Living in Singapore and planning on having a baby in the near future? The city’s a great place for children to grow up in, with quality medical care and low crime rates. At the same time, there are loads of things you’ll want to consider before deciding on having a baby in Singapore – everything from prenatal care and work-life balance, to maternity leave and insurance. MELISSA MORAS is a corporate account manager at UEX; she shares her experience and advice as a mum-to-be and health insurance expert.
How has your pregnancy been so far?
My husband and I have been really happy since we found out we were expecting. And my pregnancy has been pretty stable so far, knock on wood. Of course, it has taken a toll on me physically but on the whole I’ve been enjoying it – and also the attention I’m receiving!
How do you manage life, work and pregnancy?
Yeah, that’s a hard one! For sure, you need to find the right balance. When you’re pregnant, your body only allows you to work to a certain extent, so there will be restrictions for sure. It’s important to listen to your body and not exert yourself beyond your limits. I get tired easily, so I need to get enough rest. As soon as I finish my daily work routine, I ensure the rest of my evening is more relaxed. I also make sure I get enough sleep. That’s really important; you need to sleep well, ideally seven to eight hours, to be able to function the next day.
How did you plan your maternity journey?
Being part of the insurance industry, I was aware that the maternity benefit comes usually with a 12-month waiting period so I decided to purchase my maternity insurance well in advance. I subscribed for the plan around one-and-a-half years before I actually decided to have a child. I obtained quotations from insurers and selected the plan based on benefits provided, such as prenatal and postpartum coverage, coverage for medical complications and price.
My insurance plan covers me for any complications. My newborn will be covered for care for up to 90 days plus for any congenital conditions (as long as my child is added to the policy within 30 days from birth).
Tell us more about the waiting period.
Normally, there is between 10 to 12 months of waiting period where you will not be reimbursed for expenses associated with your pregnancy (follow-up consultations and delivery). However, there are some insurance plans that cover complications for the mother without the waiting period. It is the case for mine.
For your newborn, the most important thing is to have him or her covered from the first day, especially for complications (premature baby, for example). With some insurance companies, the mum has to be covered for one year before the baby can be covered for day one.
Any other advice about maternity insurance?
Choosing your maternity coverage is very important as the cost of childbirth in Singapore is high. A regular delivery with no complications in a single room in a private hospital can cost almost $10,000! And if there are any complications, the price will increase considerably. This is why understanding your maternity insurance is essential, so you know what to expect from your coverage and know to choose a policy that will cover your chosen hospital and room type.
If you have company insurance, check if there is maternity coverage as most group insurance plans do not include that. And if you really have to choose only one risk to cover, I recommend to at least get coverage for potential complications, as the financial consequences can be very high.
How did you choose your doctor and hospital?
It was a fairly easy decision as it was a recommendation. I had a friend who had recently delivered and she recommended her doctor to me. If you have specific requirements, you might want to research for a doctor who can meet those particular needs. All I wanted was an experienced doctor who I would be comfortable with. To find the right doctor, you can ask around, but you will still have to be very careful. Your gynaecologist is attached to only one hospital, and it is recommended to choose the hospital based on your doctor and health coverage.
I was in a private hospital for my first trimester. But, after three months, I was informed that the doctor mightn’t be around for my delivery date. Even though I was happy with the doctor, I decided to switch from a private to public hospital. As an expat, it was really easy moving from one to another. Choose to give birth in the hospital where your gynaecologist practises so you won’t have any additional registration to do and you can be sure that the doctor will be there for your delivery. If you choose another hospital, there is the chance that your doctor might be late or might not be there at all.
What about maternity leave?
Discuss with your employer well in advance and they will help you with this. Depending on certain criteria, as a working mother, you’ll be entitled to a minimum of 12 weeks of maternity leave. It’s generally recommended to stop working at least two weeks before your actual due date. Consult your doctor if you’re not sure.
Any advice about staying healthy during pregnancy?
The easy ones are to eat right and get enough rest! Avoid sugar, fat, soft cheeses and raw foods. There may also may be certain kinds of food you’ll have to avoid depending on your individual situation – your doctor will tell you! It’s essential to stay hydrated, even more than usual. Last but not least, be active and do all the kinds of exercises that you’re allowed to do when pregnant. I do lots of walks and some water aerobics.
Exercise during pregnancy can be beneficial for you, as it improves sleep and mood, gives you more energy, reduces stress and back pain, and also prepares you physically for giving birth. Do them after consulting your doctor. It’s also important not to stress out too much as this can have an affect on your baby. So, I try to stay as calm as possible!
How do you feel about being pregnant in Singapore?
I believe the healthcare system here is one of the best so I’m really happy to be pregnant here. Having had several tests and follow-up visits, I can say that everything is very organised and the medical staff are very careful about everything. I can’t speak for others, especially as this is my first pregnancy, but so far I think Singapore is a good place to be pregnant. I look forward to continuing this beautiful journey.
# About newborn insurance coverage
If you opt for maternity coverage with UEX, your health insurance will also cover your newborn after your first year of coverage. Note that your child must be added to your policy within 28 days after birth in order to be covered. That way, he or she will also be covered for the care after birth such as vaccines, tests and paediatrician consultations. If you have policies with UEX for more than 366 days, you won’t have to complete a health declaration for your child.
It’s important to know that there is a waiting period of about 10 to 12 months for maternity insurance policies, during which you will not be able to use its benefits. So, be sure to get it once you’ve made plans to have a baby. Check out UEX Global’s Maternity Guide for more pregnancy advice or contact their advisors.
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