Friday, February 5, 2010

Being Pregnant in Singapore

I already posted a series about healthcare (Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV). The series isn't a scientific and comprehensive look at the medical care available here, but it is true to MY experience, which has been great.

Since I've continued to get questions regarding being pregnant, giving birth, and caring for an infant, I thought I'd do another series of posts to answer some of these FAQ's. If you're new to Singapore, planning to move here soon, or just plain curious about what life is like here, I hope you find this helpful!

Q: What is the bathroom situation like in Singapore (since we pregnant women are CONSTANTLY needing to use the restroom)?

A: Overall, great! There are tons of public restrooms available, and for the most part, they are very clean and accessible. That's not to say you won't find some nasty ones, but I would say 8 out of 10 are "good," and 5 out of 10 are "great." There are malls everywhere, and the restroom facilities in the malls are generally excellent. The one thing you will find is that not all restaurants have public restrooms. And, unless it's a nice quality restaurant or chain (like McDonalds, Coffee Bean, etc), the facilities can be a bit questionable. Chances are, if you're in need of a public toilet (as they call them here), you'll be able to find a clean one nearby.

Q: Will I be able to find maternity clothes?

A: The answer to that question is tricky. Yes and No. You can find maternity clothes, but they are (in my opinion) either unstylish or outrageously priced. I opted to bring most of my maternity clothes from the US and I am glad I did. If money is no obstacle, then you can definitely find very attractive maternity clothes here. However, if $100 for a maternity shirt sounds a bit pricey, you may want to consider bringing clothes with you (or having a good friend ship them to you).

Q: Can I get quality prenatal vitamins in Singapore, or should I bring them with me from my home country?

A: When I moved here with an nursing infant (and was still taking prenatal vitamins), I brought a supply of my favorite prenatal vitamins. I ran out just about the time I found out I was pregnant with our second child. We found out she was coming while we in the US, but I opted not to bring back vitamins. Instead, my doctor here gave me prescription vitamins. For me, that was a good option because our medical insurance covers all prescriptions, including vitamins. If you don't have a medical plan that covers vitamins, you can find OTC vitamins here that are excellent. I asked my doctor about some recommended OTC brands and she suggested either Blackmore's (available at almost any Watson's or Guardian--two of the largest drugstore chains here) or GNC (they have numerous outlets here).

Q: What if I am a high risk pregnancy?

A: Not being a high risk pregnancy, I wasn't sure about the answer to this question, so I talked with my OB at my last appointment and asked her what options are available for women in this situation. This was her answer:

Most private doctors and hospitals will handle high risks pregnancies. If, for instance, you are diabetic, you would see your OBGYN as well as an endocrinologist at whatever hospital you choose. They would work together to manage your care and, assuming you were relatively healthy, you could deliver at the private hospital. Private hospitals are equipped to handle emergency C-sections and newborns/pre-term babies requiring extra care.

For extreme or unmanageable cases, the private doctor my refer you to a OB specialist at another hospital, perhaps private or public. In cases where the complication will result in a premature delivery, you would definitely be sent to one here with Level 3 NICUs (there are several). The most well-equipped hospital for handling extreme cases is KK Women's and Children's Hospital. It is a publicly funded hospital (though as an expat, you would not receive the subsidized pricing scheme). You may not get the doctor of your choice or the luxurious surroundings of some of the private hospitals, but you could expect to receive excellent care.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave a comment. I'd be happy to try to answer whatever questions arise. I am in the process of researching some answers to questions I've received regarding caring for your baby once it arrives. Stay tuned!


Crystal said...

Thanks so much for posting this!

not2brightGRAM said...

Are the patient confidentiality/privacy laws more lax than the U.S.? I am thinking of what happened when your second baby was born and I called the hospital. As you may remember, the OB nurse gave me tons of unsolicited information, including where you live, without having any way to verify who I was. I am wondering if that was the exception to the rule, or whether Singapore is similar to the U.S. as it was thirty to fifty years ago when that could have happened.

Rebecca said...

Regarding patient privacy laws--I am quite sure that was an anomaly. I recently visited the newborn nursery area with the kids to show them where the new baby would be and let them peek at the newborns. The shades were closed, as they usually are. I asked the nurse at the reception desk if she could open them for us so the kids could see the babies since we were going to be delivering there in just a couple weeks. She apologized profusely but said that due to privacy preferences she could not open them unless I had permission from one of the parents. I think, in some ways, things are a little more lax here, but I'm pretty sure the information you received was NOT supposed to be given.

Pam said...

Great post! thanks!