Planning for the birth of a child in Singapore is complicated enough, but what about when you’re expecting twins? David Marshall shares his experience.
In the spirit of the ‘Made in Singapore’ issue of ANZA Magazine during the nation’s 50th anniversary year, my wife and I are doing our bit and are expecting twins early in the New Year.
Having recently been married, we’re very excited by this surprise news, and count ourselves very fortunate to be expecting not one but two additions to the family. As we count down to the delivery, it’s no surprise the maternity services in Singapore are world-class and, as every conversation on the topic will confirm, are priced accordingly. So as we embark on this path towards parenthood, I hope some of the financial lessons we’ve learned along the way will be helpful to others.
When we visited the doctor for the first of our regular check-ups, we were prepared both mentally and financially for the thought of one newborn. I’m not sure if it was our doctor’s usual sense of humour, but during the scan when he casually asked if either of us had a history of twins in the family, our jaws hit the deck. Needless to say, it was a shock and took some time to fully comprehend.
Following the first scans, the cheeky receptionist put a smile on our faces with her ‘buy one get one free’ remark as we paid the consultant fees. It was time to reassess our situation financially, which as an initial adjustment meant putting away more money each month than we had originally planned.
Over the course of our pregnancy, the cost of check-ups have of course added up. Then there is the actual delivery and postnatal charges – in Singapore, maternity hospitals double as hotels, complete with private rooms and room service. We do hear it’s all worth it in the end however – sleepless nights included.
Our circumstances mean that we’re bracing to pay for the birth ourselves (no pun intended), though obviously having this covered via insurance would be preferable. A key piece of advice is to check out your work benefits, see what kind of coverage is included or check if existing policies can be upgraded to include maternity. Even if waiting periods apply, financially it may be worth the wait.
Along the way, we’ve also learned local maternity hospitals have their own versions of ‘happy hours’, where parents who had a [Year of the] ‘Dragon baby’ are now eligible for a discount if they deliver their ‘Horse babies’ at the same location.
Insuring the newborns is also key, as in the event of any complications where intensive care is required the hospital expenses would create a major financial burden. We arranged a policy with Expat Insurance, who were very helpful in providing peace of mind, and sleep at night while we can get it!
When the newborns arrive, we’re at least prepared on the home front, having already moved into a larger apartment to accommodate the many family members who have eagerly made plans to visit, and who have also made generous offers of gifts which will prove very useful.
If you’re happy with not-quite-new, the local classified market is very active for items that will only be used for a short time. Then there are the inevitable weekend trips to IKEA for other necessities, including the high-chair, which should come with a word of warning: once seen, it cannot be unseen (and once you’ve seen one, you’ll start spotting them everywhere).
Life is full of surprises, and we can’t wait to welcome our newborns into the world. The unexpected news of twins has thrown a few surprises our way both mentally and financially, but having had time to talk and plan for the changes involved, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be.
David Marshall is an Australian expat with experience in the banking industry, who has called Singapore home for the last four years.