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The cost of having a newborn baby in Singapore - delivery charges, doctor's fees and everything else

The cost of having a newborn baby in Singapore - delivery charges, doctor's fees and everything else
PHOTO: Pexels

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re either (a) expecting your first child (because if this is Baby Number two or three, you would not have the time to read) or (b) planning to have your first baby very soon.

Either way, you might be wondering how much money to set aside to have your first baby. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll going to break down ALL the costs of pregnancy and childbirth.

Here’s a snippet of what it’s like to get married at 22, and have your first child at 24. Check out what Ben and Serena went through:

1. Pre-pregnancy screenings

There’s no harm in being too careful, not when it comes to babies. Going for a once-over with your gynaecologist before you get pregnant is a good idea, especially if you haven’t been regular with your check-ups. Consider it a tune-up before the big race.

The doctor will look at your health record and medical history for:

  • General physical assessment
  • Vaccinations – to check your immunity to rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis A and B
  • Major illnesses or health problems
  • Gynaecological problems
  • Diabetes or thyroid issues
  • Potential for inherited genetic diseases
  • Use of substances – tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs
  • Medication taken in the past few months

Then, there are the possible tests:

  • Pelvic exam – to check for infection or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Pap smear – to determine the health of your endocervical canal
  • Blood test and Rh test – to see if you have the Rh (Rhesus) factor because, without it, There’s a strong possibility that your blood will be incompatible with your baby’s and precautions have to taken during your pregnancy
  • Urine test – to check for infections
  • Ultrasound

There are two ways you can go about this. In most cases, you visit the gynaecologist who will then decide what tests you need. Every test you order is then added to the bill.

Item Price range
Consultation $50 to $200
Ultrasound $80 to $150
Pap smear $40 to $80
Blood test $75 to $180

Alternatively, there are packages that some clinics and hospitals offer which cover a set of tests. Mount Elizabeth, for example, offers preconception health screening.

Item Price range
Pre-pregnancy screening package $349 to $700

2. Prenatal check-ups for first trimester

Once you’ve tested positive on a home-pregnancy kit, you will want a professional to confirm it. This can happen as early as Week 4 of your pregnancy if you’ve been watching your body carefully (pregnancy is calculated from the first day of your last period).

Then comes the biggie: which gynaecologist to go with? You can pick based on the hospital you want to deliver at because different doctors are attached to different places. Or you can pick based on the doctor you want.

If cost is your concern, a government hospital is the way to go. Apart from generally being cheaper, government hospitals have an added cost-saving measure. They have subsidised rates for both your consultations and your hospital stay.

The downside is that you when you opt for these subsidised rates (as opposed to private rates at government hospitals), you get a different gynaecologist with every visit. Plus, you need to be referred to the hospital by your GP or polyclinic. You can’t just walk in and declare you want to be a subsidised patient.

Here’s how much you can expect to pay for your first consultation at government hospitals:

Hospital Price range (private) Price (subsidised)
KKH $114.49 to $143.38 $29.40
SGH $114.49 to $146.59 $39
NUH $109.14 to $145.52 $38

At your first visit, your gynaecologist will estimate your due date – 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. If this is not the same doctor who did your preconception screening, he may check your medical history and that of your families’ (both yours and your husband’s) to flag any possible hereditary illnesses.

Then comes the tests:

  • Blood test – to determine the amount of pregnancy hormone (Human Choroid Gonadotrophin) you have. This will tell him more accurately how far along you are in your pregnancy
  • Blood test – for a full blood count; and to check for infections, thyroid disease, Rh antibodies and exposure to viral diseases especially rubella (which, when contracted during pregnancy, can result in miscarriage, stillbirth and birth defects)
  • Pelvic exam and Pap smear
  • Vaginal ultrasound – to detect the intrauterine gestational sac with a yolk sac and your baby

Within the first 12 weeks, you will probably see your gynaecologist once or twice. Assuming you did NOT opt for subsidised rates at a government hospital, here’s how much you can expect to pay per visit.

Item Price range (private)
Consultation & tests $120 to $350
Prenatal supplements $100 to $450

You can offset the costs with Medisave. Under the Medisave Maternity Package (MMP), you can withdraw up to $900 for pre-delivery medical expenses.

3. Prenatal check-ups for second trimester onwards

From Week 13, you can sign up for a package with your gynaecologist. This would include monthly check-ups escalating to weekly ones in your final trimester.

Government hospital packages can start as low as $400 for subsidised patients or $650 if you opt for the same doctor for each visit. Private packages go as high as $2,000.

Pregnancy screening package Estimated price
Government hospital (subsidised) $600
Government hospital (same doctor for each visit) $800
Private hospital $2,000

4. Fetal abnormality tests (optional)

As early as Week 9, you can test for fetal abnormalities. This is usually recommended for older mums (aged above 35). Here are some tests to consider:

Test Description Price range
First Trimester Screening Panel Blood tests and a scan Nuchal Translucency (NT) of the foetus which can detect chromosome disorders and genetic diseases $200 to $400
Panorama Screening (from Week 9) or Harmony Test (from Week 10) Non-invasive prenatal screening tests which test the baby’s DNA from blood drawn from the mother. They screen for Down syndrome, Edward’s syndrome and Patau syndrome $1,000 to $1,500
OSCAR (One-Stop Clinic for Assessment of Risk for fetal anomalies) (Week 11 to 14) Tests for abnormalities and lets you decide if you want to go for more invasive tests such as CVS or Amniocentesis. $300 to $400
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) (Week 11 to 12) Placental tissue is withdrawn via a biopsy to test for chromosomal or genetic disorders $1,500 to $4,000
Triple Serum Test (Week 15 to 20) Test for Down syndrome $200 to $400
Amniocentesis (Week 16 to 20) Amniotic fluid can be drawn for tests $1,300 to $4,000
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (Screening for Gestational Diabetes) (Week 26 to 28) This tests for gestational diabetes. (Mums who develop gestational diabetes are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.) After fasting overnight, a blood sample is taken. Mum then drinks a 75 gram glucose drink and takes another blood test two hours later. $20 to $50

ALSO READ: How much will these 4 common pregnancy conditions cost you?

5. Maternity clothes

Do you need a new wardrobe? It really depends on your personal relationship with fashion.

If this is your first pregnancy, my advice, from personal experience, is to invest in timeless pieces that can last through your other pregnancies (assuming you want more than one). That $100 maternity blouse may seem like a waste. Divide it by three and, suddenly, it’s a steal.

You could also rent. It saves money and closet space.

Item Description Price range
Maternity bra (must-have) Good support is vital during your pregnancy. This is not something you want to stinge on. $10 to $50 each
Bra extenders (alternative) These are bands with extra eye hooks that allow you to extend your normal bra to fit your growing girth. They’re a cheap option to a new set of bras. Under $10
Nursing bra (must-have) Even if you get by with bra extenders, you might eventually need nursing bras (bras with a flap that let you nurse your baby easily). So, you could save a little by skipping the maternity bra altogether and going straight to nursing bras. $10 to $50 each
Maternity underwear (nice to have) You can live through those nine months with your current stock of undies, especially if you’ve survived on bikini bottoms and G-strings. Up to $29.90 (for a pack of 3)
Clothes (buy) $100 to $1,000 (or more if you’re a fashionista)
Clothes (rental) Each piece can be rented for up to 4 weeks. From $59 a month
Maternity / belly bands (nice to have) These elastic bands have two-fold purposes. They provide support for your expanding belly and let you wear your regular pants unbuttoned and even unzipped. The band holds up the pants while covering up the fact that you’ve come undone.   $25 to $50
Good support shoes (must have) As your weight increases and your centre of gravity shifts, you need good shoes to support you and provide traction to avoid falls. $50 onwards
Body butter (must have) This is technically not a fashion item but, from one mum to another, this is something you want to have. Rub your baby bump (and any other expanding parts) with body butter. Do this every day. Your skin will appreciate the moisturise and you stand a better chance of avoiding stretch marks. $12 to $190

6. Baby clothes and baby products

With baby comes baby stuff. Lots of baby stuff. Like maternity wear, you can spend a fortune or not a cent, depending on how much you can borrow or are given.

Here is a list of baby essentials as well as frills you might like to consider.

Item Description Price range
  • Rompers (at least 6)
  • PJs / sleep suits (at least 6)
  • Fancier clothes for going out
  • Mittens & booties (these usually come in a set)
In the first few months of life, your baby will need a diaper change about six to eight times a day, up to 10 or 12 if he is breastfed. The odds of his clothes getting dirty are pretty high. So, you will need more in your store so baby will always have something to wear. But you don’t want to over-stock because babies grow. Fast. From $100 If you’re feeling generous, you can always splurge on designer wear that go up to a few hundred dollars for a romper.
  • Socks
  • Shoes (nice to have)
From $10   Like clothes, designer shoes can cost an eye-watering three figures.
  • Cap / hat (optional)
  • Hair accessories for girls (optional)
From $10
Receiving blankets (half a dozen) These are to swaddle baby in his first few weeks of life. When he outgrows the need to be tightly bundled, you can use them as blankets. From $11.40 for 4
Diaper change
  • Diapers (baby will probably go through 10 to 12 a day in the first weeks)
  • Diaper cream
  • Wet wipes
  • Diaper bin (you need something with a tight lid to keep the odour in)
  • Talcum power
  • Basin
From $50
Bath items
  • Baby tub
  • Baby soap
  • Baby shampoo
  • towel
  • Wash cloth
From $50
  • Bed linen (bedsheet, bolster case)

To avoid suffocation, doctors advise against pillows.

  • Crib bumpers
  • Mattress protector
  • Mattress
From $70
  • Crib
  • Chest of drawers (for baby’s clothes, bedding, towels, bibs and wash cloths)
  • Shelves (for baby’s books and toys)
Some parents have been known to do without a crib because baby will only stay in there for a year or two before graduating to a bed or mattress. From $160 High-end cribs can be big ticket items costing as much as $1,600.
Changing table (optional) Babies outgrow changing tables really quickly. You can change them on your bed or in their cribs just as effectively. From $59
Baby detergent From $6.95 a litre
Sitting around
  • Baby chair
  • Baby bouncer (so baby can sit up a little instead of lying in the crib all day long)  
  • Play pen
  • Play mat and gym
  • Baby walker
From $265
Feeding items
  • Bib
  • Baby bottles (if you are investing in the Philips Avent bottles, make sure you get a bottle steriliser of the same brand or the bottle won’t fit into the sterilizer)
  • Teats
  • Baby kitchenware (bowl, spoon)
  • Steriliser
  • Bottle warmer
  • Brushes for washing bottles and teats
  • Milk powder container
  • Milk powder
From $170 The big ticket item here is the steriliser which can cost up to $640.90. Next comes the formula milk (if you’re supplementing or not nursing). The cheapest tin costs about $29 (for 900 grams) and lasts a newborn 5 to 7 days. So, you do the math.
Travel items
  • Diaper bag
  • Changing mat
  • Baby sling / carrier
  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • Moses basket
From $375 At their most expensive, strollers can cost up to $1,000 and Moses baskets can go up to nearly $800.
Breast pump $200 to $1,000 (electric)$50 onwards (manual)
  • Baby monitor (optional)
  • Baby thermometer
It’s pretty difficult to miss a baby’s cries, even if he’s a room or two away. But just in case your baby is a gentle soul, you might want a baby monitor. From $40
  • Maternity journal
  • Baby journal
You can use any notebook or buy journals specially designed for you to record milestones in your pregnancy and your baby’s first year. From $20 each   

7. Maternity insurance premium

Pregnancy can have its complications. That’s why buying maternity insurance can give you a measure of security, if not comfort. Covering prenatal care, delivery costs, complications and baby’s congenital illnesses, there are a variety of plans. Some begin even before pregnancy. Others allow you to transfer the policy to your baby after he is born.

Item Estimated price
Maternity insurance $371 to $869 a month

8. Prenatal classes – to prepare you for delivery

Most hospitals offer prenatal classes that teach everything from what to expect during labour to baby care, lactation skills and proper nutrition. Don’t just read about it, get hands-on tips from the experts to get a head start on parenthood.

Item Estimated price
Prenatal classes (course) $160.50 to $895 per couple

9. Baby delivery and hospital stay

If you’re not already cross-eyed from all that’s needed, the delivery options will certainly get you there. You can choose:

  • normal or Caesarean (although sometimes, when complications arise, you have no choice but to deliver by Caesarean)
  • assisted birth (via vacuum or forceps), epidural or natural
  • private room or multi-bedder (choice of Wards)

Naturally (no pun intended), the less complicated your options, the less pricey your bill. Thankfully, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has made clear the prices of the different hospitals for the various options. To make things easier for you (because, as you can see, you will have much to manage), here are the bill sizes across one ward type. For the rest, you can check out the Ministry’s website and look up “Childbirth”.

Normal Delivery – Government hospitals, Ward A

Hospital Average Length Of Stay (days) Bill Size Low ($) Bill Size High ($)
KKH 1.9 4,336 5,731
NUH 2.5 4,071 5,368
SGH 2.7 3,740 5,589

Source: Ministry of Health

Normal Delivery – Private hospitals, Ward A

Hospital Average Length Of Stay (days) Bill Size Low ($) Bill Size High ($)
GEH 2.3 10,495 11,734
MAH 2.2 8,919 9,980
MEH 2.4 10,070 10,901
MNH 2.2 7,987 10,137
PEH 2.0 7,754 8,812
RH 2.1 8,435 9,320
TMC 2.2 8,285 9,396

Source: Ministry of Health

Caesarean Delivery – Government hospitals, Ward A

Hospital Average Length Of Stay (days) Bill Size Low ($) Bill Size High ($)
KKH 3.0 8,779 10,077
NUH 3.0 7,004 7,987
SGH 3.4 9,393 10,719

Source: Ministry of Health

Caesarean Delivery – Private hospitals, Ward A

Hospital Average Length Of Stay (days) Bill Size Low ($) Bill Size High ($)
GEH 3.0 16,698 18,177
MAH 3.0 12,415 13,791
MEH 3.0 16,037 18,712
MNH 3.0 15,776 17,783
PEH 3.0 12,559 13,972
RH 3.0 12,727 16,922
TMC 3.0 12,613 14,122

Source: Ministry of Health

The good news is that if you’re a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident, you can use your Medisave to defray the costs. Let’s say your bill comes up to $4,336 for a normal delivery at KKH.

You stayed two days. You can withdraw up to $450 for each day of your hospital stay along with an extra $750 for the delivery. This means you pay $1,650 less or just $2,686 of the bill.

Type of aid Description Amount
Medisave MMP For hospital stay $450 per day
Medisave MMP For childbirth-related surgical procedures $750 to $2,150 depending on type of delivery

Apart from delivery costs and hospitalisation fees, there are the professional fees you need to add to your bill for both the gynaecologist as well as the paediatrician who comes to check on your baby after the birth.

Professional fees Estimated cost
Gynaecologist $1,600 to $3,000
Paediatrician $300 to $400

But, heave a sigh of relief because there’s more help.

Baby bonus

Under this scheme, you get

  1. Cash (given out in 5 instalments over 18 months)
  2. A CDA First Step grant
  3. A government dollar-for-dollar matching contribution for each dollar you save for the child

The amount increases with the number of children you have and the money can go towards maternity and newborn expenses.

Birth order Cash Gift + CDA First Step CDA dollar-for-dollar matching
1st & 2nd $8,000 + $3,000 Up to $3,000
3rd & 4th $10,000 + $3,000 Up to $9,000
5th & beyond $10,000 + $3,000 Up to $15,000

Medisave Grant for newborns

If your baby is a Singapore citizen, he will have $4,000 deposited into his Medisave. You can use this to defray your child’s healthcare expenses including Medishield Life premiums, childhood vaccinations, hospitalisation and approved outpatient treatments.

10. Postnatal care

Confinement nanny

Take it from a seasoned mum, don’t do without a confinement nanny. These live-in help are especially necessary if it’s your first child and you don’t have a maid.

Think about it – a whole month (technically, it’s 28 days) of being waited on hand and foot, special meals expertly prepared, doing nothing but healing and feeding baby, and (this is the most precious of all to a new mum) sleeping through the night while someone else tends to your infant. Some confinement nannies even do a little dusting and cleaning.

Book yours early in your pregnancy because the best ones get snapped up fast.

Item Expected cost
Confinement nanny (1 month) $2,800 to $3,900
Greeting red packet (when nanny arrives) From $50
Farewell red packet (when nanny leaves) $150 to $250

Postnatal massages

Postnatal massages are a particularly nice practice in Asia. Who doesn’t enjoy a little spa treatment after hard labour? They are recommended because they’re supposed to help blood circulation, aid weight loss, relief tensed muscles and promote overall recovery.

Item Price range
Postnatal massage (5-day treatment) $300 to $500

Yes, having a baby is expensive in Singapore (as it is almost everywhere else). But let’s be honest now, can you really put a price tag on life itself – especially one so cute and cuddly? Just be sure you’re financially prepared for the costs when things get real. 

This article was first published in MoneySmart.

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