When you think of Rebecca Minkoff, there's a good chance you think of great handbags, accessories, and chic city-style fashion. What you don't immediately think of is the mother of three behind the brand, better known as "Becky" to her immediate friends and family. For the second edition of Romper's Contain Yourself, we jumped at the chance to take a look inside Rebecca Minkoff's pumping drawer. Not only was the idea of a pumping drawer truly fascinating, but it allowed us to provide a firsthand look behind the curtain of this particular mom's routine and need for organization amid the chaos of raising three small children under the age of 8. For Minkoff, a pumping drawer was deemed necessary once she realized how seriously not cute having all of her supplies sprawled out on the kitchen counter looked.
"We spend most of our time there cooking, making lunches in the morning, and that’s when I pump when I am home," Minkoff tells Romper when we inquired about the drawer's kitchen location via email. "At night it’s after kids go to sleep and I am making tea or taking my vitamins, so it’s all close by." One look at Minkoff's modern black and chrome-styled kitchen inside her Brooklyn, New York, home doesn't immediately scream "pumping" palace. But when you see the designer in the comfort of her natural habitat with her son, Nico Valentine, who will be 1 in February, the pieces start to fall into place. Plus, Minkoff reassured us that no, all of her drawers are not this tidy and perfect. As she explains, "This is really it. If you were to open my other drawers, you would see the working mom of three kids."
You'll also notice that Minkoff has a mini freezer where she has stocked up an impressive supply of breastmilk for Nico. As a working mom, this was important for her — and she explains why in great detail during our Q&A below.
How do you keep your pumping drawer organized?
I keep it organized usually on the weekend by taking time to keep it clean and get the supplies ready. Pumping is NOT easy and to stay dedicated, I wanted a drawer to make me happy and incentivize me to keep going as long as I can.
Did your general organization get better or worse after having kids?
It’s never been great. I really have to thank my nanny who keeps my home somewhat in order. And after three, it’s a roller coaster. Most of the time it’s mild chaos. Then we get “crazy” on the weekends and clean our place like madmen. I love cleaning and am good at it when I can focus.
What are your pumping essentials? Did you discover these brands/items on your own or were they suggested by other moms, etc.?
I somehow discovered the Medela freestyle pump and was drawn toward it because it’s hands-free and battery-powered. For me to keep up with pumping at work, I had to be able to go into a meeting, meet with my design team, and be able to walk around without having to worry about an outlet. Then came my Balboa Baby cover. While it’s not the chicest, the wire changed everything to be able to see what I am doing and also when nursing. No more sticking your head into your cover to see if you got the pump on or baby latched. You can just look down, and no one else can see in! I also take a hand pump with me when I travel just in case I have battery issues or blow a fuse internationally (it’s happened before). My doula got it for me when I was in labor. I had huge doubts about the power of a hand pump, but MAN it works. The supplements I saw on Instagram and tried them. They boosted my supply almost immediately and I tell all new moms about them.
Do you have any pumping tips or tricks/advice you've been given or figured out on your own over the years?
If you want to EBF (feed a baby exclusively with breast milk) or EP (exclusively pump), take the opportunity when the baby is home and when your milk comes in to “trick” your body into continuing to make more. I pumped all of the excess milk when my babies were too small to even begin to use it all and began to store up milk. For me, it was in the a.m. and p.m. after the baby ate, so I wasn’t taking his food supply. Or when I felt engorged in the beginning (note: first-time moms — I wasn’t as good the first time because there is SO much to figure out and I was SO tired). But I began to figure this out with baby number two, and became really good at it by baby number three. My goal was to leave at least 300 bags of milk by the time I went back to work (three bags of five ounces per day) and have a three-month supply. Not only is the baby then good for an additional three months, but I didn't have to stress once back at work if my supply dipped (which it did) and I always know I have lots at home.
My tips for work is that many moms are not sure how to have the conversation around pumping times and don’t want to risk judgment or missing key meetings. My take away is this: either we all begin to stand up and make changes in our workplace for people to be sensitive to this, or we do it in our damn meetings. No fairy pumper CEO is coming to change the system and make it OK, so demand that important meeting, get out around your schedule, and plan this in advance of your return to work, or take the hands-free pump and cover and pump like a boss in all your meetings. I do, and have done it in rooms of men and board meetings. Mostly because I had to, but also to set an example for how we work and get our milk, too.
Last but not least, do you make any changes to your diet while pumping?
Water! Water is key to making more milk. And don’t restrict your calories — but that doesn’t mean I ate donuts and chicken wings. For my entire maternity leave there wasn’t a diet, then when I wanted to fit back into my clothes I began to make healthier choices and get back to a better lifestyle. I take fish oil and my prenatals and a host of other vitamins when nursing/pumping as I don’t want to deplete my body and still want my baby to get some good nutrients, too. Moms, feel free to DM me on Instagram for the LONG list!
As a lady note: If this sounds overwhelming and unmanageable, just know that I had to figure this all out. It was a lot of testing and learning. This is a good start guide for you to begin a journey that is as valuable for your baby as it is for you. I highly recommend it!