Babies may be wonderful bundles of joy, but in Singapore, birth rates in 2015 was a dismal 1.4, well below the 2.1 needed to replace the population. Most couples cite heavy costs as a reason. But, are babies really a burden on the budget? What is the price of pregnancy in Singapore?
Once the pregnancy test shows a positive, you will need to schedule regular prenatal checkups with your gynaecologist. The checkups usually begin in week six to eight and are done monthly, escalating to weekly in the final trimester. Signing up for a package is the most cost-effective. Apart from checkups, the package includes scans and blood tests. But you might have to shell out more for prenatal vitamins that are not part of the package. Blood tests cost around S$100, and it includes an HIV test as well. The Down Syndrome test is optional, and the cost depends on which test you undertake, and which stage of pregnancy you are in. The cost ranges from S$150 to S$3,000.
If you’re opting for cord blood banking, the cost could go up to S$10,000. Cord blood banking stores the baby’s umbilical cord blood in a cord blood bank. This blood can be useful in the future for blood or immune system-related disorders. You can use the Child Development Account or the baby bonus to pay for this.
At public hospitals, packages can be as low as S$400. If you opt for your own doctor, the package varies. A lot. Some charge as low as S$650. Others have been known to ask for over S$1,800. The antenatal package at NUH costs S$845.30 with a consultant and S$984.40 with a senior consultant.
Price: S$400 onwards
As your baby bump grows, so must your maternity wardrobe. Borrow from friends and family and you can get by without a dent to your bank account. If this is your first child and you intend to have more, buying your own maternity clothes may be a good investment. At the very least, you get to pick your own style.
Price: S$0 to S$1,000
For first-time parents, these classes can be helpful. Most hospitals conduct them, teaching you everything from what to expect during labour to baby care, nursing techniques and nutrition tips.
Classes start from S$50 to S$250 per class. You can join as many or as few as you like.
Price: S$50 onwards
Babies require paraphernalia. Cot, beddings, stroller, car seat, steriliser, milk powder, breast pump, bottles and teats, bottle brush, diapers, clothes, wash cloth, bibs, baby detergent, baby soap, baby shampoo, baby tub, diaper cream, swaddling cloth, changing mat, changing table, toys, high chair, play pen – the list goes on and on.
There’s no putting a price tag to this because it really depends on the standard of living you want Junior to have and what hand-me-downs you can get a hold of. Just to give you an idea of how wide the variation can be – cots can cost S$89 or S$1,288; strollers can be priced under S$100 or demand a princely four-figure sum.
Price: budget about S$1,000 for starters
Delivery charges & hospital stay
The variables are many: public versus private hospital, cesarean section versus normal versus assisted birth, epidural versus au naturel, multi-bedded versus private room. Prices range from a little over S$1,900 to over S$5,500 for a normal delivery with a two-day stay in a single-bedded room. Caesarians can double costs. Pain relief costs extra, too. If baby needs help being born (via vacuum or forceps), the bill goes up. Again.
Then, there is the gynaecologist’s fee for the delivery. Some mums have paid S$1,600 while others have forked over S$3,000 for this service for natural births alone. The paediatrician who comes to check on your baby requires a fee, too. That’s another S$300 to S$400.
Singapore citizens can count on the Medisave Maternity Package (MMP) to defray pregnancy- and delivery-related costs. Check out this website to figure out how it works:
Price: S$1,900 onwards (delivery) + S$1,600 onwards (gynaecologist fee) + S$300 onwards (paediatrician fee)
Confinement nannies can be a godsend. Imagine a whole month of being pampered – meals on demand, baby taken care of and presented only for feeding, and (most precious to any new mum) uninterrupted sleep at night while someone else tends to the newborn. The going rate for such luxuries these days is S$2,000 to S$3,000.
When the nanny arrives and when she leaves, she expects an angbao (money-filled red packet). One confinement nanny agency advised S$30 for the greeting angbao and S$150 to S$250 for the farewell one.
Instead of a confinement nanny, some people go for Tingkat services, which are like lunch boxes packed with the confinement food. Opting for this will save you money both on the nanny’s services and the angbao.
In Asia, postnatal massages are the norm. Favoured because they are said to help blood circulation, aid weight loss, relief tensed muscles and promote overall recovery, you need to be prepared to pay about S$300 to S$500 for a five-day treatment. But a five-day treatment is unlikely to be enough – so the total cost could go up to S$2,000 a month.
Another thing you need to worry about is vaccination for the newborn. The initial set of vaccinations are free at government polyclinics, and will cost you S$100-S$200 if you’re getting them at private clinics.
Price: S$2,000 (confinement nanny) + S$180 onwards (confinement nanny angbao) + S$300 onwards (postnatal massage)
If you don’t have a grandparent when mummy returns to work, then childcare is another cost to add to your budget. Infant care services go from S$1,200 a month although Singapore citizens get subsidies. Maids cost about S$550 a month at the cheapest. Nannies are pricier – upwards of S$700 a month.
Price: S$550 onwards
Many insurance companies in Singapore offer pregnancy insurance, or maternity insurance. These plans usually cover delivery costs and associated complications such as a C-section and stillbirth, congenital illnesses for the baby, hospital care benefits, and neo-natal care. Optional coverage, for a higher premium amount, also includes prenatal consultations and scans.
The premium rates depend on your age, the length of coverage required, the insurance amount and optional covers chosen, and the insurance provider. Premiums can range between S$30 and S$170 per month.
So how much should you expect to fork out for the pregnancy?
With subsidies for pregnancy, delivery and infant care, your new addition will set you back by less than S$8,000. But of course, going to a public hospital may entail a longer wait for appointments. Regardless of which route you choose, compared to the immeasurable joy baby will bring, isn’t it really a small price to pay?
Before you start making these hefty but necessary expenditures, do consider how you can use different credit cards to maximise your savings and rewards with your spends. Cashback or rewards credit cards might be useful, as they offer savings or can be redeemed for vouchers to offset future purchases.