Don’t feel bad at all!! Whatever gets your baby growing is the best solution!! You’re doing a great job!
My baby is a month old and I was having some issues with breastfeeding in the first two weeks, so I’ve been reading a lot and talking to lactation consultants/my pediatrician about this issue. Here’s my total non-expert advice, based on the advice experts recently gave me. Feel free to completely disregard if this doesn’t sound like it will help! This is just what has helped me in the past two weeks.
If you’re supplementing, make sure that your boobs are still like drained every 2-3 hours to keep your supply up. If you give the baby a bottle for a feeding, still pump at that time. If your boobs are given a break, I guess that starts to signal to your body to produce less milk, and it’s harder to keep the supply up. So like, I was waking up one or two times a night to pump even if my baby wasn’t breastfeeding then, and that has helped a lot with supply.
Also, apparently there’s this thing called “cluster feeding” where babies will eat VERY FREQUENTLY for little stretches. Its really common at night. So my baby was literally eating almost constantly with very short breaks every night between like 9:30 pm and 12:30 am. It freaked me out, but I’ve been told that this is totally normal, and the baby nursing for all of that time will help trigger your body to up the supply. My baby was cluster feeding for a few weeks, and she still wants to nurse a lot more during the late evening, but it’s progressively lessened over the past couple of weeks. So if that’s happening to you, I would let the baby nurse during that whole time to help up your supply, and then if he still seems hungry, give him a bottle too!
Also (last thing I promise! Sorry for the rambly message; I just feel like you sound so much like me so maybe your issues are similar): Nipple shields. They aren’t the solution for everyone, and apparently for some people they cause more problems, but my baby latched SO MUCH BETTER and ate so much more effectively with a nipple shield. The lactation consultant said I should be able to phase them out once she gets used to nursing, but that hasn’t worked yet, and honestly, I don’t care if I ever phase them out. She eats so much more and is gaining weight so much better since I’ve started using them. Also, my nipples aren’t all cracked and blistered anymore, so bonus! Haha
I hope some of this helps! Just know that whatever you do, you’re doing a good job!! Formula is an amazing creation of modern science, and if it helps your baby grow in a way that breast milk isn’t doing right now, then it’s totally the right move to supplement. Hugs to you!