Having a baby in Singapore 101

Congratulations! You are having a baby for the first time! It might be daunting for youespecially with tons and tons of information online. Here’s a simplified step-by-step guide for you that might help you with your pregnancy journey.

  1. Choose a doctor

After that pee test, look for a doctor who is able to confirm that you are indeed expecting. It’s always reassuring to ‘double-confirm’ this happy news. First steps though, are you going the public or private route? For me who’s undecided at first, I spent almost 1.5 hours waiting for the polyclinic doctor to take the pee test again just to choose the private route for my second baby as well (like my first). Ironically, for my first gynae who did not allow appointments, I also spent the same amount of time waiting to see her though I spent an exorbitant amount of money because she didn’t have “packages” available too. For my second gynae, he was really efficient so the wait was really short. I highly recommend Dr. Benjamin Tham from Thomson Medical, and I have at least 5 other friends who went to see him!

  • 2. Plan a timeline

Are you superstitious and will not announce your pregnancy till after the 3-month period? Does your workplace need to find a maternity replacement for you? What are the items that you need to buy? What is your budget? What’s your birth plan? Do you need a confinement nanny or will confinement food delivery do?

Sit down with your partner to talk about a good timeline for you. Book your hospital maternity tours(to take a look at the environments and delivery suites), though this will largely depend on which doctor you are choosing because they do not deliver at all hospitals! Apart from the hospital tours, you can also look at antenatal classes. For my first child, I delivered at Mount Alvernia Hospital. For the second, I was at Thomson Medical. Both were really great, nurses were attentive and caring, to be honest I thought the environment at Mount A was a little better because it felt bigger.

  • 3. Baby stuff checklist

While I bought mostly new stuff for both of my kids, you can save a lot if you get clothes (which babies outgrow quickly anyway) or even big ticket items like cots and baby car seats from family and friends. Here’s a good checklist to have.

For me I created so many lists, which was only helpful to an extent. Since everything is easily available, buy what you need. I also did some research online on brands that are best for babies e.g. California Baby Shower Gel, Similac Formula Milk, Pampers etc.

In my head I visualised how I would take care of my baby and what I needed. For example, baby in baby cot cries, is it accessible for me to change his or her diapers? Where should I place the bottles and milk? If I need to breastfeed the baby should I save the milk in the freezer and is it easy for me to warm it up at night? Do remember though, you will need to plan for yourself too. Both my babies were delivered through c-sect, so it was difficult to bend. Make sure you have a short stool for you to sit while bathing the baby in a bath tub. Or a high enough bed.

Summary:

  • Find a doctor, go for regular check -ups, confirm the hospital that you’re delivering at, look at your budgeting (remember, you get baby bonus too so it’s not too bad!)
  • Start on antenatal classes and yoga classes to keep fit.
  • Notify your bosses and colleagues early if necessary.
  • Start getting baby stuff, and make sure you visualise the process of how and what should be done.
  • Confirm your confinement nanny or help/delivery food services that you’re going to get.
  • Be clear of government initiatives : Baby Bonus, Maternity leave entitlements, how to register your child at infant care
  • Confirm your birth plan, and pack your hospital bag (actually it was nothing much for me apart from the breast pump and clothes).
  • Decide if you will like to take maternity leave early.
  • Have a baby shower, before the baby, if you’re westernised!
  • Make sure you have support at home once the baby is out!

Jumpstart your Job search

It’s a terrible time to be out of job – The threats of COVID-19 and the whole lockdown situation has made it worse. Many people have sent across job portals and compilations of virtual job fairs to me, and it seems like many of these positions are on contract or temporary basis. Finding a job is a complex mission. Not dissing non-permanent jobs, because all of us have things that we’re good at or trained for, and it’s important we have a source of income right now. For starters, I hope I can do a small part by sharing some tips to get the job you want.

  1. Have a good resume

First impressions definitely count. Having a good resume is number one on everyone’s list – but what is a good resume? Although I am not part of HR or a recruiter, having worked for almost 10 years now and in the communications function, it is important for a resume to be clear, and concise. A resume should not be longer than two pages, unless you are applying to become a professor and has to list down all the papers that you have published. Apart from a personal summary, highlight key achievements of each position. Customise your resume according to the job ad, listing down keywords that are applicable to the job that you are applying to. E.g. If the job ad requires supervisory experience, make sure that your leadership skills are reflected in your resume, with examples of what you have done.

Moving away from content, if you are applying for a job in the creative industry, check out tools like Canva that can help beautify your resume. If you need more information on writing a good resume, there are other resources that give a deep dive into what makes one.

  • 2. Use online platforms

Moving on to number 2, using online platforms. This may seem really simple – just log on to the websites and apply for jobs. But what are the platforms that you should look out for? Personally, I recommend these two job portals for private-sector jobs: Jobstreet and MyCareerFutures. For Jobstreet, the platform is easy to use, and you can apply for jobs with just a click. You may argue that you get quite a bit of competition doing that since the process is so simple. Next, for MyCareerFutures, it is government-backed, so the jobs are legitimate. I have used both, and have recommended these platforms to my friends who have gotten jobs through this. Even if you do not find jobs that are to your liking, it is also a good way to meet recruiters who often post job ads on these platforms.

  • 3. Speak to recruiters

That brings me to my third point which is to speak to recruiters directly. Recruiters are powerful people especially during your job hunt. What they can do is firstly, give you first-hand information on how a hiring manager is, or if the turnover rate is high. Speaking to recruiters also give you access to a handful of jobs that are already relevant to your profile. What I recommend is to build up a Linkedin profile to connect to recruiters in your industry. It helps if your connections endorse your profile as well, so you seem more credible!

All the best in your job search!

Where to get cheap books for your kids in Singapore

To be honest, if you will like to save money, the National Library Board Singapore is definitely a great place to start getting books for your kids. I encourage borrowing definitely, as it saves resources (environmentally-friendly), money and the For me, I always wonder who have actually used the books, so although many of the books are in great condition, it’s not for me (or at least my children who are really young!).

Here are 3 channels where I get books for my children –

  1. Book Depository (www.bookdepository.com)

What’s great about this platform is that it has a lot of westernised book titles e.g. Peppa pig, Collins writing books and for kids, it’s sorted according to age group. This makes it easy for people to choose books for their children as well as gifts. Prices for the books are also relatively lower than retail, but I would say it is not that significant compared to other places that I’m going to introduce you to. Delivery takes a few weeks and sometimes books get sent individually, since a lot of the books are shipped from different locations such as Australia or UK. But, hey, delivery is free and you’ll get a free book depository bookmark!

Tip: Sign up for the mailers, they do have promotional codes that are 10% off!

This neighbourhood bookstore looks kind of dated but it actually has several outlets around Singapore. I used to go to the one at 112 Shopping Mall before it closed, and now the Sun Plaza outlet. The store usually has many random stationery items but you will be surprised that they do have lots of children books that are really reasonably priced! For example, they do have 3 for $10 fairytale books, writing assessment books (for kindergarten) and even activity books! They do have a few westernised book titles too at a seemingly cheaper price. There are also some Chinese titles!

Tip: Do a comparison with Taobao if you are buying the Chinese titles because it might be cheaper if you purchase them online.

My latest discovery is this online platform located in Malaysia – which means it takes less time for the books to arrive. Shipping is a flat RM50 but recently I shared this with my neighbours and they organised a Group Buy to save on the shipping. There are also promo codes available after repeat purchase! If you’re wondering about the quality, I have ordered through this platform twice. Delivery took less than two weeks, it came in a box and the books were individually wrapped. Sound books were functional, all books seemed to be new. I bought a few stationery items which was a little dusty, but otherwise, all good!

Tip: Check out their bargains section, you will definitely ‘add cart’ for everything!

Hope this helps all parents or people who are buying books for kids in Singapore!