In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with HELLO! magazine, television presenter Nicki Shields revealed that she is pregnant with her first child. Nicki, who hosts the BBC's cover-age of Formula E racing with Vernon Kay, is expecting her and husband Mark Sainthill’s baby – a boy – in June. And she said the pregnancy has brought her closer to financial consultant Mark. "I'm lucky as he's caring and thoughtful. I return from trips exhausted and he’s good at looking after me, which is lovely."
Nicki Shields is expecting her first baby
The couple decided to find out the sex of the baby at their 20 week scan. "It turned out he really wanted a boy so he was so excited when we found out," the TV presenter told HELLO! of her husband's reaction. "His first reaction was: 'Great, we can get a go-kart.' "I'd like to think he'd have had the same reaction if it had been a girl. He is a big supporter of women in motorsport."
The TV star has found out she is going to be having a baby boy
As the face of the BBC's coverage of Formula E, the electric racing series, which she co-hosts with Vernon Kay, and of CNN's Supercharged, Nicki has interviewed everyone from Rita Ora and racing legends Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard to Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kylie Minogue on the grid, and has been blazing a trail through a traditionally male industry. As such, she would have been quite happy to have a "girl racer". She and husband Mark Sainthill discovered their happy news at the 20-week scan, when they asked the midwife to write the baby's sex on a piece of paper. They didn't look at it again until later that evening over dinner in their favourite restaurant. There was a point earlier in her pregnancy, however, when just the smell of food made her feel nauseous, and her dietary habits changed dramatically. "I was eating a lot of sour sweets and, randomly, quite a lot of burgers. I just wanted bland tastes and flavours," said Nicki, 33, who's due to give birth in June.
Once she got past 15 weeks, her morning sickness disappeared and she has been full of energy ever since. Nicki timed the pregnancy to coincide with the Formula E season (which finishes in July) and so far her workload hasn’t slowed down. Her baby bump has travelled to Saudi Arabia, Marrakech, Mexico City, Santiago, Munich and St Petersburg, following the championship that she describes as "like Formula 1 but take out the noisy polluting engine and put in an electric battery". When she’s not criss-crossing the globe, her favourite pastime is to record her baby’s activities. "I love getting into bed as he wakes up. I get my phone out and film his little kicks – you can see the movements on the bump – and send them to my family," she laughed.
Nicki has interviewed has interviewed a lot of famous people
Her hormones, meanwhile, are playing havoc with her emotions. "I've interviewed a lot of famous people with my work but I wasbowled over recently when I met Sir David Attenborough at a BBC event. I’ve never understood the phrase 'starstruck' before but I was virtually speechless. I didn't say anything intelligent, such as how much of an influence he has been on my life. I just said: 'Well done, you've done a great job.' How patronising is that?" she asked, squirming with embarrassment. "As if he cares about my opinion! Afterwards I was quite overwhelmed with emotion and burst into tears."
Nicki's approach to the birth is pragmatic; in an ideal world, she said, she'd love to use a birthing pool and have as few drugs as possible. "But if it turns out different then that’s fine, too. It's better to go in with an open mind." Mark, 37, a financial consultant whom she met eight years ago and married in Ibiza in 2014, will be by her side. "He's not getting away with not being there," she said.
Her plan is to return to work in time for season six of Formula E, which starts in December. Is she concerned about being a working mother in her industry? "It's a male-dominated environment. My TV crew consists of around 170 people, of whom only about 20 are women. But everyone is so excited and considerate. And behind the scenes there are some amazing, smart women, from engineers to team principals. It’s an intimidating industry to enter but once you get into it and establish yourself and show you can talk about cars, the technology and the drivers, you're treated like everyone else, one of the guys."
The presenter admits she is an "adrenaline junkie"
Nicki inherited her passion for cars from her dad – "a massive petrol head" – who'd take her to Brands Hatch when she was eight. "I fell in love with it," she said. "It was all about the noise and smell." After studying biological sciences at university, she wanted to work at the BBC Natural History Unit but the opportunity to present Formula E came along. She now has a race licence and was one of the first women to drive a Formula E car. Idris Elba, whom she once interviewed in Paris, has suggested they race against each other. "Now that would be fun!" It’s a cliché, she said, but she's an adrenaline junkie. "I love adventure, going travelling, being out of my comfort zone – that is why I love live TV. I love being in a fast car and the novelty never wears off. Just give me a track or an open road and a fun car to drive."
She’s the first away from traffic lights or roundabouts in her i3, an electric BMW. "I'm the fastest thing on the road in London," she said. Combining her passion for fast cars, travel and live TV, she sees no reason to move on from her ideal job. "Friends have said: 'What next?' and I’m like: 'What do you mean, what next?' I really like what I do now and don't want to change. "In a way I would have loved to have had a girl and show her this man's world is slowly changing. But I don't want to force what I do onto my kids. So who knows? He might not have any interest in cars," she shrugged. "But let's hope he doesn't like football as that's one thing I can’t watch."
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