A guide to pregnancy and giving birth in Singapore

25 July 2019

Having a baby is a whole new experience for first time parents, and if you’re going to do it in another country, there’s a whole host of other things to think about. So, where do you start? 

Private vs public 
First things first, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to use the public or private health system, but, what’s the difference? Really, it comes down to your budget and the level of luxury and personal care that you’re after. Whichever you choose, you should be in safe hands. 

By choosing to use the private services, you’ll be able to choose which hospital and obstetrician (OB) to use, whereas, if you use the public services, you’ll likely see a different OB each time you visit the hospital and then have another who’ll deliver your baby. Some expats favour the private system as the care is more westernised with more English speaking staff available. 

It’s also possible to receive your treatment with a mixture of public and private services. The public hospitals tend to have private facilities and private obstetricians will treat you in a public hospital, which can help to keep your maternity and delivery costs low. 

If you’re a Singaporean national, you’ll be able to benefit from the government-funded healthcare, but if you’re an expat, you’ll be reliant on self funding options or a comprehensive health plan to cover your medical bills. The costs of prenatal care and your delivery are usually billed as packages, so you don’t have to pay as you go through your pregnancy. These packages often include your prenatal consultations, tests and scans, your delivery and your stay in hospital. Don’t be surprised if the costs don’t end there, it’s common for additional costs to be added on top of the package rate, such as meals, care for your baby, additional medical interventions or extended stays in hospital.

Prenatal care 
If you use the private maternity services in Singapore, you’ll be able to have your pick of OBs and choose which one you see for the remainder of your pregnancy and when it’s time to have your baby. If you’ve got your eyes on a particular hospital, you’ll need to ask which OBs work there, as they usually only work at their preferred hospitals. 

A prenatal visit to a private doctor can cost anything from SG$60 to SG$2201, with additional costs for any tests and scans that you receive. An ultrasound scan generally costs around SG$2001

A lot of locals and expats in Singapore use Doulas throughout their pregnancy. A Doula provides non-clinical support before, during and after the birth and can help you to get the delivery experience you want. They have lots of experience with pregnancy, births and the pregnancy systems. Hospitals generally have lists of certified Doulas who are registered to work with them, so speak to your hospital if you are interested in using a Doula service. 

Your delivery 
If you already have a preferred birthing plan, you’ll need to bear this in mind when you make your decision, as public hospitals don’t offer as many options when it comes to how you’d like to deliver your baby. For example, if you’d like a home birth or water birth, these aren’t options that are available through the public system. Private hospitals are much more accommodating to your preferences. 

Public hospitals have a higher natural birth rate, whereas private hospitals tend to favour c-sections as they can be scheduled – allowing them to have a more predictable and manageable flow of patients. Singapore also has high epidural rates for natural deliveries in both public and private hospitals. If you have a preference between natural birth and c-sections, you can have this conversation with your OB ahead of your delivery date.

The costs of delivery vary depending on how your baby is born. The cost of a natural delivery in a single room costs around SG$5,0002 in a public hospital, but can cost anything upwards of SG$8,0002 in a private hospital. These costs can soon increase if your baby is delivered via c-section, with costs at around SG$8,0002 in a public hospital and SG$10,5002 or more in a private facility. Don’t be surprised if the costs don’t end here, as extra charges could be added for meals, extra nights in hospital and for any extra medical interventions needed.

Pregnancy and parenthood - cultural traditions in Singapore 
It’s worth bearing in mind some of the cultural traditions and beliefs in your new country, as some might affect what you do throughout your pregnancy and when the baby arrives.

There are a lot of cultural beliefs around the types of food that pregnant women and new mothers should eat. It’s believed that if you are pregnant, you should not eat anything that’s overly hot or cold as this can disrupt the regulation of the body’s temperature.  

Breastfeeding is still taboo in Singapore, though, that shouldn’t put you off. It’s perfectly legal to breastfeed in public, as long as you are covered up and not showing more than is necessary. There are also private areas where you can breastfeed discreetly if you’d prefer some privacy.  

When you’ve just had a baby, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by a house full of people making a fuss. Fortunately, in Singapore, it’s the 30th day after baby is born, also known as the ‘Man Yue’, when friends and family will meet them for the first time. New mums are expected to rest for the initial 30 days to allow their bodies to recoup after childbirth.  

Finding the support you need 
If you’re new to parenting and to the neighbourhood, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have your support network around. There are a number of mums’ groups that you can join where you’ll be able to connect with other new parents – as both locals and expats. You’ll be able to find out more about these groups and how to join them by asking your doctor or OB, and by doing some online research. 

Our World of Wellbeing hub contains lots of useful tips and information about being a parent abroad. Whether you’re about to have your first baby, or you’re moving your whole family to a new country, there’s plenty of advice about how to help things go smoothly. 

And if you’re ever unsure of anything, no matter where you are, we’ll always do our best to put you at ease. There’s a team of midwives on hand through our health information helpline who’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about your pregnancy. You’ll just need to call +44 (0)1892 556 753 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, until 4pm on Saturday and until 12pm on Sunday (UK time).

If you have any questions about making a claim with us or what your policy covers, you can call us anytime, day or night on +44 (0)1892 503 856. 

Sources 
1. https://blog.seedly.sg/cost-giving-birth-singapore-baby-bonuses/ 
2. https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/fee-benchmarks-and-bill-amount-information/