There are a few things all first-time mothers go through: joy at the new addition to the family; nervousness at becoming a parent; maybe even a bit of fear at the uncertainty of the days ahead as your focus shifts from couplehood to familyhood. Through the rollercoaster of emotions, joy and love abound, too. As the pregnancy progresses and your nesting instinct sets in, practical considerations such as financial and health needs naturally take precedence.
This was true too for Lian Mei Ting, 30, who’s expecting to deliver her first child, a daughter, in February 2018 with her husband Koh Shunxiong, 31, a real estate agent. “Our pregnancy came earlier than we expected,” Mei Ting tells us in an exclusive interview. “Our initial plan was to try for a baby next year. While I’m excited at the thought of becoming a mother, I’m worried at the same time, as I have no prior experience and I wonder if I will be good at parenting.”
So, other than looking after her health now and making prudent financial choices, Mei Ting is also consciously focusing on how she intends to raise her daughter. She shares more with us on her journey to motherhood.
Q: What frame of mind are you approaching your due date with?
I’m taking each day as it comes as I’m a first-time mum, so I’m also learning along the way. I will try to not have too many expectations of my child and myself. I believe that being happy and enjoying every moment we spend together is more important.
Q: Where did you read up or gather information about pregnancy? What were your sources of information?
My first source of pregnancy information was the internet because that’s the quickest way to get answers; even faster than from visits to my doctor! I also turn to books that my mummy friends have passed to me. Many of them have also shared valuable knowledge with me on their preparations for becoming a mum.
Q: Has anything changed in your daily routines for diet, beauty or schedule?
Generally, I have been eating everything, except that I avoid all raw or under-cooked food because it might contain bacteria which can be harmful to the baby. I also abstain from alcohol, but the occasional glass of wine is allowed. I make it a point to stay far away from smokers. I’ve been taking daily supplements and vitamins as advised by my doctor and I’ve loaded up on nutritious and healthy food for the little one. I’ve switched my skincare routine to a very simple and mild one as I don’t want to use too many products containing strong ingredients.
Q: Would you say you and your husband are prepared for the new addition to the family?
It took a couple of months for the news to fully sink in, and for us to realise that we’re going to be parents and our lives are going to change forever. In fact, we only really began properly planning for the baby’s arrival during my second trimester. That’s when we purchased all the items we needed for the nursery and the baby. Now, we just need to do up the nursery and decide on a baby cot and stroller. We have looked into hiring a confinement nanny, too. I signed us up for a pre-natal class together because I want my husband to be a hands-on daddy.
We also bought a maternity insurance plan. I decided to buy one after hearing about my friend’s pregnancy experience. She had a medical condition during the delivery and the plan helped to cover most of her medical fees, so I felt it was a good idea to get both myself and my baby protected.
Q: How are you saving for your child’s future?
Financially, we’re both pretty comfortable with our combined income. I did not relook my insurance coverage after finding out I was pregnant, but after the baby is born, I’ll buy a separate insurance plan for her. I’ve yet to look into this but for now, I’m more concerned about getting her a hospitalisation plan as well as a life plan (with cash value) that provides health coverage such as critical illnesses.
Q: Have you had any health “scare” at all during your pregnancy so far?
Thankfully not. Baby and I have been pretty blessed in that aspect. I do experience occasional cramps, however. The first time was during a pregnancy workout. It frightened me a little but thankfully, it went away after a few minutes. I think mild jaundice is rather common among newborns, and both my husband and I had it when we were young so I wouldn’t worry about it. However, for other complications or diseases, we are definitely praying and hoping our baby will not have to experience it. I have no question or doubt about the standard of healthcare in Singapore. I know we will be in good hands whatever happens. We are also prepared for the cost of having a baby in Singapore.
Q: What other steps are you taking to safeguard your child’s health and safety?
I guess it’s about doing basic things to ensure her surrounding environment is safe for her, from having a car seat to baby guards for her cot and sterilising her bottles. I am also thinking of getting an air purifier for the nursery!
Q: Any initial thoughts on how you will be preparing your child to be a citizen in a digital world?
I’ve not given much thoughts to this; I will just take it as it comes. We’re living in a digital world right now so I think it is inevitable that our child gets exposed to it earlier than we did as children. At this point, I think I would certainly try to delay exposing my child to the digital world and minimise the time she spends with it.
Q: Will your job have any impact on the way you raise your child?
I do see myself sharing snippets of my daughter’s milestones online for the first few years but when she is older and starts schooling, I may not expose her to social media that often. I don’t want her to be obsessed with the internet at such a young age as I don’t think it is healthy for her development.
Q: What values were you and your husband brought up on, that you also want your child to have?
We both come from fairly big families where harmony and respect for one another are highly valued. So we would expect our child to be kind, respectful and family oriented.
Q: Education, health, wealth… how would you rank these in order of importance for your child?
I would say health followed by education, and finally wealth. Health is the most important because if you fall ill, you can’t do or achieve much, as your body isn’t functioning at its best condition. Education comes second place because without knowledge, you will not have the insight and wisdom to achieve your goals. Wealth is last because I believe that with health, education and hard work, you’ll never go hungry.
Q: What hopes and plans do you have for your child at this point in time?
I hope my child will grow up to be a kind, well-mannered and positive individual. I do not need her to be the smartest or the richest; I just want her to know that she is well-loved and supported.
Like Mei Ting, many new mothers plan for the arrival of their first baby with great anticipation and joy. Increasingly, modern mums-to-be have also been making savvy financial and healthcare decisions, such as taking up Aviva’s MyMaternityPlan once they discover their pregnancy.
A unique plan that’s developed with the unexpected needs of expectant mums in mind, Aviva’s MyMaternityPlan helps to relieve your financial burden in the event of pregnancy complications and congenital illnesses, stem cell transplant surgery for child, developmental delay in the child, death and even for outpatient phototherapy treatments for jaundiced babies*.
*Jaundice affects three in five full-term babies, and four in five premature babies in their first three to five days of their life.