A French mother’s testimony from Singapore

Singapore is a “kids-friendly” country: you’ll find all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities for kids and always in a very safe environment. Nevertheless, the fertility rate in Singapore is rather low at around 1.2 children per family. Why? Because having a baby and raise a child in Singapore is expensive, and even more for foreigners.

Consequently, the first thing to think about when you want to have a baby in the Merlion City is health insurance. Glamorous, isn’t it? Most of the time, the health insurance offered by your employer will not cover the maternity costs and private health insurance companies will require a waiting period of minimum 9 months before covering expenses relating to maternity (mine was 24 months). So you’d better anticipate! A private Insurance package covering all the maternity expenses will cost min. S$6k (€3700) a year and due to the waiting period you will have to take it for at least 2 years, so it is definitely a cost to consider in your family budget. My insurance was not covering the maternity routine expenses (gynecologist, scans, tests,…) but only the delivery and the complications.  Maternity routine expenses cost us around $4.5K (€2800) and my delivery (natural and without any complications) was around S$12k (about €7400). Actually, most of the Singaporeans will not buy health insurance but personally I found it’s too risky: what if there are some complications and the bill reaches S$200k (€124 000, true case!)? In case of complications, costs are unpredictable.

The good thing however is that you will be very well taken care of and benefit from the most advanced technology to follow-up your little baby growth. The gynecologist will see you minimum once a month and more and more frequently while the due date is approaching. Surprising fact is that it is not uncommon for Singaporeans to opt for a C-section so they can give birth on a chosen date (Chinese Singaporeans can be very superstitious) and in a way it minimises the risks of complications that can happen during a natural delivery.

You can hire a doula if you wish, but most people I know were only assisted by their gynecologist for the delivery. You can enjoy birth preparation classes arranged by your hospital or by private companies but you will have to pay for it.

In Singapore, the maternity leave is about 8 weeks leave paid by the company and if your baby is a Singaporean citizen you’ll enjoy another 8 weeks paid by the government. Only way for your baby to be a Singaporean citizen is to have at least one of the parents who is a Singaporean. So for foreigners, unless you work in a company which offers better terms for the maternity leave, you will have 8 weeks of paid leave. By law you can extend by one month of unpaid leave. Personally as an arrangement with my boss I did not take it but in return I was allowed to work from home in the morning for a couple of months. This was really helpful since I was breastfeeding.

Singapore is very supportive of breastfeeding. As a consequence, industrial baby milk is outrageously expensive (S$50-60 for a box /  €30-€40) and it is relatively common to hear from mummies that they breastfed their baby for 2 years or more. However, companies will not necessarily offer you a good environment to pump your milk at work. I breastfed for 6 months and I had to pump in the IT room of my company. I was still quite lucky as some of my friends had to enjoy their pumping sessions from the toilets…

After birth, it is common for local people to get the support of a confinement lady for one month. She will basically regent your diet (very very precise diet made of herbs, ginger, pig’s trotter, fish, mushrooms and all kind of soups…) and take care of the baby during days and nights. All you have to do is feeding your baby and rest. Looks like a dream but for most foreigners, it’s simply unbearable since usually your confinement lady will not let you go outside the house during this first month or even sometimes take a shower! Generally speaking, local people here will not go outside with their newborn before he or she turns one month old (except for the pediatrician appointments). Traveling with a baby before he or  she turns one year old is also seen to be quite adventurous, while for foreigners it is relatively common to travel back to the home country to introduce the little one to the family or simply to enjoy some holidays. My baby is now 9 month old and he has already visited 6 countries with us !
This is one good thing with Singapore…traveling is easy, even with a baby 🙂

Hélène, a French mother, who lives in Singapore

Cette tenue LAMMAS, en laine mérinos, est composée d'un cardigan et d'un pantalon (baby pants).

De quoi garder bébé bien au chaud, tout en restant élégant pour les fêtes!

Cette tenue LAMMAS fait également partie… https://www.instagram.com/p/B4uBZPWF0cH/?igshid=1pgzqmbbjt0oy

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