If you think you have become pregnant in Singapore, the first step on your to-do list is to confirm that your suspicions are correct. Though this may sound slightly ridiculous, it’s important that you are not mistaking other health issues for pregnancy symptoms. Once you have confirmed the news, your emotions, from elation to mild shock, will take a bit to settle. Then it’s time to get organized and take care of your pregnancy.
First, contact your insurance provider to check if they cover the costs of carrying a pregnancy to term. In many cases, you may need to have held the insurance for a certain amount of time before they pay for maternity care. If this applies to you, you need some financial resources on the side. Starting at around 4,000 SGD for a two-night stay and a normal delivery at a public hospital, giving birth in Singapore is not necessarily cheap, but is still affordable. However, unforeseen complications can lead to heavy setbacks without insurance cover.
When you have ascertained that your medical insurance includes coverage of delivering a baby in Singapore, you can go looking for an ob/gyn. A pregnancy in Singapore is usually accompanied by an obstetrician. While there are midwives present during labor, pre-natal midwifery is less common. Many ob/gyns offer so-called “maternity packages” that include consultations and sometimes also extras such as supplements. The costs for such a maternity package range from around 500 SGD at a public hospital to twice as much in a private facility.
Routine care for you and your baby generally includes the following checkups: testing your blood and urine, monitoring your blood pressure and weight gain, as well as your baby’s heartbeat, position, and approximate size. Additional examinations — e.g. one ultrasound per trimester, the fetal health screening in weeks 9–12, or amniotic puncture — may have to be paid for as extras.
When you choose a doctor to be in charge of pre-natal exams and to deliver your baby in Singapore, there are some things to watch out for: if you are a private patient and your ob/gyn orders lots of examinations during a normal pregnancy in Singapore, they might not be the right person. Therefore, ask other mothers for personal recommendations.
When you “shop around” for doctors, also make sure that they favor the kind of delivery you are most comfortable with. Some pregnant women want plenty of medical interventions, pain relief, or scheduled caesareans. Others prefer a natural birth for their baby. If you are among the latter, you should make enquiries with Thomson Medical Centre or the National University Hospital (NUH), in particular. Generally speaking, it also helps to visit several maternity wards your doctor is affiliated with, e.g. at KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital in the public sector, or at private clinics like Mount Elizabeth or Gleneagles Hospital.
During the later stage of your pregnancy in Singapore, you will join antenatal classes. Offered by various hospitals and clinics, these sessions are spread out over six to eight weeks. They teach you about coping with labor pain, post-natal exercises, and caring for a newborn. The classes may cost between 150 and 300 SGD depending on whether you choose a public or private hospital. Hopefully, they will prepare you practically and emotionally for giving birth in Singapore.
When you have chosen a hospital and the due date is there, don’t forget to prepare your maternity kit. You should have the following things at hand before welcoming your new baby in Singapore: your birth plan for the delivery, comfy clothes (including disposable underwear), toiletries (especially sanitary napkins and nipple cream), some light snacks, as well as baby-care items (diapers, wet wipes, clothing for newborns).
The delivery and two night’s stay will cost you around 8,000 SGD at a private hospital like Gleneagles. Also ask beforehand if heavy pain relief like epidurals is included in the price — you never know if you will need it. If you have the money to spare, having a baby in Singapore can be a pampered indulgence. Some private facilities offer “VIP maternity care” with massages or candlelight dinners at a hefty price. But alas, you’ll still have to deal with labor…
Well-to-do women with a new-born baby often hire a “confinement nanny” for the first four weeks in their kid’s life. This can be a great help with the transition period, especially for expat mothers who may be far from their usual support network of friends and family. However, it’s a rather costly affair. Such a special nanny requires another 2,000 to 3,000 SGD per month.
According to the Singapore Employment Act, foreign employees (though not managers and executives) have a legal right to 12 weeks of maternity leave. Eight of these are paid by the employer as long as you meet certain conditions stipulated by the act. Usually, women take off the last month of their pregnancy in Singapore and two months after the birth. Fathers are entitled to one week of paid paternity leave as well as an extra voluntary week at the discretion of their employer. As of January 2017, fathers of citizen children will be entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. You should check if your company has a different maternity policy with additional options for employees and/or executives.
Working mothers should also read up on childcare options in Singapore.
Last but not least, you should not forget to register the birth of your child. If you have your baby at any hospital, the staff can help you with this. Otherwise, a parent or official proxy must go to the Registry of Births & Deaths at the Citizen Services Centre within 14 days of the birth. Bring your Singaporean identity cards (NRIC), the notification of live birth from either the hospital or the medical staff who delivered the baby outside the hospital, your marriage certificate (if applicable), your passports, entry permits, and D/ED cards from immigration clearance. If a proxy is registering the birth, they will need to bring a letter of authorization from the parents. Moreover, you may want or have to register the birth with your embassy as well.
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