In our How She Does It column, we speak to inspirational mothers and mums-to-be about work-life balance, their favourite travel destinations, travelling with children, and how they really do it all.
As the 2023 Formula 1 season comes to an end we catch up with Rosanna Tennant, TV and radio broadcast journalist, and BBC 5 Live’s F1 Pit Lane Reporter and Presenter.
After finding out she was pregnant earlier this year, Rosanna still had 17 global F1 races to cover, which she’s done with seemingly effortless ease. Here she talks to us about the reality of doing it all and explains the changes she’s made to the way she travels while pregnant, as well as shares her thoughts and advice for working while pregnant.
Tell us about yourself and your work?
I’m a TV and radio presenter working predominantly in Formula 1. Working in and around F1 means that I travel to the majority of the races around the world, covering the sport and telling the story of the season. I spend a lot of time interviewing the drivers in the F1 paddock and I report on each F1 session from a very busy and hot pit lane.
What inspires you in your career?I’m inspired by the incredible people that I encounter in the F1 world – that’s not necessarily just the drivers, who of course are elite athletes, it’s also the supremely intelligent engineers and mechanics behind the scenes. Everyone in the sport from hospitality, marketing and media, to engineering and driving is operating at the highest level which is something incredible to witness and that pushes me to strive to be better at what I do.
Your pregnancy fell during the 2023 F1 Season, what did this mean for you personally and professionally?
When I found out I was pregnant there were still 17 races to go. There was no question of me stopping work but of course the baby’s and my health would need to be considered as I got bigger. My last race this year was in Las Vegas – what a way to sign off!
And what about while presenting from the races? Was it business as usual or did you make any amendments to how you usually work?
I’ve become so aware of how intense working in the F1 world is. We travel to incredibly hot countries – I started the 2023 F1 season presenting from Bahrain, and have been to Singapore and Japan where it was over 30 degrees celsius every day – and the humidity was at around 75 per cent. Then you have to factor in working in a hot and pretty dirty pit lane wearing a heavy radio frequency backpack. I try to remind myself to take things slowly and not to run to get interviews. I also have a bottle of water with me at all times, and have a little camping stool to sit on while I wait to interview drivers. I had never appreciated how long I was on my feet for on race weekends.
Were you excited or worried about any of the destinations this season?
When I was in Qatar the temperature was around 40 degrees. I was 25 weeks pregnant while there, so I needed to go steady – and seek out air conditioning at every opportunity. I was also a little worried about Zika virus when I went to Singapore but I spoke with a health professional who reassured me. I covered the Mexican and Brazilian Grand Prix races remotely, so that removed the risk of picking up the virus there. If you could give others one piece of advice about working while pregnant, what would it be? Once you’re happy to share the news with colleagues that you’re having a baby, don’t shy away from asking for help. I’ve been used to being independent for so long and always saw asking for assistance with anything – holding my equipment or lifting a heavy bag, for example – as a weakness. My job was to get things done as quickly as possible and I couldn’t rely on anyone’s help as I travel on my own so much. Now I try to remind myself that it’s also my job to protect my baby. Everybody has been so kind and they are always keen to help me.
If you had the power to change one thing for pregnant women at work or working mothers, what would you change?
I wish there was more security for pregnant women and working mothers, especially those that are self-employed. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take off as much time as you needed or wanted, safe in the knowledge that your exact job would be there when you came back.Will you be taking a babymoon?
Yes, my husband Grant and I recently stayed at The Harper in North Norfolk for a couple of nights. Given I travel so much for work we thought it would be nice to go somewhere close to home so we could maximise our time together rather than spend it queuing to go through airport security. Do you think having a child will change how you travel? I’m having so many thoughts about next year; how to travel with work and be there for my baby and husband. It may be the case that my husband comes to some of the races with the baby so we can spend as much time together as possible. I’m sure working away will be much harder knowing I’m leaving them behind. Is there anywhere that you already know you’d like to take your child? Australia. I lived there for a year after school and I’m just obsessed with the country – something about it being on the other side of the world. I’d love to take our child there one day, to introduce them to our lovely friends out there as well as to show them the country that has had such a huge impact on my life. How do you think travel benefits children? I think it’s wonderful if children can experience different cultures, food, languages and landscapes from an early age. It’s so important they learn about our amazing world and the people that inhabit it. There’s so much to see, so start them young!
Favourite hotel in the world?
Ellerman House, Cape Town.
Travel essentials while pregnant?Carmex Vanilla lip balm and My Expert Midwife Fantastic Skin Elastic Serum. What advice would you give to other pregnant women in the workforce? Go steady and ask for help, even if you think you don’t need it. How do you do it all? That’s a very good question! With a very supportive husband and family.A water bottle, compression socks,
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