New project alert!
We are expecting! ETA September.
I don’t know how normal people react when they find out their pregnant, but for me, my thoughts were along the lines of 1.) holy shit and 2.) what do I do now??
So I did what I think most people would do. I asked a few friends. While I had no idea what the normal process at this point was, I quickly found out that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has an opinion, often a very strong one, often clashing with my strong opinion.
There was the friend that insisted I spend (or waste, in my strong opinion) money on 3 at home pregnancy test just to “make sure,” even though I already KNEW the moment the first test showed it’s little two lines that it wasn’t lying. Afterall, my period was late, I was feeling super feminine, I had a violent aversion to questionable food, and I got severely loopy from a mere 2 glasses of wine.I didn’t need multiple tests to tell me my system had been highjacked.
I did some research on the most natural friendly doctors in Singapore, and made an appointment for my chosen doctor’s earliest availability. Some friends were appauled that I wouldn’t see the doctor until week 11/12. Others insisted it wasn’t necessary to seek early care.
The opinions did not let up there. One friend insisted I go vegan, another insisted I start eating meat. A coworker lectured me on the importance of finding out the sex ASAP because it was important in case it was a girl so I would know how to wipe, nevermind that I have the equipment myself. There were those that insisted I stop riding a motorcycle immediately regardless that my office is 1.5 hours commute by public transport. Others didn’t see why I should have to give it up, afterall people in Thailand, Vietnam and India ride at 9 months pregnant and even while wearing a sling. I won’t go into the riffs, eyerolls and exasperation when I shared my birth plan of minimal intervention and no epidural. I got called everything from naive to judgmental, until I got super selective in my sharing.
Among my American friends the opinions vary greatly, but add to that the even more diverse population of Singapore, its local and expat communities, and you get an even bigger range of customs, styles and traditions to wade through. For example, in the UK it’s so normal to have a midwife attended birth that Kate Middleton did it, meanwhile in Singapore it’s illegal to birth without a doctor present. C section rates in Brazil are 80 to 90 percent in private hospitals, about 30 percent overall in the US and only about 17 percent overall in Sweden. In some countries doctors ultrasound frequently, some ultrasound hardly at all. While many in Asia insist upon the benefits of confinement practices, many of those from Western countries often perceive not leaving the house, not washing your hair, hanging out 24/7 with your in-laws and eating pig trotters as a quick way to achieve postpartum depression. Although rumor has it that the papaya fish soup is quite tasty.
So what DO you do when you find out you are pregnant as an expat in Singapore? Well, if you are asking my opinion as someone who is not a medical professional and you are not choosing to terminate, carry on reading. (If you are considering termination, it’s beyond the scope of my discussion here and you may find this post from AWARE more helpful.)
1.) Relax. Pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to be at this for approximately 40 weeks. Assuming you found out early on, you have several months to rearrange your life, your home, your mentality and schedule all the little fun to do items (like maternity/baby portraits and babymoons) and not fun activities (like discussions with your work HR).
2.) Brace yourself for the opinions of others. Learn how to smile and nod while singing rock ballads in your head, say “thank you, interesting idea” as you let their words go in one ear and out the other, or stand tall with a hearty “Thanks for your unsolicited opinion” accompanied by a 30 yard stare. Your choice. I personally like to mix it up.
3.) Evaluate your insurance situation. My insurance is not very comprehensive (meaning it’s actually utter crap) so that limits my doctor choices. Here are the costs of typical vaginal delivery by hospital in Singapore and here are the costs of typical C section delivery by hospital in Singapore. It’s probably too late to buy insurance on your own now if you don’t have it, so relax because there’s nothing you can do anyway. Most policies require minimum 10 month waiting period before covering maternity costs and/or birth. You can still get insurance going from day 1 for your little one, although it likely won’t be cheap. Try contacting Expat Insurance for quotes if you aren’t sure where else to turn.
4.) Start thinking about what type of medical care you would like or need to have in your pregnancy. In Singapore, decisions tend to be deferred to doctors and OBGYNs often explain little and err on the side of intervention. If you are OK with deferring but like to be informed, you will likely have to lead the discussions, so come in with questions. If you prefer a less medicalized experience than the norm on this small island then you are not completely out of luck. It just means you may have to research more, select providers more carefully and be prepared to be treated like an anomaly.You will still have some restrictions, for instance I already mentioned that home birth with a midwife is illegal (ie, birth by anything but a doctor). Don’t worry, I’m here for you. I’ll guide you through this in a later post.
5.) Book an appointment with a doctor that you feel best suites your needs, whether that be degree of planned intervention, location, cost or simply availability. Many expecting mothers have their first appointments at 8 weeks or so, but it’s also likely ok waiting until your 12th week as in my case. You can treat this first appointment like an interview. If you do not connect with this doctor, you still have time to change to another one. You don’t have to stay with a doctor you don’t like.
6.) Celebrate. Because you are a freaking life carrying goddess. Enough said. 🙂
Oh yeah, and congratulations! xx
What to Expect When You Are Expecting In Singapore: Belly Henna
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