When Yashmita Bhana gives birth to her third child later this year, she will be able to thank the baby for saving her from getting altitude sickness when she scaled Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Bhana, a businesswoman from Alberton on Gauteng’s East Rand, summited Africa’s highest point in December while she was eight weeks pregnant.
The 41-year-old mother of two sons, aged four and eight, said it had been her desire to climb the mountain for the last few years.
After gruelling training for several weeks, Bhana discovered three days before leaving on her journey that she was pregnant.
“I just burst into tears when I found out. It was the last thing I expected. I wondered how I could go while being pregnant. And in the first trimester anything can go wrong.
“But I spoke to my husband and he said: ‘do what you feel is right for you’. I thought to myself if I don’t do it now, I would have to wait for four years so my child can be left alone without me. So I thought why not give it a shot.”
Bhana didn’t tell anyone in her family that she was pregnant before leaving – she only shared the news when she came back.
“I was in trouble. My sister thought it was the best thing in the whole world. But my mom was a bit stunned. I learnt that you are never too old to get a scolding from your mother,” she laughed.
Bhana climbed in aid of two charities: St Mary’s Children’s Home for Aids orphans and abandoned children, and an alumni organisation of Glenhaven Secondary School in Verulam called Friends for Life Foundation, which raises money for matriculants to go to university.
She described her trip as rigorous, adding that the route she did was the “toughest” and even resulted in two porters falling off a slope.
Bhana, who climbed between 12km and 45km a day, said she would often just “chant mantras” and meditate.
She hardly had any morning sickness – that only hit when she got back to South Africa.
“While climbing, I never second-guessed myself or thought [I had made] the wrong decision. I just meditated for the six-and-a-half days we were climbing. It’s just you and your thoughts. I spent time thinking about my life and how the year had gone.”
Bhana said she could not wait to tell her child that “anything is possible”.
“I’m going to tell my baby that he or she saved me from getting altitude sickness.
“When I got back and went to my doctor, I told them it was so strange that I never got altitude sickness. My doctor told me it was because you produce progesterone when you are pregnant, and this increases the oxygen levels in your body. I thought maybe it was God’s plan for me to become pregnant before I climbed.”
Bhana is due to give birth in July.
Source: Times Live