giveaways and incentives are made possible by a partnership with HAP. For more information about Mommy Talk, Lunch on Us, contact Amy Bacon, Health Educator:

RSVP for the next Mommy Talk session.