The Journey To Being A Father
Pregnancy is a miraculous thing. It is incredible that another little human being can grow within you, that you can create another life and soul.
It was during the Circuit Breaker period that my wife and I found out we were expecting. While it was one of the happiest news I had ever received, we were also anxious. Our minds were filled with questions related to the next steps we would need to take. As new parents, we did not know much about what to expect, or what exactly we would need to work on to prepare for the baby’s arrival.
What information do we need? How and where can we find resources for relevant information? We can expect many trips to the hospital, but what would we need to check for? How do we ensure we get a good gynae? Will the Covid-19 pandemic affect the birth of the baby in some way? I could go on about all the questions we had!
Well, our precious baby girl was born a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t be more proud to be a dad. After going through the entire pregnancy journey to birth, here are the things I can share with fellow new parents.
Private Hospital Or Government Hospital
The most urgent and important thing we had to consider first was which hospital to deliver our baby at.
Luckily for us who live in Singapore, both private and public hospitals provide reliable, safe healthcare services. The infant mortality rate in Singapore is extremely low - a testament to just how high quality the medical services and systems are here. This meant that our decision would depend on our personal preferences such as how much we are willing to pay and the level care we deemed appropriate.
As first-time parents without a ton of knowledge on what each different hospital offers, going with KK Hospital seemed to be the wisest choice as it specializes in women and children. Knowing that this largest public hospital in Singapore delivers 30-35 babies each day assured us that we were in good hands for childbirth and any delivery complications.
Another reason we chose a public hospital is because it is more affordable as compared to private hospitals.
Subsidized Vs Non-Subsidized
Another advantage of choosing a public hospital is that you can get subsidized for the hospital bills. To get subsidized, we had to obtain a referral letter from a polyclinic first.
With subsidies, we managed to save close to 40% of the cost for each consultation. Consultations alone would have easily cost $120 or more, but we were paying about $70 per consultation. This is excluding the ultrasound scans, blood and urine tests, medication, supplements and fetal assessment, which are another expense on their own.
One thing to note is that we weren’t able to choose which gynae and doctor, which may be a downside to some of you. We personally felt that it did not matter since all gynaes/doctors are more than qualified in their jobs and may also be better if we had opinions from different doctors.
Normal Delivery VS Caesaran
Delivering your baby through caesarean or normal delivery is usually your decision based on your own preferences. Childbirth is an undeniably painful process and some women might be averse to it, hence opting to go for caesarean delivery while some others wish to experience the normal childbirth process. There is really no “better” option here and a caesarean delivery is usually only recommended if your baby is in a breech position, or if you have health conditions that might cause complications during a natural birth process.
That being said, it is important to note the following about a caesarean delivery. It can cost 2 times as much as natural delivery since it is considered a surgery. As it is a major surgery, it also leaves you with more “downtime” ie. you’ll need more time to recover. Your chances of being able to go through with a natural delivery after a caesarean delivery is also significantly reduced, which means you’ll likely be undergoing more caesarean deliveries if you plan on having more children (some doctors even have the opinion that the maximum number of caesarean deliveries a woman should go through is 3, so for those looking to have more than 3 children, you’ll need to plan properly).
My wife and I decided on normal delivery and endured the whole process.
From as early as 13 weeks pregnant, we are able to get maternity insurance.
Pregnancy can have its complications. That’s why buying maternity insurance can give us a measure of security, if not comfort. Maternity insurance can cover the unexpected costs arising from pregnancy complications and baby’s congenital illnesses. It protects both the mother and the baby and offers guaranteed lifelong protection for our child up to age 100.
Most people wouldn’t consider getting maternity insurance as they don’t regard it as a necessity. This is understandable since pregnancy lasts only 9 months and deliveries often go smoothly. Most also don’t think of converting the maternity insurance into a life policy after it ends.
In 2019, the infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate is 1.7 and 3 respectively. In other words, 1.7 out of 1000 babies and 3 out of 1000 mothers passed on while giving birth. While the mortality rates are indeed extremely low, this does not mean that pregnancy complications and congenital illnesses do not exist.
If we have the spare budget for it after factoring in all other expenses, buying a protection like this can be pivotal if anything happens. We’ll never know what’s going to happen in the future. It’s always better to be covered so we wouldn’t regret any high medical costs in the event anything happens. And furthermore, we can give our baby a head start in life.
At the current moment, we have the highest number of covered conditions for both mum and baby.
Do speak to us if you would like to find out more.
Maternity Clothes And Baby Stuff
Pregnancy brings along many changes, both internal and external. While a new life is growing within you, your body is changing externally too. My wife found herself having to shop for new maternity clothes that would accommodate her baby bump.
Her body shape was changing and she was gaining weight as the baby grew. She could no longer fit into the pretty clothes she used to wear. There were times she felt unattractive because of these changes in her physical appearance. This is where husbands need to be especially supportive and reassuring towards their pregnant wives.
It is important to let your wife know that she is beautiful and help her embrace her baby bump. It might be a good idea to take her shopping because with the right maternity outfit, it can really flatter your wife’s pregnant figure and make her look beautiful!
You can also start shopping for your newborn and get those cute clothing, toys and other baby essentials. Another option is also to accept hand downs from friends and relatives to save some money. However, my wife and I decided to splurge on our little princess and buy everything brand new since she was our first child.
Maternity And Newborn Photoshoot
Having a baby is a blessing and we wanted to document every moment of the pregnancy and the baby growing up. Babies don’t stay babies forever, they grow up faster than we think. When they eventually grow into young adults, you’ll want to have a whole album of their baby pictures to look at and reminisce over.
And what’s better than to have a professional maternity and newborn photoshoot. To capture the photos, and to remember the moments.
The best time to photograph expectant mummies is between 33-36 weeks. So we went down to the studio for our maternity photoshoot at 33 weeks.
For those of you who want to get a complimentary family or baby photoshoot, don’t forget to sign up for the 12 Days Of Christmas Giveaway, where there is the exclusive gift pack which contains the complimentary photoshoot voucher amidst other items. Hurry up, only limited to the 1st 1,000 sign up.
Baby Bonuses, Medisave Maternity Package and More
For those of you trying to catch a breath after reading about all the expenses adding up, relax! There are schemes and grants to alleviate the financial expenses along your journey of parenthood.
The Baby Bonus scheme is exactly as the name describes it. The government will give you cash bonuses as a reward upon the delivery of your baby. You’ll get $8,000 for the first and second child, and $10,000 for your third and fourth child. Each bonus will be released in 5 payouts.
Sign up for the Baby Bonus here.
We also set up the Child Development Account (CDA) for our child. When we open a CDA, we’ll find $3,000 deposited inside. On top of that, the government will match whatever amount we deposit in there up to $3,000 for our first and second child, $9,000 for our third and fourth child, and $15,000 for our fifth child and beyond.
We can then use the funds in the CDA to offset future expenses like childcare, medical check-ups, insurance and even optical purchases.
As Singaporean citizens, there is also the Medisave Maternity Package, where we’ll be able to use a portion of our Medisave to offset the costs of every stage of pregnancy. That’s up to $900 off pre-delivery expenses, $450/day for your hospital stay, and $750 or $2,150 for a normal vaginal delivery or caesarean respectively.
We all know how the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected the economy. There will thus be a one-off $3,000 Baby Support Grant for all babies born from 1 Oct 2020 to 31 Sep 2022 to help defray the cost of raising a child amid the pandemic.
On 5th Nov 2020, we had our final consultation. The doctor told us that the baby is about 3.6 kg and we needed to induce labor, or we might have to risk complications or giving up the option of a natural birth if the baby gets too big.
So we quickly packed our bags, grabbed some bites, and did the paperwork for admission.
We ended up choosing the A ward for the comfort and privacy it provides, and it allowed me to be at my wife and the baby’s side at all times. Even though this meant that we would not enjoy subsidized rates, I wanted to give my wife and baby the best.
We were first placed at a special ward, where they inserted a prostine pill to increase contractions. After an hour or so, we were sent back to our ward. Thereafter the contractions got more and more intense, and my wife could not tolerate the pain. So we were wheeled to the delivery suite. My wife was given an epidural to numb and reduce the pain. The doctors were coming in every now and then to check the dilation of the cervix. Fast forward many hours later at 6th Nov 2020, 610 pm, with many pushing and vacuum assisted, Baby Ruby was born at 3.416 kg.
It felt so surreal.
It's the beginning of fatherhood, and the start of many sleepless nights.
It's not easy. But at the end of the day, seeing my precious Baby Ruby enter the world is all worth it.